A Facebook meme recently asked if your kids knew about how different your childhood world was from theirs today. My kids learned in my world, of the 1950's and 60's, there was no internet, no cell or smart phones, the house had only one phone mounted on the kitchen wall, so no privacy. No computer, no electronic games like Nintendo or Packman, only one Black and White TV.

In the mid 60's we finally got a Color TV. No VCR or other ways to record TV shows for viewing later. If you missed the show, too bad so sad. Many times, the TV networks would run a summer replacement show instead of reruns. We had only 4 TV stations [CBS, NBC, ABC, and NET [National Educational Television, which later became PBS]. AM radio was where we’d listen for the hit songs. FM only had Classical and Elevator Music until the early 1970's.

Records were flat discs of different sizes that had music on them, they came in 78rpm [stopped being produced in 1960] these held about 3 - 3 1/2 minutes of music per side, also 45 rpm records that held about 4 - 5 minutes of music per side and 33 1/3 LP [Long Playing] records that held up to 30 minutes of music per side. These were played on a phonograph.

We had to use paper and pencil, and our fingers, for math. Texas Instruments didn't invent the calculator until 1970. They cost around $100, and only did addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. We used ink pens for other writing.

We played pick up sports, or sandlot sports. Only one kid in the neighborhood played in Little League baseball. There wasn't a kids football league, basketball league, and no one had even heard of soccer back then. Kids ran the games, there were no adults. It was a great way to develop leadership in kids. Folks with leadership abilities always rise to the top and organize the effort, in our case, a game we all wanted to play. Weather permitting, we spent most of our daytime, when school was not in session, outside.

Each bedroom had a fan to move around the hot air at night. Air Conditioning was in some stores, at the indoor movie theatres, and in some restaurants. We finally got one AC window unit downstairs, so we still needed the fans at night in our bedrooms. Only one car for the family, no one had AC in their car.

Most working folks, generally men, were in car pools so that their wives could have the car some days, to do the shopping during the day, since most women then, only worked from home. Many folks used mass transit if they lived in a city, as mass transit was non-existent or pretty spotty in the new world of the Suburbs.

Banks were only open Monday – Friday from 9am to 3pm. There were no ATM’s. Most stores were closed on Sunday. School was rarely closed as we all walked to school. It would only be closed if the snow was so deep that the teachers couldn't drive their cars to get to school.

Funny, my kids think I lived in a very backward and primitive world. Minus not having AC, I wouldn't mind jumping in the ole Way Back Machine [aka Time Machine, for those who didn't live back then and never heard of Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman] to go back and visit again as I sure had some great memories of that time.

Unfortunately, as with any era, there definitely were problems such as very deadly racism where black men would be lynched, in the South, for some offense without a trial, in other words mob rule. Blacks were not welcomed to shop or attend the movies on East Main Street in Newark, DE, even though Newark had a "colored" residential area a block away. The blacks went into Wilmington to see movies, shop, and eat in restaurants. They did have their own churches, in their Newark neighborhood.

Women were not given all the freedom and rights they have today. An example, credit card companies needed the husbands approval for a wife to have her own credit card. Both blacks and women could not go to any college or pursue any occupation they wanted back then.

There was a real possibility that we could have an Atomic War, because the USSR, Today's Russia, and Red China, Today's People's Republic of China, desired to spread Communism around the world. The Nuke bomb, of that era, was called an Atomic Bomb or A-Bomb.

We also lost three great Americans to assassins' bullets, President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy. There was the VietNam War that divided our nation in a major way, where many American soldiers died in a senseless war that achieved nothing, as VietNam went and became a Communist nation in spite of our nation's effort to prevent that.

So, as idyllic as I'd like to remember growing up in the 1950s and 60s, which for a white suburban kid it was, sadly it wasn't for many others of that time. So, maybe I'll skip that ride in the Way Back Machine. Sometimes things look better in black and white and many years of time having passed, to blur the image; rather than in the living color of stark reality, that’s as sharp as an HD flat screen of today.

Mike Cannatelli’s column appears every other week in the print edition of the Avon Grove Sun and Kennett News.
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