Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Early Fifties, A Different Time, A Different World

Been browsing through my sister Sarah's Photo Album.  It brought back a myriad of memories.  I can still remember the excitement over Sarah having her first baby, Phyllis Jean.  Phyllis made me  'Aunt Jean'  ....and oh so much joy that summer when we met for the first time. Also, there were many visits as well as  many memories of those drives to Princeton, West Virginia or to Dugspur, our Mother's old home place.  Those yearly trips often included stops at caves or drives through the Great Smoky Mountains.  Such is the photo below at Newfoundland Gap, some 5,045 feet up somewhere between North Carolina and Tennessee.  It was August and we were headed to the Marshall Family Reunion in Princeton from Greenville South Carolina.   I would have been twelve--almost thirteen.  With camera in hand, I believe we pulled over at every scenic pull off.

Above:  Bonnie, Jean, Phyllis Jean, Mother, Daddy, Scott.  (Sarah took the picture.)
The road through the Smokey Mountains has an abundance of places to stop for photos.  Even today we still pull over and take those same photo opts--how did we get so much older when the hills are the same?  Below:  Jean and Mother seated.  Scott, Phyllis, Sarah, Daddy and Bonnie standing.
It was the back of this organdie dress below that brought back a rush of memories of how times were back then.   The values and beliefs of the fifties and the rules of our home ....  My mother had made this dress that I am wearing below.  I felt so pretty in it.  But in the fifties, organdie wrinkled  badly.  I had worn this dress to church on Sunday morning and was pressing it to wear again on Sunday evening to church when my Dad walked in and caught me 'ironing on the Sabbath.'  I was reprimanded for violating the Sabbath.    Yes, I remember, you did not buy or sell on Sunday, we did not work or eat out on Sunday, you filled your car with gas on Saturday --  never Sunday. (How was it Mother still cooked and we still did dishes on the Sabbath.)  Sunday was a day of rest:  Sunday School, Church, naps, friends over if we behaved and then Church again that evening.  So preparing for evening service, I just wanted the wrinkles out of the back of my dress as a result of sitting in  Church on Sunday morning.  Ironing on Sunday was an unacceptable action on my part.
But that memory was just a rabbit trail.   Here we are in Princeton at the Painter home.  The Family Reunion took place this year on Aunt Merle's lawn.  I'm not sure but this may have been the  year when Bonnie and I were invited to stay an extra week -- me with the Painters, and Bonnie with Cousins in Keystone, W VA.  Cousin Paulene's boyfriend flew us in a small, four-seater back to Greenville after our visit.   What an amazing memory that made for Bonnie and myself. 

But my point of this posting is to discuss the difference in attitudes, in manner of dress, the morals of the day.  I note how we dressed in these photos.   Traveling in the August heat  by car in dresses and the men in slacks.  And below, at a later time, Sarah and Phyllis traveling by train in hats, gloves and dress suits.    The manner of dress carries a tremendous impact on the attitude and behavior of the person.    This was a time of courtesy, honor, manners and honesty.   It seems silly today, but our comfortable, casual, and even sloppy styles of today accompany rudeness,  ungratefulness, lack of caring, to only mention a few attributes of our present day. 
I loved our home at 502 Bennett Street.   Being the youngest in the family, this was a special time in my life.  Six children (and often additional house guests) and we had one bathroom.   There was a coal furnace in the basement that had to be fueled.    All the girls shared one small room if I remember correctly.  The boy's room was the size of today's closets.   I do not remember any air conditioners and in the winter, there was only the floor furnace vents. Laundry was done every Monday morning with a wringer machine and we hung the clothes out on the line to dry.   Life was simple and when one gave another their word, they meant it and kept it. I never remember telling a lie and if I disappointed my parents in any way, I would have grieved more than they.  How far have we come.    I don't want to go back to those days, but I would love to see the values of honesty and respect return to our society.  Would it be possible to keep the comfortable, casual clothing and still maintain honor?  And could we eat at a restaurant on Sunday and our word would still remain true?

1 comment:

  1. I love this post, mom! The pictures are priceless. I agree with your point on attire...but can't I be grateful and still wear my yoga pants???