[LMB] OT: Generation Change, was Fun

Jelbelser jelbelser at comcast.net
Sun Apr 5 01:29:31 BST 2009

>> 50 years ago is 1959
>> Well here's a few that I can think of

The original 1959 list struck me as European.  I was a kid in 
Washington, DC in 1959.

 >>>Public transport was in far greater use proportionately than it is 
today. So were bikes and walking.<<<
Public transportation, yes.  Walking, yes, up to the bus stop.  Only 
kids rode bikes for transportation.

 >>>There were very few multilane motorways.<<<
Main streets in cities were certainly multilane.  So were many 
intercity roads.  And the interstate system was starting, as Robert 

 >>>Cars needed servicing regularly and still broke down frequently. The
good news was that you could generally fix them yourself.<<<

I never knew ANYONE over the age of 25 who fixed their own car.

 >>>It was not uncommon to have wood as a major part of a goods vehicle 
railway carriage/wagon<<<
Wood on vehicles was strictly decorative.

 >>>Horses were still in use in certain areas/tasks as transport<<<
Only rarely in the US.

 >>>The normal way to cross the Atlantic, travel to Asia etc. was by 
Not if you were going on business, or had limited time.

 >>>Credit cards,.... did not exist <<<
My mother had a credit card for each store she shopped at frequently, 
and for gas stations.  The only difference was no "universal" card such 
as Visa.
Also they were not electronic, but had raised letters and numbers that 
made a purple imprint on the receipts when pressed in the pressing 

 >>>Supermarkets were rare<<<
Multi-department grocery stores were around in the 1930s.

 >>>most people bought from the local shop(s) and made special trips to 
city center department stores for special items.<<<
Suburban department stores existed.  One drove to them and parked for 
free right there.  Downtown department stores required a bus trip or 
paying to park in a multi-level garage, although stores sometimes 
stamped your ticket so you didn't have to pay.  In small towns affluent 
people would travel to a large city seasonally to update their 
wardrobe. Some still do this today.

 >>>The alternative was mail order. Delivery was generally 28 days not 
Non-local mail went by train, and only took a few more days than local. 
  First class packages could cross the country and be delivered in a 
week or so.

 >>>If you went on holiday then sharing the bathroom/toilet with other 
guests was normal in most hotels.<<<
Again, not in the US in mainstream hotels and motels.

 >>>People still died from diseases like Small Pox or Polio<<<
Not in the US in 1959.  Smallpox vaccine had been around for close to 
200 years and the Salk polio vaccine, which had to be updated annually 
or so was in widespread use.

 >>>Heart attacks were usually fatal, and if not you generally couldn't
recover from them because the surgeries and pharmaceuticals we have
today did not exist.<<<
Only big ones were fatal.  After little ones you took your digitalis 
and nitroglycerin, cut back on starches, and avoided stress and 

 >>>Telegrams were still in common use<<<
Telegrams were rare and used for ceremonial situations.

 >>>It was usual to use the operator to connect a phone call<<<
Only for long distance calls

 >>>Party lines were common<<<
Never knew anyone who had one.  By 1959 they existed only in extremely 
rural areas.

 >>>It was common to wait months to get a phone line<<<
Not so in the US

 >>>There was little or no choice in phone,<<<
True, the only thing you could choose was color and whether it was 
wall-mounted or on a table/desk.

 >>>In the US segregation was normal.<<<
The military had be desegregated earlier by President Truman.  Public 
schools were in the process of integrating.  Bathrooms and water 
fountains were segregated in some parts of the country but not others.  
I remember seeing signs labeling them for white or colored while on a 
trip, and thinking that was very odd.

Janet in TN

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