[LMB] OT: Generation Change, was Fun

CatMtn at aol.com CatMtn at aol.com
Sun Apr 5 03:59:05 BST 2009

In a message dated 4/4/2009 8:30:02 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
jelbelser at comcast.net writes:

>> 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.
M: It strikes me as more from some 3rd world country.  In 1959 I had  
graduated from college and taught school for a year.  The school I taught  in was not 
segregated, nor was the college I attended.  

>>>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.
M:  There was very little public transportation in the part of Texas  I lived 
in other than school buses, which I don't think is what the person  writing 
the first comment meant.  Mostly we walked or borrowed the family  car until we 
were out of school, then bought our own.

>>>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 
M:  Obviously the person who wrote the first post never went to Dallas  in 
1959.  Or to any major US city.

>>>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.
M:  Neither did I, except for a few hobbyists who rebuilt classic  cars.

>>>It was not uncommon to have wood as a major part of a  goods vehicle 
railway carriage/wagon<<<
>Wood on  vehicles was strictly decorative.
M:  It was, unless the person who wrote the first post is talking  about 
removable wooden sidewalls on farm trucks?

>>>Horses  were still in use in certain areas/tasks as transport<<<
>Only  rarely in the US.
M:  Well, they did ride them in rodeos and other bits of nostalgia.  <g>  But 
not for transport.  In fact, horse trailers pulled by  trucks were used to 
transport the horses.

>>>The normal way  to cross the Atlantic, travel to Asia etc. was by  
>Not if you were going on business, or had limited  time.
M:  Not really, unless they were moving there.  And then the  people usually 
flew, while the family car and furniture was shipped by  water.

>>>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 
M:  That's right.  I had a couple of gas cards, several  department store 
cards, and smaller merchants kept track of charges by writing  tickets which were 
kept on file until paid.

>>>Supermarkets were  rare<<<
>Multi-department grocery stores were around in the  1930s.
M:  If we had two of them in Ingleside, which we did, they'd really  made it 
out into the sticks.  And we had two since at least  1939.  I don't remember 
before then.

>>>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.
M:  There were a few suburban department stores.  Not as many as  today, but 
the population wasn't as large as it is today, either.  We even  had a few 
malls in Corpus Christi.

>>>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.
M:  There wasn't any shopping by mail order if you were over 5'4",  which I 
was.  However, there wasn't much in the department stores,  either.  Women over 
that height either learned to sew or found a  "sewing lady" to make their 
clothes.  I learned to  sew.

>>>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.
M:  Even in non-mainstream hotels, I never stayed in one that didn't  have a 
private bath/toilet.

>>>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.
M:  Absolutely not!  The polio vaccine came out in wide,  free distribution 
when I was 16, which was in 1954.  I never saw  a case of smallpox, or even 
heard of one in the U.S.  I do recall  seeing one recent immigrant who had old 
smallpox scars, maybe in 1948 or  49.

>>>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  
M:  My dad had a very big one in May, 1946, and survived for 17  years after 
that.  He cut out saturated fats, rested for an hour or  so after lunch, and 
otherwise lived a fairly normal but somewhat more  sedentary life.  We still 
went fishing and hunting  together.

>>>Telegrams were still in common  use<<<
>Telegrams were rare and used for ceremonial  situations.
M:  There was a telegraph office in town, but I don't recall my family  or 
anyone I knew ever receiving or sending a telegram, and it closed  down in the 
late forties.  We used the phone.  I think that was about  the time my father 
caught my cat having a phone chat with a cousin of mine in  San Antonio, and 
made some objection to paying the cat's long distance bill,  though. <g>

>>>It was usual to use the operator to connect  a phone call<<<
>Only for long distance calls
M:  I think by 1959 we didn't have operator-connected phones any  more.  But 
it hadn't been long since we did.  It was a very small  town, though.  The 
cities had had dial phones for years.   Actually the operator connected calls 
were handy--the operators usually knew  where to find the subscribers, and would 
track you down for a long-distance  call.  It was almost as convenient as cell 
phones.  <g>

>>>Party lines were common<<<
>Never  knew anyone who had one.  By 1959 they existed only in extremely  
>rural areas.
M:  We were pretty rural, but not THAT rural.

>>>It  was common to wait months to get a phone line<<<
>Not so in the  US
M:  Not so indeed.  It took about three days,  IIRC. 

>>>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.
M:  There was some choice, right.  Not a lot.  No cordless  phones.

>>>In the US segregation was  normal.<<<
>The military had been 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.
M:  Not in Texas, it wasn't.  I was teaching that year and  had Black, Anglo, 
and Hispanic students.  Restaurants weren't segregated,  either.  I don't 
know where this information came from, but it doesn't  sound like the 1959 I 
lived in.



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