On July 10, 2024

Then and now

Many of the things that were part of our lives back in the ‘‘‘50s are so different today. Let’s take a look at some of them.

When you wanted to reach someone by phone you picked up the receiver of your desk-top or wall phone, dialed the number and if the line was busy you hung up and tried again later. The person on the other end didn’t know that someone was trying to reach them as there was no call waiting signal to alert them. So they just kept on talking! If the phone rang and rang and nobody answered you also hung up and tried again later. There were no answering machines. When you answered the phone the caller on the other end was always a “surprise” as Caller-ID didn’t exist. If you were expecting an important call you sat by the phone and waited as there were no cell phones from which to access calls from any location. In fact there were no portable land-lines back then either! Reaching someone by phone in the ‘‘‘50s was sometimes a very slow process!

Another fun fact about phones in the ‘‘‘‘‘50s is that most homes only had one. The receiver cord was long and curly. It often got tangled and you spun it around until it untangled. If someone annoyed you while talking you could slam down the receiver and they quickly knew how annoyed you were. Of course, I never did that!

In today’s world technology plays a huge role in home security. There are systems that alert you when someone is trying to break in. Back in yesteryear loud barking dogs kept your home secure!

All business meetings were held in person and charts were on paper attached to an easel. There were no video meetings or Power Point presentations to get your point across.

If the pandemic had happened in the ‘‘50s there would have been no school for days on end. That would have really extended the time required for attendance days. But in 2020 when the pandemic began, students could learn digitally. The learning process didn’t have to come to a halt. It was just done differently.

One positive change from yesteryear to now is the fact that most smokers don’t puff away indoors and expose family members to second hand smoke. The effects of doing that have been learned.

A popular fad from the ‘50s was comic books. As a child I went to Louras’ store after Sunday Mass to pick out a comic book. My father always bought the Boston Globe. It was a ritual to read our purchases later in the day. Turning the pages of a brand new comic book was like magic. My favorites were Nancy and Sluggo and Archie. Comic books were popular with my friends and we traded them with one another.

The ‘50s had a different view of the appropriate clothing for women to wear when they went out in public. It was either a dress or skirt. Slacks were for “around the house.” Gradually that changed in the ‘;60s when pants suits became popular. My mother loved them! Jeans were pretty much for teenagers back then but these days jeans are pretty much “ageless.”

Choices for TV stations were limited to three and those were off the air during the late night hours. You had no remote control so you got out of your chair to change the channel or the volume. Nobody would want to go back to that process!

Playing board games like Monopoly, Sorry and checkers was popular with kids and also during family time.

Many homes didn’t have dish washers, including our home. Dishes were done by hand and my mother hated to see them left in the dish rack for hours! That meant my father and I grabbed a dish towel and into the cupboard they went!

Washing machines were manual with wringers. Just about every home on our street had a clothes line. As long as the weather permitted clothes were hung on the line to dry. Almost everything that was washed was ironed when it was dry. That included underwear, sheets and pillow cases. To do that task my mother pulled down the ironing board that was recessed in our kitchen wall. I don’t iron many items these days but when I do I use the same ironing board in the wall. The padded cover has been changed many times over the years but I love having it tucked away in the wall.

Back in the day if you received a gift you sent a handwritten thank you note. My mother bought boxes of stationery and thank you cards and made sure that I acknowledged all Christmas and birthday gifts.

In yesteryear summer was the time to take off the storm windows and put on screens. This meant washing the windows and storing them in the cellar until fall. Now there is just one window for all seasons and you tilt it for cleaning.

We have come a long way in the process of making life easier and more efficient. I can only wonder what life will be like in the future when the children of today look back on their lives. It’s hard to imagine.

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