As I think about growing up in the south during the 1950s, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart. The home I grew up in was somewhat different from other homes. My younger years, until I was married, were always in the shadow of a church. Everyone was watching the preacher’s kids. Therefore, I couldn’t get away with a lot of mischief.
We had no television, so my main source of entertainment was playing the piano, riding my bicycle, playing with the neighborhood kids, and sliding down the red hills behind the church. And you could always find my little buddy, Socks, alongside me. He was a black cocker spaniel that loved to run with me. It was a sad day when Socks ran the wrong way into the path of a car. I didn’t have another pet that meant anything to me after that.
Another thing I loved doing was hunting with my daddy. We would turn his beagles out of the dog pen and head for the woods. Oftentimes, I would ride my pony, Sandy, and follow Daddy as he went into the woods. I went bird hunting with him often, but I never shot a gun. Daddy wouldn’t let me do that. I was the retriever. Daddy would dress the birds and Mother would cook them up and make bird stew. That was a real treat.
My best friend Ruth lived about five or six miles from me, and I only saw her on Sundays. I always loved going home with her after church. She had no television either, so we created things to do. Paper dolls were our main source of entertainment. Our imaginations would run wild as we created stories, and those little dolls would come alive as we spread them out on the rug in Ruth’s living room.
Another childhood memory I have is the Charlotte Transportation System. In those days, a big city bus would come out to where we lived in Mint Hill. A lady who lived near us took me to the Christmas parade when I was about eight-years-old in downtown Charlotte. What a joyous adventure it was to ride that big bus. As soon as we found our seats, I noticed a sign at the front of the bus hanging over the drivers head…”Coloreds to the Rear.” I leaned over as any curious little girl would do and ask, “What does that mean?” She explained that colored people had to sit at the back of the bus. That was my first introduction to the “Jim Crow” system. Under the “Jim Crow” system, African-Americans were relegated to a status of second class citizens. It was a horrible caste system in the south, that was so wrong. That kind of thinking was prevalent throughout the south during that era. Remember, it was the 1950s. I recall shopping in downtown Charlotte with my mother and seeing separate water fountains for blacks and whites. Those images were indelibly stamped in my mind and are still there to this day. As a child, I never understood any of that, because I grew up in a home where it was taught that blacks and whites were created equal. My father even preached in one of the African-American churches near our home.
Much has happened over the years in this great country we call America. I have seen many changes during my 72 years of living. My generation, “The Baby Boomers” or “War Babies” has come a long way since then. We never dreamed of carrying a phone in our pocket. We didn’t wear jeans or pants to school. We wore dressed made from flour or feed sacks and were proud of them. We never dreamed of a calculator to help with math problems, and a computer was unheard of during that era. 99% of our clothes were homemade and my mother didn’t even have an electric sewing machine…her’s was the old-timey pedal type. But, we were happy and those were truly the “good old days.”
Life is too easy today. As I sit here at my computer, I’m reminded that this blog is a creation of today’s society. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all the conveniences I have at my disposal today, but sometimes I long for that simpler time. People were less stressed and took the time to visit a neighbor. Now that’s what I’m talking about!
Charlotte Bus Station in the 1950s