The early 60’s are replete with scores of memories that today, most would think so stone-age! (no pun intended… that was a little later in the 60’s) – We got a second phone in the house… that was a big deal, we now had one in the living room and one on the wall in the kitchen. Rotary dial, of course. That doesn’t refer to how you get ahold of a businessman’s service organization in your town. Not only were they rotary dial, we were on a party line! That may sound exciting to someone from the 21st century because it sounds like a great time with friends! But that wasn’t our party line. All of our neighbors shared the same phone line. We had different numbers; but, you had to pick up the phone and make sure the neighbor wasn’t talking on it before you could make a call. Of course, anyone in the neighborhood could listen in as well.
Another big deal… we got a color television for the first time! It wasn’t anything like the color sets today that are so vibrant and real, its like you could walk into them. This was more like someone put the black and white picture on the TV and then used water color, with a LOT of shades of pink to kind of fill in where the color should be. You had a color adjust knob so you could try to get the color to match a real life color but it wasn’t very effective. Although, with the rabbit ear antenna for UHF, you could only get two channels and they were as fuzzy as the rabbit might have been. On ‘regular’ TV we had three channels, 3, 5 and 8 all out of Cleveland.
We did have a remote control, though for our TV. My dad would be sitting in his chair and he would say, ‘Son, get up there and turn to channel 8 for me.” Voila! Remote control! You couldn’t sneak out to the living room and watch TV at night for two reasons. One, the tuner knobs made such a loud click it would wake the neighbor’s dog. Second, all of the stations went off the air at about 1:00 a.m. so you would only be watching a ‘Test Pattern’ that was on the screen overnight. Also, for those of you who are following the Brown’s ‘prayer meeting fiascos’ it would interest you to know that when the TV stations signed off at 1:00 a.m. they played the National Anthem while a flag was shown.
Living through the sixties, the first time around was, to use an old phrase, ‘a hoot’. I could probably spend a dozen or more pages regaling you with stories like sitting on a red metal ‘step stool’ on the back porch in the summer while Dad took an electric hair trimmer that I think was last used to trim the tail of Man o’ War. It was like the commercial for the nose hair trimmer “It doesn’t trim your hair, it rips it out by the roots!” This was our summer ‘buzz’ cut. He took it down in May and we didn’t have hair growing until Christmas break! I only experienced one other haircut like that, it was one bright morning about 5 a.m. at a military induction center! I think the military had Dad on time to complete the cut but he won hands-down for depth of hair removed! My Dad had big strong, workman’s hands. He may have been able to bend steel. I do know he was able to replace a fleeing child back into a metal step stool chair in record time with one hand and never miss a stroke with the razor!
With four boys and Dad at work five or six days a week all day, Mom was eager in the summertime for us to ‘go play outside’. There could have been a tornado bearing down on our neighborhood with gale force winds but when she suggested we go play outside, we did. The rule was you came back for supper when Dad whistled (everyone in the neighborhood could hear Dad’s whistle and dogs came from two cities over looking for food!) and when playing out after supper, we came in when the street lights came on. My oldest brother is eleven years older than me, I think his rule was he had to come home when the lamplighter came down the street!
I was fortunate, (in retrospect… I didn’t think so at the time) to have eight different mothers. No, my father was not a polygamist, we lived in Ohio not Utah. Polygamy, I never understood. Who, in their right mind would want multiple mothers-in-law? Anyway, my eight mothers were all moms in the neighborhood. They had a coven between them. Anyone could spank or ear pull anyone else’s child, whip them and send them home to report to their own Mom what had happened and who tagged you! Of course, my Mom would get right on the phone and boy, would she thank that Mom! Then turn she would turn to whichever one of us boys had gotten it and say, ‘just wait until your father gets home!” WOW, that was a way to ruin an afternoon! Usually we’d try to catch Dad as he drove in the driveway so we could give him our side of the story first! If, by the time we were done with our story he was already unbuckling his belt, we knew we would be standing up for supper!
But our neighborhood was great, so was our small town. Many of us were together all the way through high school and not long ago we had a 40th anniversary reunion for our graduation. Golly, those others sure have gotten old looking!
When I truly think back about those years, there were three things that stood out as most important was family, friends and faith; not necessarily in that order. Now, here I am about the live through the sixties a second time!
This time, it isn’t a decade among other decades like the 60’s of the 20th Century that I referred to here but it is my own decade of being in my 60’s. I have no idea what the next ten years hold, or even if I’ll be here at the other end of them. That’s just life. But I have a pretty good feeling at this point that these years will be centered on faith, family and friends and it will likely be in that order.