Saturday, March 25, 2006
F is for the Fifties
The Fifties were my grade school years.
One of my most memorable summers was the year a painted turtle (not the one in the colored picture) wandered into the yard and my parents gave me a large, old washtub so I could keep it for a pet. I arranged the tub interior into a mini habitat with "land" and "water". The turtle seemed to be content in it. But, how would you know with a turtle?
Determining the turtle's sex was beyond me and anyone else I knew. I decided it was male and named him Prince Albert Red Rattler just because I liked the sound of the name and thought it suited him.
Prince Albert ate worms. The worm needed to be in the water, where it would wiggle. Prince Albert would catch the motion out of the side of his eye and plod down to the pond area of the washtub. After watching the worm for a few seconds, he dipped down in the water and slurped it up like sucking down a piece of spaghetti.
The neighborhood kids and I spent the summer digging worms and feeding them to Prince Albert. He ate everything we gave him.
One afternoon we decided to see if he could eat 100 worms. It took the better part of the afternoon to dig, feed, and count. Yes, Prince Albert could and did eat 100 worms.
In the fall it was time to let him go at a creek in the country. (This was my parents idea, not mine.) Prince Albert was so fat he couldn't get his shell closed. I hope he buried himself quickly in the mud for his winter nap before some predator ate him. I'm sure he didn't starve during hibernation.
For the record: We did not live in a dump. Dad was adding two bedrooms onto the house and sister Doris and I managed to pose right in front of his construction trash pile.
In the spring of 1959, when I was fourteen years old, I graduated from eighth grade complete with nylons, low heels, and a white graduation dress.
Under that skirt was what we called a 500 yard crinoline. It supposedly had 500 yards of nylon net sewn in gathered layers, each layer with more yards than the previous.
We washed, starched, and ironed our 500 yards of nylon net in an attempt to get the fullest skirt we could manage.
The crinoline was worn to school on days I wasn't wearing a "tight skirt". Girls were only allowed to wear slacks on Friday. They had to be dress slacks with an ironed crease. No jeans allowed.
Each time it was worn, the crinoline hung limper. I had to repeat the starch and iron routine often. Only someone young and silly would do that much work to wear something so ungainly and scratchy. And I was that in the 50s.