Revisiting the traditional family life of yesteryear when life was lived


MISSOURI, September 24, 2014 — A typical day for the average working family in the late 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s was very different than it is today.

Mornings started with the whole family getting up early. Houses had one small bathroom, used by everyone. Pecking order was Mom first, as she was always the first one to get up and put the coffee pot on, started breakfast and got the lunches ready for dad and the children.

Yes, Dad –as a rule- took his pale or brown bag to work. They did not “do lunch” but “bagged it.”

Dad was next in line for the bathroom so he could get ready for work, followed by the children. The eldest when first.

Everyone ate breakfast at the table. Mom would scold stragglers with, “breakfast is ready and your food will get cold.” If they didn’t arrive promptly, Dad would intervened, not with a yell but with footsteps in the hall. No one wanted to hear those footsteps.

Dad went off to work while Mom made sure the children were properly groomed. They left with lunches in hand and instructions for the oldest to take care of the younger children. Mom would then give after-school instructions, such “wait for your brother” (or sister) and “come home together” and “no dilly-dallying.”

Mom knew the after school schedules and made sure the rest of the family knew about band practice or football. Mom reconfirmed the activity schedules on the way out the door, “You have band today?” “What time is band over?”  “So you should be home at this time?” Old-fashioned, basic communication was a part of life.

Mom usually stayed home, taking care of children too young to go to school and doing the washing, cleaning, grocery shopping and preparing dinner. Periodically during the week, the ladies would get together and have coffee and cakes to discuss a whole range of topics. For the mothers who had roles in the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, PTA and other like organizations these activities were fit in her already busy schedule.

The children arrive at home with all kinds of news, and Mom listens to each one as she fixed them a snack of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk. She reminds them to finish their homework and chores before going out to play. Furthermore, change your clothes and put the dirty ones in the hamper and hang your coats up.

After work, Dad walks up the sidewalk and approaches the front door of his “palace,” waiting to be greeted by the family, as was always a daily ritual. Mom had already primped up for Dad’s arrival. He enters and there is a hug. Mom now starts with the instructions for the assembly of the family to get ready for dinner. Children “it’s time to come in and get washed up. Your father’s home and its dinnertime.”

Dinner is not only the time for eating but a time for family to exchange information about their day. It usually started with Mom first, followed by Dad and then down into the ranks of all the children. No one was excused from the table until everyone was done eating. Mom would start the dishes with the help of the children.

During clean up, Dad often had a one-on-one with the children, looking at their homework. Dad also discussed anything the child might have on their mind.

Everyone in the family knew they were loved.

There was a conversation between a father and his youngest son one evening after dinner. The father was telling his son about driving the car and the things not to do and things he should do. The conversation had gone on for quite some time and the son finally asked his father, “Dad why are you always picking on me?” The father reflected for a minute or so and replied, “Because I love you, and if I didn’t care I would not be talking to you.” The son instantly replied, “Would you please not love me so much?”

After dinner was over and everyone completed their chores, the family headed for the front yard to enjoy the closing of the day. One of the main reasons for going out of the house was because it was hot, and they didn’t have air conditioning, and the outside afforded them the opportunity to cool off.

Families would exchange greetings with each other while the children played with their neighbors. It truly was like a scene out of a movie starring Donna Reed and Jimmie Stewart.

In the winter, the scene was the same, except the family would get together in the front room and when “company” would visit. Children would take friends to their rooms to play, and the grownups would visit in the kitchen with a hot cup of coffee.

Bedtime and prayers. Lights out. Go to sleep and see you in the morning. Mom and Dad go down stairs and turn on the Zenith radio and listen to the Green Hornet, Gang Buster or some other program. While the programs are on, Mom reads a magazine or fills out an eagle stamp book while Dad reads the paper.

However, that’s from a place and time I am from-

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