If you were born in the 1950s, you probably think of summer a bit differently from the kids of today. You didn’t have an iPhone, and you definitely didn’t spend your days inside. Social media was walking over to your neighbor’s house and ringing the doorbell. You could go to the park without an adult watching over you, and getting messy (and a bit banged up) was what was expected.
If you’re a ’50s kid, you know just how great those summers were. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and remember the way summers used to be. You may even convince the grandkids that they should spend their summer out catching lightning bugs.
Let’s relive those glory days with 30 things that were part of your summer in the 1950s. Grab a malted from the corner drugstore, put on your favorite record, and get comfy. This is going to be a serious walk down memory lane.
Nowadays toys are more likely to include 5G than some chalk, but back in the day you had to entertain yourself with almost nothing. Thus, hopscotch was a popular choice for summertime fun.
If outside wasn’t an option, you could always stay in and play with paper dolls. Yeah, even dolls were too fancy for some of us.
Snack food in 2020 has truly jumped the shark. There are Oreos in every flavor under the sun, and more cereals than you can imagine. Once upon a time, if you wanted a treat you got Cracker Jacks, with the bonus of a prize inside.
If you grew up in a certain time, chances are you played in the yard with a rickety old badminton set. You also learned that badminton is one of the most frustrating sports on the planet.
And no bike was complete without clothespinning some playing cards to the spokes. If you don’t know what that means, you definitely grew up later than 1960.
After a long day playing outside in the summer, the only way to finish out a warm evening was with some music. But kids these days will never know what it’s like to try to drop the needle right in the spot between two songs.
If you were lucky, your parents might take you to the lunch counter at Woolworths for a special treat.
And when they tucked you in at night (if you were of the female persuasion), you got to wear cute baby doll PJs.
Sure jungle gyms still exist today, but not like they used to. The jungle gyms of yesteryear were solid metal over grass or concrete. No one was taking extra precautions: if you fell and hurt yourself, that was your fault.
These days most kids don’t know what it’s like to be in the front seat until they hit their teen years, and everyone drives with seat belts on. But there’s something about the memory of sitting in the front seat with nothing holding you in that just says “summer drive.”
The candy store doesn’t really exist the way it used to. Summer in the 50s often meant rolling in to the candy store and spending your pennies on all the sweets you could pack in your pockets. Maybe you’d even get an egg cream.
If a kid rides a bike down the street without a helmet in 2020, someone’s liable to call child services. In the 50s it was just normal. Is there anything better than feeling the breeze whip through your hair on a hot summer day?
If you grew up in the 50s, you were used to having free rein during the summers. You’d head out in the morning and your parents didn’t need to know where you were as long as you showed up for dinner.
Sure, there might be contaminants in there, but as a kid you’d drink when you were thirsty. It’s a sure sign of summer to be drinking straight from the hose.
Speaking of unexpected water sources, it wasn’t uncommon to cool off on a hot day with the water from a fire hydrant. That’s a powerful sprinkler.
So it may not be summer specific, but no discussion of childhood memories in the 50s is complete without mentioning this over the counter antiseptic. Everyone’s mom used it when you got a scrape or a cut.
Of course it turned out that it contained mercury so that was a bummer.
Once upon a time, kids could play with toys that were literally so dangerous they caused multiple deaths. But hey, it was super fun to throw weighted metal darts across the lawn at each other.
If you wanted to save any of your summer memories for the future, you had to get yourself some flash cubes. These disposable beauties let you add a flash to your camera.
Most people today use the built-in ice maker in their fridge or freezer, but that wasn’t an option in the 50s and 60s. Instead, everyone used ice trays, and woe betide the person who took the last cube without refilling.
It might sound wild, but most station wagons used to have a third row of seats that faced backwards. If you were unlucky, that’s where you got stuck during a long car ride. Even worse, there was no AC, so the best you got was rolling down the windows.
If you wanted to have a really exciting summer experience, you’d wait until after dark and pull out a net or a jar. Then you’d go chasing after the lightning bugs, hoping to catch one or two.
If you weren’t hanging out at the candy store, you might find yourself at the corner drugstore picking up a Coke for a nickel. Best way to cool down.
The A.C. Gilbert Company created quite a few toy sets, but one that is particularly wild is the Chemistry Set, which included incredibly flammable chemicals like ammonium nitrate (which is used in homemade bombs). Definitely good for children.
The game of the streets wasn’t Pokemon or the latest TikTok challenge. It was jacks: simple and yet devilishly challenging.
In the summer it was a common sight to see lines of clothes drying in the backyard. Why use electricity when the sun will do?
If you woke up early enough in the summer you might catch a glimpse of the milkman leaving fresh milk at your door.
While most people avoided the library in the summer (books are for school), if you did make your way there you’d have to find your book with a card catalog.
It’s probably considered animal cruelty now, but there was a time when winning a game at the fair would earn you a little plastic bag with a live goldfish inside. So cute!
Movies are still a summer staple, but there was something special about the drive-in. Sitting on top of the car, or snuggling in the back of the truck: you just can’t replicate it in the theater.
Sound off in the comments with summer memories that today’s kids just won’t understand.