Things people don’t do, see or say any more.

First of all, there are exceptions to ALL of these! But here is a brief rundown of things we just don’t come across any longer. It should raise a smile among those of you who are of the same vintage as me. Some have been mentioned elsewhere in various blog posts of mine from the last few years.


When I was a child people had special gloves specially for driving in. They were known – predictably – as driving gloves and they had leather palms and woven string backs. They made great Christmas presents for those dads and uncles you struggled to buy for. Cars were still a relatively new phenomenon and not every family had one so people often gave driving-related gifts to others. People also had car coats, car rugs and some (my mum for one) kept certain shoes for driving in.

60 Christmas gift ideas for classic car fans | Classic & Sports Car

Cars had to be ‘warmed up’ after standing overnight. My dad used to go out and start the car up five minutes before he left for work.

In the countryside, at the top of a mountain road, there would always be a car or two parked on the verge with the bonnet up and steam issuing forth from the radiator. Once the car had cooled down, the journey continued.

On the TV

There were many hours in the day, and at night, when no programmes were broadcast and if you turned the set on you would see the ‘test card’.

Anyone recognise this test-card? – Black & White Television – VRAT Forum
The first test card I remember, in the early 60s, was like this.
The history of the BBC trade test transmission (part 1/4) - Clean Feed
This test card appeared with the dawn of colour TV in the late 60s/ early 70s.

After the last programme of the evening had finished, the National Anthem was played. I only heard about that, never saw it, as I was a child and was never up at 10.30 or 11.00 when the programmes finished. When the set was turned off there was a white dot on the screen which very slowly shrank until it disappeared.

TVs often suffered from interference due to the weather or transmission issues and the effect on the screen was always referred to as ‘snow’.

Early TV presenters all wore evening dress – dinner suits and bow ties for the men, an evening dress for the women (of which there weren’t many in the 50s!) – and they often smoked whilst conducting an interview.

Answering phones

Households only ever had one phone in the 1950s. I remember huge excitement in our house in the mid-1960s when we acquired an extension! Everyone answered their phones with a greeting followed by their full number, complete with exchange. A made up example would be ‘Hello, Hightown 363.’ To digress a bit, our first telephone number was 9. There was a small telephone switchboard in our village Post Office (it’s now in a museum) and you called them (they were 1) to ask to be connected to other numbers. We were the ninth phone in the village – hence the number!

Taking Photographs

Remember the joy and anticipation of collecting your latest pack of prints from the shop or receiving them in the post? Remember too, the disappointment when some of them hadn’t turned out well – finger in front of lens, subject moved, over-exposed etc.? But they all had to be paid for, and the film had to be bought in the first place. We were so careful not waste shots!

127 film - Wikipedia
Everyone my age will remember winding the start of the film onto the spool in the camera, taking great care not to let light into the film accidentally.
Kodak Brownie 127 Film Bakelite Camera with case and manual  image 0
My first camera was like this and was a birthday present in 1960. I still have it.
Zenit E Vintage Russian 35mm Film Slr Camera with Industar image 0
My second camera was bought in about 1975 and was one of these.

Wearing Hats and Gloves All Year Round

In the 50s, when I was very young, most men didn’t leave the house bare-headed. Men in hats vastly outnumbered hatless men. They were always taken off indoors. Most women also wore hats outside. My grandmothers, for instance, never left the house without a hat – felt hats in winter, often straw or linen in summer. My grandmothers always to wear hatpins in their hats,

Working class Brits did not ditch the Labour Party … it ditched them
Readers reply: when and why did men stop wearing hats? | Hats | The Guardian

I also remember that women all wore gloves to go out, especially when going to church. They had winter gloves and summer gloves. In the 1950s, when girls were dressed in small versions of what their mums wore, I remember me and my sister having to wear white cotton gloves with out best summer dresses to church.

1950s Woman In Hat & White Gloves Photograph by Vintage Images

Looking after vinyl records

Remember the care we used to have to take when handling records? Hold by the edge only. Wipe dust off with a special cloth. Always slide an album into the inner paper sleeve before putting away in the outer sleeve. A scratch on a record could render it unplayable. There were little brushes too for getting fluff off the needle.


Writing Letters

I have always love writing and receiving letters. There is something about a hand addressed envelope arriving in the post. We still write letters, in a way, but they are emails and it’s somehow not quite the same.

Paul Feeney on Twitter: "British postman in the 1950s. Two post deliveries  a day including Saturdays and no van or hand-cart. /"

Having doorstep milk delivered in glass bottles

Remember the sound of the milk float, the clink of the bottles? Rinsing out your bottles and putting them on the step? Hardly anyone I know has a milkman now. It’s all bought from the supermarket in plastic containers. Living where I did as a child, we didn’t have a milkman We went to a nearby farm every evening at milking time with our washed out bottles and filled them up straight from the cooler. All my life, the sound of a milk float has reminded me of visits to relatives who lived in towns. I used to find town sounds and sights so exciting as a child from the countryside. I do have a milkman now and I’m very happy about it! But there as aren’t many of them around these days. I love the fact that I get my milk in returnable glass bottles and my eggs, which are free range, in recyclable card containers. So I’ve done this change the other way around and am one of the exceptions I referred to at the start of this post.

Former Milkman's book DELIVERS the secrets of the 'Romeos of the road' |  Books | Entertainment |
Milkmen drove ‘floats’ like this which were powered by batteries and had a very distinctive, quiet sound.

Credit to Google Images and Wikipedia. As always, I have endeavored to ensure that nothing used in this post infringes copyright. If anyone objects to my use of an image, contact me and I will remove it.

18 thoughts on “Things people don’t do, see or say any more.

  1. My first camera was a VP twin which took 16 small photographs on an 8 exposure film,it cost 7/6d from Woolworths,we never had a telephone growing up,and as for the Milkman,well young people today are so surprised,milk delivered daily by someone driving an electric vehicle and the milk in recyclable glass bottles,wow amazing,seems we were well before our time ( happy days though ).

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve just looked up old money to new money and 7/6d for eight photographs is the equivalent of £15 – £20 in today’s money! Pop bottles were also recyclable, weren’t they? And my mum used to talk of going to the Saturday matinee in her local cinema as a kid and paying with jam jars. As you say, we were ahead of the game in some ways on recycling.


      • For two summers, before finishing grammar school, I worked at a local pop factory and the bottles came in wooden crates which were quite solid so, loaded with full glass bottles, four flagons per case (2 litres each, at a guess) made them quite heavy. Each summer, I worked with a delivery driver and I had to collect all the empties from each store then bring in the new ones they were ordering. The driver counted them and deducted the appropriate amount from their bill. I then lugged them out to the truck and stacked them with other empties while he was making time with the shop assistant.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes those were the days! We had one phone with a number like, UNion, followed by the number, and I did deliver milk with the milk man, in 1960 before going to school. Most kids today don’t know how to dial rotary phone! they think it’s weird!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The milk bottles came with a foil(?) cap and, if we didn’t bring it in promptly, we might find a bird had pecked through the cap to get at the milk. It wouldn’t stop us using the milk, even if they had!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There are several memories of being a kid in the 50’s that pop up quite often. One was the almost obligatory “Sunday Drive”. After dinner at 1:00, we’d get in the family car (actually, only my dad drove) and gas up. At 23 cents per gallon, $2.00 dollars could get you very far in those days!
    Another memory was our Saturday morning trash can hunts. Growing up in a “blue collar” neighborhood, we knew Friday nights were big drinking nights for certain households. So, early in Saturday our little gang would scour the trash cans of those households looking for the empty beer bottles and occasional soda bottle. We’d bring them to the corner grocery and redeem each for 2 cents apiece. On average, each of us could wind up with about 25 cents each. That parlayed into: 1 bottle of Coke, 1 small bag of potato chips and a comic book. All for 25 cents! The rest of the morning and early afternoon were spent reading the books and having a real Beggars Banquet. – all while sitting on the pavement in front of the variety store that always had the latest comics. Ah, the days of innocence…and innovation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great memories there! The Sunday afternoon drive! Remember it well. Usually referred to around us as ‘going for a run in the car’ or, more often, ‘going for a spin’. Occasionally we’d stop on some hillside or in a forest and put some logs in the boot for the fire or a few rocks for the rockery my dad was building in the back garden.


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