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.
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’.
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.
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!
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!
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.