Life in the 50's

The web site is primarily a place to write my ramblings of history for my children, grand children and now--- a few great grandchildren.

In 1950, I was seven years old and we lived in a large apartment above my parents Chrysler Dealership on the North end of Fifth Street in Calumet Michigan.

Living where we did, you didn't need an alarm clock during the winter months to get up for school. We get what is called "Lake Effect" snow nearly every day to end the snow year with three to four hundred inches. With that much snow every day, the village maintenance men with their equipment started in at 6:00 AM at the South end of Fifth Street (Main Street in town). Jeeps would plow the side walks and roll the snow unto the street. The big plows would take that snow and plow it in the center of the street. The berm of snow could be ten foot wide by four to five foot high. I most likely seeped through that part of the removal process. When the Oshkosh snow blower started up there was no way to sleep through that noise. This kept several dump trucks buissy as they pulled along side the blower chute to get filled up. The Oshkosh had a huge engine mounted on the frame behind the cab. That engine provided the power to turn the augers and fan that gathered and blew the snow out the loading chute. The wake up noise was when the big engine revved up for a couple minutes and than dropped to and idle when the dump truck was full. Even thou this started out several blocks away, the sound bounced off the multi storied buildings as thou we lived in a rock walled canyon.

I left home to walk on my way to school and had to climb over that big berm of snow in the middle of the street. More than once I get stuck in that snow. It was a real struggle to get through it as the berm was over my head. Sometimes you had too like swim your way across it. During these times of panic, the big Oshkosh was working its way towards you. In fact, these frightening "stuck in the snow" experiences were the source of excellent night mares.


 Morrison Elementy School

All the kids on the West side of town went to this school with grades k to 5th. There were two other schools in town plus our high school. There were 150 kids in my graduation class. Our area had been loosing citizens for decades so by the time I started here, only the first floor was used. The school is now closed and is slated to become apartments.

The paved area on the school property corner was where the skating/hockey rink was in winter.

We started each morning by saying the pledge of Allegiance and then sing America the Beautiful. Teaching Evolution was strictly taboo as every one believed God created us.

Every boy carried a pocket knife and maybe some girls did to in their purse because they all wore skirts then.

Boys had some fights on the playground and no one got charges with anything back then. This is a natural release of anger and frustration that never did lasting harm as we grew out of this when we got older. I'm a self appointed side walk psychologist and believe this occasional fighting is part of growing up like a baby needs to crawl before they can walk.

 Garage Kid

It had to have been 1951 or 1952, I walked down into the garage one day in early fall and there was a huge poster on the second level of the garage wall. It was a western scene with I suppose 180 wild horses. That was to imply that the new Chrysler Hemi V/8 had a 180 Horse Power. The poster was about 20 feet wide and 10 feet tall in full color. I went and got my school friends to check it out and all did their Ohs an Ahs over the horses, but didn't have a clue what a Hemi Engine was yet as we were only about eight years old at the time.

Show Room Brochures

It was each September that the new model year began with all cars and along with that, new brochures were laid out on a table in the showroom. When the Chrysler "Hemi" came out, there was a lot of hoopla written about it along with pictures showing the innards of the engine and how it worked. Plymouth still used the strait flat head six, but that brochure had color pictures of all the models and features available for each one. It was about 15 years later, I flew to Detroit to be best man at a friends wedding. I was staying at a friends house and there were color drawings of cars all over the place. He told me that his brother Paul owned an advertising company that produced this kind of art for car company brochures and magazine ads. It's now in the mid 60's and they were still doing it this way as color film cameras were not able to create a good color image. In fact, this was the first time I new about this. It brought me back to the time I was looking at brochures in dads showroom not knowing they were all pictures created by artist. I don't know how many years this went on, but when cameras started being used, a lot of good artist lost their jobs.

Learning with the mechanics

Every few weeks, dad supervised a training session with his mechanics in the evening in the general office portion of the building. Chrysler and Plymouth divisions sent us a 45 speed record and a film strip for a projector. The film strip was advanced to the next frame by clicking a remote control button. It was done as a cartoon format I guess to keep us amused and keep from falling asleep. The character in the presentation was called "Sparky" and he was the teacher. There was some kind of buzzer sound in the audio portion that told dad when to advance the film to the next frame. I had been doing this since I was maybe four of five years old. My friends all marveled how much I knew about cars when I became a teenager.