Growing Up in the 50'sWhile I was growing up I remember my dad working two sometimes three jobs to make ends meet. Today, that would be unheard of, a man working two or three jobs while the wife stayed home and took care of the house and children but not back then. My dad believed very strongly a man to be a man must provide for his family. Though mom did occasionally work to get us over the rough spots she was mostly a mom to my sister and I. I remember coming home from school getting off the bus and running into the house to be greeted by mom. She would usually have some kind of snack ready for me, ask me if I had homework and then send me out to play until supper time. On cold or rainy days I could watch television, Mickey Mouse Club was my favorite.
There was a stability then. Each of us had our jobs Dad worked and "put food on the table, clothing on your back and a roof over your head." Mom took care of my sister and I this included being both doctor and nurse when we were sick. We didn't go to the doctor unless we were really, really sick. Mom also took care of canning our vegetables and berries and such for winter, did the laundry, cleaned the house, took my sister and I where ever we needed to go. We each had jobs and her's was to run the household, dad's was to work and ours was to do what we were told, period end of conversation. We were the children not little adults. They told us we didn't tell them. Mom and Dad taught us how to talk with respect to other people especially adults, who were called sir or ma'am or Mr. or Mrs. there were no first names used toward adults.
I am often amazed at how parents are told by their children what to do. I would never have gotten away with that when I was a child nor as a teenager. My parents had a simple rule, "my house, my rules." very simple and to the point. As a result of those rules I never got in trouble as a child. My dad never had to bail me out of jail. Why? Because I both feared him and respected him and my mom. He was the authority figure in our house. I remember so often mom saying, "Wait until your father gets home." and living in fear of 3:30 P. M. when he would usually walk in the door. One time, I was sixteen as I recall, mom said, something and I said, "What are you going to tell me, 'wait until your father gets home?', out from the bedroom came my father. He said, "She won't have too!" He grabbed my shirt just under my chin then proceeded to lift me up off my feet. He said, "I don't care how you talk to your mother, BUT NEVER TALK TO MY WIFE THAT WAY!" each word was punctuated with a short jab to my chin with the hand with which he had grasped my shirt he made his point that way word by word. For as long as my parents were alive I never again disrespected my mother. Later he told me I turned white as a sheet when he walked out the door. I have no reason to doubt it. He scared the hell out of me literally.
We had a strong family where respect was demanded and earned. Children were children and had no say in what adults wanted or did. Unless we were asked we were not allowed an opinion, well we had opinions but we learned to hold our tongue early in life. There was a comfort in knowing mom and dad were in charge. I and my sister had a feeling that as long as they were there everything would be all right. This feeling lasted up to and included the day my father passed away. There was something about him that demanded my respect and that made me feel as long as he was there everything would be all right. With all his faults and he had many he was still a man I loved and respected his passing left a vacuum that would never be filled. He has been gone well over fifteen years and I still miss him every day.