Saturday, August 2, 2014

How we did summer in the 1950s

Our first wading pool, summer afternoon relief for my sister, brother and me, must have been acquired around 1954, when my youngest sibling would have been three, almost four. Over the years we went through a series of these water-filled havens, eventually enjoying one that was deep enough to be submerged in, big enough to play with inflatable toys.  The earlier ones were set up on a bit of lawn behind a hedge so every kid in the neighborhood wouldn't see us and so there was a bit of shade.  The last, biggest pool had to stand on a paved area, including the driveway, at the side of the house.  As the lot - and driveway - sloped rather sharply, we had a deep end and a shallow end
Pinterest photo, but it was just like this at our house.
The smoggy heat of L.A.'s San Gabriel Valley was also relieved by the Good Humor man (truck), from whom we did not purchase every day but regularly enough to feel abundant, and the year-round
favorite, Helms Bakery truck. The sound of its sliding wooden drawers remains unique, as familiar as the rhythm of tap shoes leading up to a recital.
Learn about the Helms Bakery and its trucks here.
At some point, another date lost in the mist, our family added a window air conditioner in the living room, which I don't remember our running all that much.  I'm sure it was costly.  It was not humid then as July and August have become.  The phrase "monsoonal flow" was unknown.  We had one state and that was hot.  We went to the library in the cool of the morning, sometimes went downtown to movies in the afternoon.  We languished like beached whales reading on our beds while our dad took his daily nap, during which no noise could be made.  When he drove back to work,  we at least got to speak with indoor voices and may have actually made some noise as we splashed in the water. 

After I had left home, the family moved to a house with what we used to call a "built-in" pool.  What a dream that would have been.  The next best thing was the interval when our grandparents lived in an apartment building with a pool in which we got to swim at least weekly.  Generally it was hotter than ever when school started, always the cue for a significant warm up which I suspected was to keep us from being able to wear our new school clothes, better suited to autumn days.


Anonymous said...

thank you Marylinn, The Hot days of summer, I too remember them well, my outlet was Echo Park Swimming Pool, for .25 cents and an excited heart I could stay all day and I did, pluged into and never coming out til closing.
I still am that swimmer today, thank God I live in an apartment complex with a pool, on Tuesday and Wednesday there is where you can find me, 11-5pm resting, relaxing and speaking with God. Its been my church all my life.
I love you and I thank you for this share and for allowing me to dive in with you. Rev. Emma

Marylinn Kelly said...

Emma - How lovely to see you, read you here. Water has always been soothing and healing to me. Not too long ago, for three spring/summer months I had a water aerobics class. I'd forgotten how essential it is to have time to float. I can see clearly how it is a church, a sacred place in which we can be alone no matter the size of the crowd. So happy to have you paddling next to me. I love you and thank you. xo

Erin in Morro Bay said...

Yep, the San Gabriel Valley summer - hot, smoggy, wading pools, and the ice cream truck! I musts admit the Helms Bakery truck had slipped my mind, that photo brought back memories!
All during the summer my mom would shut all the curtains in the front of the house (which faced east) to keep the cool air in. And I, who as a kid loved the sunshine no matter the heat, would be downcast until around 3:30 or so when she'd open them again. I'd run around the house shouting "It's a brand new day! It's a brand new day!" We never reached the heights of an air conditioner, but at some point - I think late elementary school - we did get a swap cooler. But she still closed the curtains!!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - The smog was so bad in those days. Boy, we did love our wading pools. I would have had the same response to closed curtains. Our house was pretty light, we faced south and the front door was always open (screen door), there was light from the kitchen windows. In adult years I have fared less well living in dark places. My grandparents had a swamp cooler at their farm and I remember it being so noisy - and swampy. Oh, the joy of the Helms truck and summer reading. xo