I was rummaging through a copy of Reminisce Magazine looking for ideas that would spark the little grey cells into action, and bring forth something for another post to this blog. It turned out to have a wealth of information. Rather than center on one or two memories, this post contains a hodge-podge triggered by that issue of Reminisce.
For instance, one article contained a segment on the sound booths in the record stores of yesteryear. I wonder how many remember those? I had forgotten about them until I read that article. Records in those days of the 1930s,’40s, and ’50s, didn’t come in shrink-wrapped packages—they were mostly 78 rpm, 10-inch records that came in a paper sleeve.
Many of the stores that sold records had little sound booths where a potential customer could take a number of records and listen to determine if any of them were something he might like to buy. These old “78s,” as we called them, preceded the longer playing 33 1/3 rpm LPs, and were still available through much of the 1950s. These listening booths have been replaced in our more modern era by headphones where you scan a CD through the shrink wrap and then listen.
Another article told of that author’s first “real” job as a carhop at a locally owned independent hamburger drive-in. She earned sixty-five cents an hour. Sixty-five cents was a huge increase over the two bits an hour she had been receiving for her babysitting services. Her mention of the trays that fastened to the car window brought back memories for me.
The standard Friday night routine in the 1950s, was a hamburger and milkshake for you and your date at one of these drive-ins, and a movie at the local movie house or drive-in theater. It was also the summer of that author’s first job, that a McDonald’s hamburger store moved into her hometown and set up shop. “In those early days, a McDonald’s hamburger sold for fifteen cents, but was about half the size of the ones sold by the local burger place where she worked., and offered few amenities,” she said. There was a skinny pickle, and runny mustard— fries were extra. She and her co-workers were certain that this new hamburger joint was a flash in the pan, and would be out of business in a few weeks. We now know how that prediction turned out.
The year, 1940 was also featured in that particular issue. There were three new popular radio shows introduced that year. The Adventures of Superman, which found popularity with kids and adults alike. Captain Midnight, and the Quiz Kids made their debuts, as well. Remember those high IQ Quiz kids? They even out shined some college professors.
Bing Crosby crooned his way to the top of the charts with three hit records that year; Only Forever, Sierra Sue, and Trade Winds. It was also the year Gone With The Wind swept the Academy Awards ceremony winning eight Oscars. 1940 saw Seabiscuit win $121,000 in the Santa Anita Handicap(that would very likely equate to about $1.2 million today) and go on from there to be horse racing’s all-time money winner.
Still another story about a July 4th celebration reminded me of those celebrations of my own youth. When I was in high school during the 1950s, fireworks—at least the kind we teenagers liked to shoot off, Cherry Bombs and M-80s—were unavailable for purchase in the state of Idaho. Fortunately, there was one among us, who was willing to take on the task of “firecracker runner” not unlike the gunrunners and rumrunners of old. We would each give him our money with an order containing the number of these little beasties we wanted, and he would head for the little border town in Wyoming where they were a legal purchase. As I recall, we would order Cherry Bombs by the case.
Now anyone who has had any experience with Cherry Bombs knows that water had no detrimental effect on their performance. U. S. highway 30 runs through Soda Springs, and there was a spot where a creek passed through a culvert from one side of the street to the other. One of our favorite places to set off these little red bombs was in that creek. We would light the fuse and drop them into the water on the upstream side of the culvert. They would float down through the culvert to about the middle of the road where they would explode, creating a tsunami three or more feet high at the downstream end.
Our biggest problem was that the County Sheriff lived only a few hundred feet from the upside of this culvert, so we had to use discretion as to when we set these bombs off. We also placed them under tin cans, the explosion, of which, raised them a couple hundred feet into the air while blowing the ends out of them. The M-80 would effect the same altitude on an empty “five-pound” coffee can as well as turn it inside out. Great fun!
Speaking of sending cans into the air. The old two lung-er John Deere tractors were a good source for that as well. In the early days of the Johnny Pops(that’s a moniker we had given them because they were two cylinder engines that gave off a putt-putt sound). They were started by turning a big fly-wheel on the side of the tractor. When the first cylinder fired, it did so with such compression that it would send a can that we had placed on the exhaust stack several feet into the air. Ah….such were the days of youthful fun.
Now, if you will permit me a little more of your time, I’d like to tell you about a couple more of my novels, LouIsa—Iron Dove of The Frontier, and SHADOW REVOLUTION. LouIsa is now available for purchase at amazon.com, and SHADOW REVOLUTION is forthcoming at a future date. You can learn more about both books by clicking on the “Books” and the “In The Works” pages respectively at the top of this website. You can also receive a free download copy of my novella, Buddy…His Trials and Treasures by clicking on the free download button at the upper right of this page. Happy Reading.