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Nostalgia aint what it used to be... The "I remember when......." section is finally with us - lets reminisce!


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Old 16-09-2007, 15:07   #1
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10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

BBC NEWS | Magazine | 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s


1. Post-war austerity was characterised by outside lavatories, central heating was rare and many houses were without televisions or running water.

My gran lived in a back to back (2 rooms) with a long drop loo in a shared yard. We had a long drop too in the 40s. No tv until 1955

2. Racial discrimination was widespread, with signs saying "No blacks, no dogs, no Irish" commonplace. Tensions boiled over with the Notting Hill riots in 1958.

Women didn't have equal pay and I was refused a loan of £1000 in 1970(despite a good salary)Credit cards didnt exist until 1960s

3. Food rations until 1954. Fruit was a luxury, chicken or sweets a rarity. Queues outside butchers lined the streets. Petrol was rationed in 1956-57.

At least the rare chicken dinners you got tasted like chicken should

4. Smog, or peasoupers, were thick and yellow, made worse by coal fires. Some have described the fog as a "yellow wall" outside the front door. Parents gave children scarves to wear over their noses and mouths and street lamps were still gas.

This caused that awful practice of your mum spitting on her hankie and rubbing the smuts off you face

5. Britain was humiliated in the Suez War and its influence on world events greatly diminished.

6. Bomb sites littered British streets, while air raid shelters, unexploded bombs, gas masks and seaside defences provided a reminder of the horror that had gone before.

I remember my gran giving me a frog which she showed me would jump over a stick - it jumped into the air raid shelter on our street and was lost forever.

7. The Cold War intensified throughout the 50s, with tensions illustrated by the Soviet invasion of Hungary and the McCarthy witch hunts in the US.

When local factory sirens went off we thought it was the famous 'four minute warning' - I still have a copy of Protect and Survive somewhere

8. Sporting humiliation arrived when England's football team lost 6-3 to Hungary at Wembley, the first ever defeat to a non-British team at home.

9. Smoking prevalence among UK men aged 35 to 59 was 80% in 1950, and half of deaths of middle-aged men were caused by tobacco.

Upstairs on buses was always thick with smoke too

10. Sexual expression was frowned upon and even criminalised. Homosexuality and abortion were banned throughout the decade and unplanned pregnancies stigmatised families.

Pregnant unmarried girls often resorted to suicide

So times weren't so good after all were they?
Every age we have lived through has its good and bad sides.
Want to add to my comments on each of the 10? and air your memories here?
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Old 16-09-2007, 15:21   #2
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

1.When I was little we didn't have a bathroom or inside loo. It wasn't a long drop but it was outside in the yard. We didn't have central heating for years, well fast the 50s! I remember getting our first telly and thinking it was wonderful. I even used to watch the test card and loved that disappearing dot after the epilogue!!!

3. Maybe that was how the British learned to queue. It really frustrates me nowadays when I have queued in and orderly fashion for something and other people just come along and push in at the front and expect to get served/get on the bus etc. Sweets being rare wouldn't be a bad thing nowadays!

4. Oh I remember fog when you couldn't see your hand in front of your face and just groping my way along, with a scarf over my mouth. I only ever remember them being yellow around Blythes though.

6. You're lucky Margaret it was only your frog fell down an air raid shelter. I fell down one and injured both of my knees! They still give me gyp.

9. Oh yes I remember the upstairs of buses all thick with smoke. Half of me used to like to go up top to get a better view (and pretend to be driving the bus!) and the other half of me hated the smoke.

10. I remember when an unmarried mother was something talked about in whispers. Sometimes a baby would be passed off as the youngest child of the mother and never know that the 'big sister' was really their Mum.
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Old 16-09-2007, 15:37   #3
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

it dont mention the main not-so-great thing - cashy was too young to drink.
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Old 16-09-2007, 16:22   #4
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

I would have liked to have lived through the 50s. It seems the world was a nicer place back then. I suppose it's easy to look back on things and give them a rosy glow but I really think things were better in those days. Will anybody be saying the same thing in 20 years time? 'Oh 2007, they were wonderful times.' I shouldn't think so.
We might be better off materialistically now but people in the 50s coped without entertainment gadgets and labour saving devices because they never had them. If someone took our washer/dryer and handed us a dolly tub and a mangle we'd keel over!
Another thing about the 50s era is the pride people had in everything and the standards. All that's gone now.
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Last edited by Lilly; 16-09-2007 at 16:26.
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Old 16-09-2007, 17:44   #5
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

I was around in the 50's too.......and we didn't have a bathroom and our toilet was a 'lavvy'...a long drop one......the good news was it never froze up in the winter.
We didn't have piped hot water either....we had a range which had a section which heated the water.....but you had to remember to fill it up.
Friday night was bath night - and we all bathed in the same water which was heated in a 'Slaxone' gas heated copper......this was also used to boil the washing on a Monday.
Winters always seemed colder....our bedroom was like a fridge....in fact we made ice lollies on the inside of the window ledge......we went to bed with as many clothes on as we went to school in.
The only time a fire was lit in the bedroom was if someone was poorly...or when my mother was 'confined' (had a baby).

I didn't mind not having TV...we played out in all kinds of weather......and although we were poor, we ate relatively well, and all the food was home cooked. There wasn't much food wasted either......no sell by dates on anything.
If the cheese grew a green coat, it was cut off and we ate what wasn't green. Anything left from Sunday dinner was invariably used for Monday tea. We didn't eat fancy food.....sardines on toast or pilchards on toast...though I never ate such things....i would have a poached egg instead....and the eggs came fresh from a neighbour who had hens on an allotment...sometimes they were still warm when we collected them. We also had fresh veg, grown on the allotment

The co-op was where we went for the groceries. Tea came in blue sugar paper bags with the weight printed on it......butter came in barrels....bacon came in rolls and they cut the slices off to the thickness you wanted.
Stanton's pop man came round with stone bottles of dandelion and burdock and sarsaparilla....ice cream came on a horse drawn cart and you took a dish out for a good dollop...or you could of course have a cone or a 'sandwich'.
Milk also came on the horse and cart and you took out your jug to have it ladled into and then put your crocheted doily (with coloured beads as weights) over the top to stop the smuts from landing in the milk.

Ladies took pride in their front step and you would see them all out with a bucket and scrubbing brush to clean their steps and then apply donkey stone.

I can remember hearing my mother talking about a girl they worked in the mill with, having to get married because her fella had 'dropped one in the box'......I got a real telling off when I asked her what it meant......she just told me that 'little jugs have big ears'....and those ears were going to get boxed. After that I just listened and drew my own conclusions.

I enjoyed the 50's .....it was a good time to be a child....OK there may have been some downsides......but I can't say I was aware of them as I grew up.
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Last edited by Margaret Pilkington; 16-09-2007 at 17:50.
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Old 16-09-2007, 21:19   #6
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

That ice cream sandwich was spooned/ladelled on too wasn't it? Not a fancy perfectly shaped pre-cut block? And it was real ice cream too.
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Old 16-09-2007, 21:26   #7
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

Yes Willow....you are right.....it was a sort of oblong metal shape ...the wafer was put in first and then the ice cream was spooned onto the top and then smoothed into the template (for want of a better word) and then the top wafer was put on and then the wafer was turned out and put onto a sheet of greasproof paper. I think it was Birtwells who used to come around our way....their raspberry vinegar was just delicious.....lovely and tarty.

I used to like to go out with the dish though, you always seemed to get more that way.
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Old 16-09-2007, 21:28   #8
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

I also remembered the 'salvo's coming too....they collected paper and string....so you see, recycling isn't a new concept at all.
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Old 16-09-2007, 21:30   #9
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

Oh yes that 'ras' was lovely.
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Old 16-09-2007, 22:33   #10
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

the thing that stuck with me about the 50s is Yes things were cheap, but hardly any ****** could afford em.
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Old 16-09-2007, 22:35   #11
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

Quote:
Originally Posted by Margaret Pilkington View Post
Stanton's pop man came round with stone bottles of dandelion and burdock and sarsaparilla.....
Lots of folks used the stone bottles as hot water bottles during the winter , made heck of a bang if they rolled out of the bed onto the oilcloth covered bedroom floor
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Old 16-09-2007, 23:02   #12
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

I was born in a council house so we always had a bathroom,but people still thought council houses were for poor folk,,,I remember we got a 12"tele and it seemed the whole street came in to watch the coronation,,,
All the kids used play out in safety and never destroyed other peoples propety, we to congregate under a gaslamp on dark evenings,and we would tell ghost stories, John Christie the murderer ,was going at that time and i remember being petrified when an older boy said that he was hiding behind one of the houses...they also made up an imaginary baddy called Flannelfoot.....they were good times
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Old 17-09-2007, 05:12   #13
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

You had a bathroom in the fifties? Wow! Did people not think you were posh?
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Old 17-09-2007, 05:59   #14
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

the folks who had council houses in the 50's were the ones who kept the coal in the bathtub because they didn;t have coil oles
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Old 17-09-2007, 14:17   #15
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Re: 10 not-so-great things about the 1950s

There have been not so good things in every decade since I've been alive and the 50s were no worse than any other. Some of the bad things were, if you look at them another way, quite good.

Food rationing was difficult but we home-grew and ate loads of vegetables instead of meat, butter etc. People were leaner and, on the whole, fitter. Having to walk, due to very few private cars and petrol rationing, contributed to fitness too.

What television there was, in the early 50s, was only broadcast for a few hours a day. Children didn't sit staring at TV or computers, which were unknown, they played outside.

Hardly anyone had central heating and fitted carpets and, whether or not there's a connection I can only guess at, very many fewer children suffered from asthma.

There were bomb sites in some towns but there was plenty of employment because towns and cities had to be rebuilt. Many people whose homes had been destroyed or damaged moved into new Council estates where the housing was good and the estates well kept.

There was crime around, as ever, but there were policemen "on the beat" and, on the whole, people felt safe both in and out of their homes. Most children were instructed in good manners and those who were tempted to misbehave on the streets were summarily dealt with by the local bobby.

All in all, it was not too bad a decade.
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