Childhood Memories: What I Begged for at the Grocery Store

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Photo credit

My childhood began when JFK was president and passed uneventfully thru LBJ, Nixon, Ford and Carter. I was a Freshman in college when Regan was elected. My mother cooked from scratch. She might give in and buy a cake mix or bottled salad dressing, but that was about it. When we went grocery shopping she often had one of these in her hands to keep track of the total.

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Photo Credit

My brother, about four years older than me, was often the more persuasive child when it came extras at the grocery store. I understand he tells that story differently, wrongly thinking I was somehow usually the winner. Memories can be tricky.

In the Cereal Aisle

 

 

Photo Credits: Post Cereal   Quaker  General Mills

It’s not true that all 60s kids grew up on cereal for breakfast. We certainly didn’t. It might be set out on Saturday morning so we could serve ourselves while Mom and Dad slept in, but it was rare to have a bowl of cereal before school. One big problem was that, like all 60s kids, we believed the commercials. Most cereal tasted then, and tastes now, like crap. Or milk. It tastes a lot like milk. Since milk had to be covered up to get it past my lips this probably is why I have not minded missing out on this cultural norm. I do like some cereal dry as a snack and did back then, too. I recall begging for Kaboom when it came out. It tasted exactly the way a cardboard vitamin pill should taste. I think my grandfather got stuck finishing that box. Poor man.

Yet another problem was my brother preferred things like Rice Crispies (with bananas–gag!) or Crispy Critters (yes, children, that pejorative label comes from a very humble breakfast cereal) and I wanted Alapa-bits. They were exactly the same cereal in different shapes. Both tasted exactly like the box. But they looked FUN. Like Alphabet soup. Same soup, but with more expensive macaroni.

Understandably, we wanted to try the newest kinds or those with the coolest prizes. I recall Sugar Crisp had a “record” [that’s “vinyl” to you whippersnappers] on the box once. Very cool. We had a habit of dumping out the cereal into a Dutch oven or mixing bowl, retrieving the prize and then never wanting to eat the cereal again. Maddening kids!

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But the Holy Grail of cereal was the little individual serving boxes. Boy were those rare in our house! And, always there was something gross like Raisin Bran in the package.

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Photo Credits left and right

Elsewhere in the store

Cool Deserts

 

 

Photo credits  Royal  Hunts   Jello

Pudding and Jello loomed large in any 60’s kid’s meal plan. These three were possibly the coolest of the products. I longed for those little snack pack cans!! Nope, I got a Tupperware with the kind my Mom made at home. I remember the pure joy when she started buying the instant mix kind–no think “skin” (“scum”) on the top to make me gag! I think I did get the canned pudding ONCE. It was as horrible and stingy a serving as Mom had said, but like any kid I merely gloated over how great it was.

Shakeapudd’n went to my other Grandpa’s house with me. This man had fought in World War II from the beginning to the end. All over North Africa and Europe. I’m pretty sure Shakeapudd’n was among the things he fought to protect me from. He just sat there trying not to laugh as I ate it and it failed to live up to expectations.

1-2-3’s we had several times. I’m guessing my Dad must have actually liked it. That’s usually what it took.

Iconic Snacks of the Era

 

 

Photo credits: Space Food Sticks and Jiffy Pop

Surprisingly, even though they tasted like erasers, my Mom allowed Space Food Sticks. Go figure! Jiffy Pop was another matter. I got to take one to my Great Aunt’s. Once. That was enough. Yet, Jiffy Pop was the one product that lived up to the hype. It was great. I even bought it once for my kids. But it did nothing for them. The microwavable bags were much cooler to them.

Milk Flavoring Products

 

 

Photo Credits: Nestle  PDQ   Bosco

Bosco! My goodness how many days did a DREAM of Bosco! We had to make due with Nestle’s Quik (or, if there was a store brand version then that was what we got). Bosco, like it’s cousin Hershey’s Syrup, could be used up in a single day. Mom knew better than to buy that! If it was on sale, she would buy us PDQ. It dissolved quicker. It also came in a vomit-inducing Egg Nog flavor that I promise you never darkened our door step! Bosco, was once sold by afternoon talk show legend Phil Donahue, when he was a neighbor of bestselling humor writer, Erma Bombeck. How cool is that? [Phil who? I’m so old…..]

The Dairy Aisle

 

 

Photo credit: Nabisco and Kraft

My mouth is watering just looking at the bright orange goodness on this page!!!  One problem: my Dad sold REAL cheese for a living and sold it for Kraft’s biggest competitor. We got real blue cheese, real cheddar and stuff like that. Velveeta, individually wrapped slices and, naturally, the goodness depicted here were clearly VERBOTEN. But I think my Mom may secretly have liked this stuff too because once in a while she’d let me get this and some good crackers. The kind of stuff we’d enjoy with the Afternoon movie in the summer or when staying up till midnight to see reruns of Upstairs, Downstairs when I was teen.

Want More Childhood Memories?

Thank you for taking this long trip down memory lane with me. If you enjoy Childhood Memory posts, then check out my friend Susan’s Blog, Girls In White Dresses. Most Fridays she features a Childhood Memory of her own. You can read more of my own Childhood Memory Posts here:

The Toys I Wanted, But Never Got

Red Shoes

Recess

Girl Scout Christmas Crafts

Book Plates and Library Stuff

Family Affairs and Meeting “Cissy”

The Horse Years

School Literature Books

Childhood Favorite Books

Childhood Memories: The Toys I Wanted, But Never Received

My friend Susan at the blog Girls in White Dresses, does a weekly Friday Childhood Memories post. Today I’m following her example and posting about toys I wanted but never received! Poor me!

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The winner by way more than a mere nose, is: MARVEL THE MUSTANG. 50 years or so later I can STILL sing the jingle. But, since we had a real horse, and I had a plush ride on horse (though it had wheels), a bouncy hobby horse and the lovely beginnings of a collection of Breyer horses, I never received dear Marvel. I had serious fantasies about riding him thru our living room and “stabling” him beside my bed. But, alas, neither Santa Claus, nor my folks, nor even my very indulgent Great-Uncle ever gave him to me. Sorry, boy….

 

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Lite-Brite makin’ things with light…. Yeah, I still know that jingle, too! So cool, so badly wanted, that it was among the first toys I ever bought for my own children. They’d sit in the totally dark bathroom with it for hours. I loved it, too. But I never had one as a child. It’s still so amazing to me that I included a wall-sized one in one my novels! (Let’s hope a Lite-Brite loving agent reads this and wants to read the manuscript!).

 

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This one will shock even my Mother. I wasn’t very into dolls–only in elementary school did I start playing with Barbie or those Chrissy dolls with the hair that ‘grew’. But, oh how I secretly wanted that seemingly ubiquitous set of dolls in their native folk attire–above are the Dutch dolls. I think they were Madame Alexander dolls, but it seemed to me that every girl in America had a set of these, except poor me. Probably they helped my love of exotic places to grow. But I never received them. My own daughter never showed the slightest interest in such dolls. She preferred Barbie or her blonde, blue-eyed American Girl doll.

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I’m not sure where I got to play with these. Maybe in my brief stint in Nursery School? Or at a rare early childhood trip to church or Sunday School? No matter, I wanted these. My brother and I were big Flintstones fans anyway (though we differed on Gazzoo–I was against him, my brother loved him). I could picture myself making this sort of structure and having my stuffed horses, Smokey and Little Joe, in there with me. But, they never appeared under the Christmas tree or at a birthday.

 

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Ok, this isn’t really a “toy.” But I wanted one so badly! But in the 60s you picked a lunch box in first grade and carried it for the rest of your life. I picked Josie and the Pussycats–a new style vinyl lunch box! Cool, right? Well, for first grade in 1968 it sure was. But then, in 2nd or 3rd grade the neighbors English Bulldog ate it and they replaced it, of course, but without seeking my input. I was saddled for the rest of my lunch box carrying days with a Frosted Flakes lunch box featuring Tony the Tiger. Today, I can safely say it had to have been on the Clearance rack! I was devastated.

Had they asked my first pick would have been plaid. Second Snoopy and third the Partridge Family–by the time this happened I was more aware of fads. Kids with “baby-ish” lunch boxes got teased. Plaid would have been safe even in Middle School when a few kids did still carry a lunch box. (My Mom also would never buy little brown lunch boxes–they weren’t a necessity. Nor did I ever find little individual bags of chips of Snack Pack cans of fruit–too expensive. It took years of lobbying to get her to buy one package of individual Fritos packs to finally score the elusive Frito Bandito pencil-top eraser ).

 

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What toys did you long for, but never receive? Share your own heartbreak in a comment or linked post!

Childhood Memories: Recess

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My friend Susan, at Girls In White Dresses, often does childhood memories posts on Fridays. Several years ago she did a post on Recess Games that you can read here. I’m honestly not trying to steal her Friday memories spot–I just happened to come up with another childhood memory post and why not do it today! I know she’ll forgive me! So today, I’m sharing the games and fun we had a recess at my various elementary and middle schools.

 

Kindergarten and First Grade

 

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At my first elementary school (ok, my 2nd–I went to another for a couple of weeks!) in 1967–1969,  Tether Ball was the big thing at recess. Little kids could truly be taken out by playing tether ball with a big kid. I remember wanting to play very badly–my big brother knew how and he liked it, so it must be fun, right? I never got a chance. Yep. No teacher intervened. No play ground Nazi Mommy Volunteer ordered us to be FAIR. The biggest kids got the good stuff. Our turn would come when we got to fifth and sixth grades. Funny, but not a lot of people my age have to have it explained that life isn’t fair. hmmmmmmm

 

Second, Third and Fourth Grade

 

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The little girl looking at the camera is me on my 7th or 8th birthday–I can’t remember now which it was. We had 3 recesses per day in those years–morning, lunchtime and afternoon. We were expected to be active. There were swings and teter-totters and Merry-Go-Rounds–always grabbed by the fastest kids at every school. And Monkey Bars for climbing, too! No sissies allowed, if you fell you got hurt. Wood chips? Nope! Just black top! We also had gym class a few days a week. Just an aside, but it was rare to have an overweight child then and there were no sports leagues. hmmmm

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Red Rover Source

Jump Rope

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Co-ed games included Dodge Ball, Tag, Red Rover, Red Light, Green Light, Mother May I–just like we all played afters school in our neighborhoods.  But only the girls–and an occasional teasing boy–played  jump rope. We usually didn’t do Double-Dutch as it was too difficult. We had all kinds of jingles to keep time.  (Jump Rope Jingles source.)

This one was VERY popular:

Cinderella dressed in yellow
Went downstairs to kiss her fellow.
How many kisses did she give?
One, two, three, four, five . . .

There was another where you went thru the alphabet –but it was best for after school. I jumped pretty well, but liked to be picked as a twirller unless it was a rare double-Dutch day–I couldn’t cope with twirling that!

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A my name is Alice
And my husband’s name is Arthur,
We come from Alabama,
Where we sell artichokes.
B my name is Barney
And my wife’s name is Bridget,
We come from Brooklyn,
Where we sell bicycles.
C my name is _________
And my husband’s name is ___________
We come from __________
Where we sell ___________.
(Continue throughout the alphabet) Photo Source

 Chinese Jump Rope

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The 1960’s were a time when children sang racist ditties on the playground without being talked-to by an adult, let alone suspended. Sadly I remember one. Cultural Sensitivity was way, way in the future, so we never questions why or how this big bungie cord came to be called Chinese Jump Rope. I LONGED for one of these!! The I could stretch it between two dining room chairs and PRACTICE! I dreamed of Chines Jump Rope glory. I was a total failure. I never could understand it. I still have trouble visualizing things like that so I don’t know that I’d do any better today. Alas, Santa never left one in my stocking. And, no, I don’t need a grief or trauma counselor, thank you! The only time I ever played this great game was when I got to be a pair of legs holding it while the super Chinese Jump Rope girls made all kinds of designs and jumped out of them! For the record, I stunk at Cats-Cradle, too. Same visualization problem. Photo Source.

Toys

By Fourth Grade we’d become more sophisticated. Oh, sure, we still played all of those games–even the junior high and high school kids joined in neighborhood games of Red Rover or baseball or whatever after school. But now we turned our eyes on two or three amazing toys!

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Wizzer tops and Clackers became an obsession. They even made it thru the summer to fifth grade. Wizzers had a thing you could use to stack the spinning tops even. Way cool! For a while there as another toy–a commercial version of the old button on a string toy, but I can’t trace it.

 

Fifth Grade

Another new school for fifth grade. Fifth graders were the oldest kids in the building so we were really special! We could buy candy on one day a week, if I remember correctly. We had an after-school basketball league for a few weeks in the winter and we were a school on fire for Four Square! And, even with girls sports only really just starting, it was a very rare child who was overweight or a big behavior problem. (Mind you, this was still the days of anyone needing special education services being taught in a different room or even a different building. I do not believe that recess “cures” ADD or ADHD, but it does benefit ALL children in many, many ways).

Four Square

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Four Square photo source

The driveways in my subdivision were poured in squares–perfect for after school four square when we got bored with shooting baskets. Nearly every family had a basketball hoop beside the driveway.

 

Paper Folding

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By fifth grade we were growing up. We had SECRETS, we started to notice  BOYS. We passed notes and made these silly decision-maker origami thingys  (that’s there official name, by the way). As safe a method of picking a future spouse, choosing a career or whatever as has ever been devised!  Photo Soruce

 

 

Gum Wrapper Chains

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Fifth grade was when my OTHER friend Susan (there were a lot of girls named Susan in the ’60s) and I tried to collect every gum wrapper possible. We got in trouble for doing gum wrapper folding during class!

 

 

Jacks

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No one gave a thought to a kid choking on a jack back then–if a kid had done that his Mom would have spanked him for being so stupid!  We played with the tiny metal jacks and a red ball. We had a tournament so that meant obsessive levels of practice during recess and at home. Later, in Middle School, our history teacher (a former Purdue basketball player who died recently) encouraged jacks and held a tournament in his class. I was actually REALLY GOOD at this! If there’d been a pro jacks league I’d have aspired to it! Personally, I do think that if Ping Pong and rhythmic gymnastics can be in the Olympics, jacks should be too!

 

I hope you’ve had a nice recess today! Did you play any of these games as a kid? Where there others that took your school by storm or that kids are still playing at that school? Leave me a comment or, if you’ve posted on this topic, leave a link, I’d enjoy reading your memories, too.

 

A Childhood Memory: Red Shoes

My friend Susan, at Girls in White Dresses, does a childhood memories post most Fridays. I’m especially fond of her Fisher Price Little People posts, but they are all fun. I’m not making childhood a permanent Friday feature, but as you’ve all seen, from time-to-time I like to share a memory. Today it’s my childhood love of red shoes!

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Let’s follow Mr. Peabody to the Wayback Machine and return to the days of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society when it’s War on Poverty was in full swing.

 

 

 

Little Red Sandals

If you squint at my feet-I’m in the sleeveless dress with red trim–you’ll see my “little red sandals” as we always called them. I recall this day–I got to wear brand new RED socks with the red sandals! Red Letter Day! My brother is wearing the other “gym shoe” option” for boys–deck shoes! The occasion, from our summer clothes and it being at my Aunt and Uncle’s house, was either my brother or my little cousin’s birthday. I had several pairs of these, as did my cousin, as had my brother, Mom and Uncle in their day. Here’s the shoes I’m talking about….

 

Snow Boots

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I was in Kindergarten in the Fall of 1967,  We wore things called “school shoes” back then, walked to school whether an adult could accompany us or not and yes, even in the brutally cold winters! Naturally it was uphill both ways!

I mention kindergarten specifically, because it was the year Red Boots ended. Very tragic in my life. The ones the furry linings were nice, but it meant I had to carry a little plaid shoe bag with my school shoes. In my school dress, with the dreaded leggins (stretchy snow pants) over the equally dreaded and hated “leotards” (i.e. tights) I’m sure I walked like the tin man! Boots never held the same appeal for me after they stopped being red.

Gym Shoes, aka Sneakers

“Gym Shoes” at some schools had to be white. And, until we were allowed to finally wear pants (first it was only in the winter) full-time in 5th grade,  it goes without saying that girls wore “girls” sneakers for gym class. In 5th grade the boys’ style with the capped toe became unisex. By 7th and 8th grade that meant “Converse” (aka today’s “Chucks”) in green with gold laces–our school’s colors. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

My preferred colors were Red or Plaid. After second grade I went back and forth between red and blue or plaid. The story only carried one other option–white and that was not for me! Boys got reinforced toes with a rubber cap–boys were expected to play hard in those days and Moms expected clothes and shoes to be in good condition until outgrown. Boys’ jeans had double knees back then, too! Girls, not yet enjoying the benefits of Title IX, had graceful pointed toes and were not supposed to get dirty! I, of course, was a tom boy!

 Sneaker Brands

 

Before Nike, before even Adidas, there were Keds, Converse, PF Flyers and Red Ball Jets. Every kid had a preference just like today–though that preference could be swayed if there was a cool prize involved.

 

Shoe Shopping

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Remember these?You put your foot in the metal guide and the salesman determined your correct size and width. He fetched the box from the back of the store and helped you try it on. He salesman sat on the seat and you put your foot on the slant–he put the shoe on for you, usually while flirting with your Mom.

 

 

Shoe Marketing

In the 1960s parents often believed that buying cheap shoes was bad for their children’s growing feet. That meant a lot of name brand shoes! Buster Brown, a venerable children’s shoe company had many tv ads and gave seasonal prizes–a small plastic toy usually. They always gave you a Buster Brown pin and a shoe horn, too!

1970’s Buster Brown Shoe commercial

All these years later I can still sing the jingle!

Toys and Prizes

Here are some sample prize-toys: A Johnny Quest Decoder Ring from PF Flyers (I bet my brother had that–he was a big Johnny Quest fan!). The satellite whistle (red) I had! It was lame–of course I was very disappointed, but man oh man–I HAD to have it! The others are collector discs–I don’t remember them.

Red Goose Shoes Golden Eggs

I don’t recall ever getting a Golden Egg, but I probably did–the shoes were very popular. I think you pulled the goose’s head down and the egg came out–odd anatomy, but fun! There was a prize inside, of course.

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Do you post childhood memories? Leave me a link! You can see another fun shoe post here and another childhood memory post here.

Note on photo sources: All were found on Pinterest, but too many led to pages or Etsy/Ebay listings that were sold. KEDS, Converse, Buster Brown, PF Flyers and other brands are Trademarked.

 

Childhood Memories: Girl Scout Christmas Crafts of the Early 1970s

Nice memories from the elementary school years this time.Me Christmas of ’71 (the date on the photo is wrong–it took my Mom YEARS to get film developed!). That was my favorite dress that year, too!

Much of December was spent making “stuff” for Christmas gifts when I was a kid. There were the good projects–the felt Christmas Stockings Mrs. Englehart patiently taught us to hand sew, the bad, (too many to mention) and the ugly–popsicle stick manger anyone? But Christmas gift crafts were raised to a special level of “art” by those frustrated executives in green–the early 1970’s Girl Scout Leaders! All were named “Mrs.” All drove station wagons. And none tolerated shirking your crafting duties at Christmas. Picture Source

I was an enthusiastic girl scout in my youth! I was a brownie and then a Junior and would have enjoyed going further, but that’s as far as it went at my school. Anyway, about that time band took over my life and I enjoyed that thoroughly, too.

Later I enjoyed leading my daughter’s American Heritage Girl’s group for a few years. Sadly, as in so many things, she did not share my passion for earning badges!! Image copyright 1963 Girl Scouts of America.Daypack for camp

 

 

 

 

Among the many crafts we Girl Scouts made in the Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall in the early 70’s were these two classic Christmas decorations.

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 First the Reader’s Digest Santa! You bought a plastic Santa or Mrs. Santa head at the Ben Franklin and then devised construction paper arms with mittened hands to make them more “human” looking. Spray paint, something ALL kids long to use, was allowed with an adult RIGHT. THERE. ready to seize the can if you dared aim at another scout of at anything belonging to the Church! Our mother’s sewing box or button jar provided other goodies to “dress” the Santas with. I believe mine became a gift to my Grandfather and his new wife that year. Whatever did happen to it, I did at least have fun making it. Photo Credit
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Then there were the IBM PUNCH CARD WREATHS!!These were awesome! Staples AND spray paint! Too cool, right? Mine was spray painted gold and went to live in Roger’s Park, in Chicago, on my Great Aunt’s door. She came home from work one night to find it stolen. She remarked on that every Christmas till she died in the early 90s.

Since those times I’ve grown up, become a Mom and received Christmas crafts from my own children. Handmade Christmas cards, school Christmas party crafted ornaments, a high school photography class photo calendar. Recently one of my children received a gift of an ornament made by my great-nephew. I remember enjoying little things like that made by his Mom and Uncle, too.
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Perhaps my favorite Christmas craft memory was from 1972. We’d moved that August to a new state and a new school. Maybe he was lonely. Maybe Mom bribed him, or maybe, just maybe a 14 year old with art talent galore found some fun in the activity. My big brother sat down and painted those then-new cut out wooden Christmas ornaments with me. He tried to help me slow down and do a better job. (I’m not talented in this area!). His were wonderful, mine were ok. It didn’t matter–in my family we were proud of each others talents. So much so that my Mom has an oil painting of his in her home still today and on my kitchen counter, in true 70s style, sits a pot he made that has held the wood kitchen tools in every kitchen I’ve had–except the kitchen in Malawi.