Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reminiscences Of Childhood In The USA In The Mid To Late 20th Century (Game Songs & Stevie Wonder's "I Wish")

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents several online comments in which people share their memories of childhood & teen years in the USA during the 1960s.

This post also includes a video of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" and lyrics of that song which refer to that same time period in the United States.

The content of this post is presented for historical, sociological, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Example #1:
"What were children like in the 1960s?

did they have chores? what did they play with? how was school for them? also the same for teens! were they rebellious? etc (:
thank you sooo much!"
-pimps, 2010

"Well all you've gotten so far is snarky misinformation so as a child of the 60's [born 1958] here are my experiences.

Chores? Yes. Did dishes at least 4 nights a week [I had 2 older siblings] helped with other house work at my mom's request. We got an allowance every week [50 cents with candy bars and soda being 5 cents each, movie ticket 50 cents] but could earn extra money doing laundry, polishing the silver, cutting the lawn, washing the car and other household chores. As we became a teen our allowances increased but so did our chores.

We played with balls, Barbies, toy guns, jumped rope, played jacks, cards and board games. We played hide and seek and tag with our friends along with marathon "let's pretend games."

We rode bikes, skates [ice and roller], skateboards, scooters and trikes when we were little. I grew up in a house with no TV, though most of my class mates had them, so I did a lot of reading. I was already reading by the time I started Kindergarten at age 5.

School? We attended schools with in walking distance of our homes. Most of our fellow students were very like us in terms of class and race. I did not attend public schools with handicapped children until high school [1972] though I had a neighbor at age 10 who wore leg braces [childhood polio]

Like any kid we were occasionally rebelious. Rebellion is part of growing up to become your own person."
-ajtheactress, 2010

Pancocojams Editor's Note: The writer doesn't indicate in which country she lived during her childhood & teen years. Given the USA centered nature of many Internet pages, it's likely that that nation is the USA, but I'm not certain of that.

I'm from the USA (I was born in 1947 in Atlantic City, New Jersey and was thus a teenager in the 1960s) and my childhood memories are almost completely the same as that writer. I remember engaging in all of those play activities, but neither I nor anyone I knew had ice skates. In addition to the activities that ajtheactress mentioned, I would include playing with paper dolls, running relay races, and playing "Cowboys & Indians" (the Indians won as many times as the Cowboys). I also remember playing singing games such as "Little Sally Ann" (which is almost the same as "Little Sally Walker"), "Zudio", & "Here's Stands A Blue Bird". My sisters and friends and I also played movement games such as "Red Light, Green Light", "Mother May I?", and "Simon Says". I also remember playing with marbles, playing hula hoops, and trying to master the latest R&B dances. As a child & teenager, my chores were similar to those that ajtheactress mentioned except that I didn't polish the silver and didn't get extra money for doing the laundry and mowing the small plot of grass that served as my family's lawn. Also, we didn't have a car so there was no "washing the car" chore.

I have a vague recollection that when I was very young, the cost for movies was a nickel (5 cents). I remember being told that our family was one of the first in our African American neighborhood (in the mid or late 1950s) to have a television. And, like ajtheactress, I had a childhood friend who had childhood polio. She didn't wear leg braces but she walked with a limp.

The similarities between my memories and ajtheactress' memories are particularly striking because I'm African American (Black) and from the drawing that she chose for her icon, it appears that ajtheactress is Anglo-American (White).

Example #2:
"Back in the old days we came home from school, and did our homework, no game playing. We took our school clothes off when we got home & did not go outside & play in them! We didn't sit & listen to grown folks talk. We left the room until company left. We ate what was cooked or nothing @ all!! When told to do something we did it!! We didn't say I will do it later. I'm thankful for the old days because it made me the person I am today..... Re Post if you agree back in the old days was something American should have stuck to for raising kids!!!"
-Lateshya Mickey Ellis, Facebook page comment, November 2011
Although Lateshya is my facebook friend, I don't know her well. I believe that her childhood was in the 1990s or the 1980s. Although my childhood was in the 1950s and 1960s, I can relate to everything that Lateshya wrote except for leaving the room when company came. My sisters and I didn't do that, maybe because our house was so small. But we were taught not to speak when grownups were talking unless we were given permission to do so. Some children were taught to say refer to adults as "Sir or Ma'am". But, for some reason, I thought that was a Southern custom. Instead of that, when an adult called us we were taught to say "Yes?". Saying "Uhn?" was a definite no no.

I can definitely relate to Lateshya's memories of having "School clothes" that you didn't play in. Generally speaking, we had three different types of clothes and shoes: "school clothes/shoes", "play clothes/shoes", and Sunday [church] clothes/shoes." School shoes might be "regular shoes" and "sneekers" which were also called "gym shoes" because shoes with rubber soles were the only types of shoes that were allowed to be worn on the gym floor. I also remember having to change into the one piece gym uniforms - ugh! My legs were skinny way back then and I hated how I looked in those gym clothes. And speaking of school clothes, in the 1950s, girls weren't allowed to wear pants to school. In the winter time, we'd wear snow jackts with matching leggings or we'd wear long pants under our dresses or skirts bbut have to take them off before school started. We also had rubber boots (galoshes) for the rain/snow. And we also had real dressy clothes & shoes for special occassions.

FEATURED VIDEO - Stevie Wonder I Wish (Live)

Uploaded by amoreregal on Sep 25, 2008
Here are several comments from that video's viewer comment thread

A #1 hit for Stevie Wonder on the Rhythm & Blues charts. It was the 384th #1 R&B song of the Rock Era. It also hit #1 on the Top 40 charts, #23 on the Adult Contemporary charts, and #5 in the United Kingdom.
-mkl62, 2012

[Regarding the date of the video]
Definately this was during the mid-late '80s/early '90s because the -Yamaha DX7 just screams that era.
-pannoni1, 2011

This song relates to any kid growing up in any decade.
Sneaking out w/o mum's permission, playing doctor, using your church money to get candy, smoking in school, graffiti and generally cutting up...

We can all relate those things!
-Hulk2k6, 2009
For the record [no pun intended], actually I can't relate to any of the examples Hulk2k6 mentioned. I guess I was a goody two shoes kind of kid.

(composer - Stevie Wonder)Original Release Date : 1976

Looking back on when I
Was a little nappy headed boy
Then my only worry
Was for Christmas what would be my toy
Even though we sometimes
Would not get a thing
We were happy with the
Joy the day would bring

Sneaking out the back door
To hang out with those hoodlum friends of mine
Greeted at the back door
With "boy thought I told you not to go outside,"
Tryin' your best to bring the
Water to your eyes
Thinkin' it might stop her
From woopin' your behind

I wish those days could come back once more
Why did those days ev-er have to go
I wish those days could come back once more
Why did those days ev-er have to go
Cause I love them so

Brother says he's tellin'
'Bout you playin' doctor with that girl
Just don't tell I'll give you
Anything you want in this whole wide world
Mama gives you money for Sunday school
You trade yours for candy after church is through

Smokin' cigarettes and writing something nasty on the wall (you nasty boy)
Teacher sends you to the principal's office down the wall
You grow up and learn that kinda thing ain't right
But while you were doin'it-it sure felt outta sight

I wish those days could come back once more
Why did those days ev-er have to go
I wish those days could come back once more
Why did those days ev-er have to go


Thanks to all those whose comments I featured in this post. Thanks to Stevie Wonder for his gift of music and thanks to the uploader of this video.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome.

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