As I changed from girl to teen I valued the quiet time I spent in my room, looking through magazines for more cut-outs to add to those on the wall above my twin bed—Zsa Zsa Gabor, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, and Arlene (my middle name) Dahl. For years, I kept the photo of Marilyn Monroe, with one thumb-tack hole at the top and tatters around the edges, in a scrapbook.
It seemed that one day I wore a girl’s size 14. Then all of a sudden I was in Mom’s size 12. As soon as I earned my own baby-sitting money, I purchased store bought or catalog-ordered clothes that fit me.
Around 1960 a Penney’s chambray work shirt cost $1, and a Brentwood cotton shirtwaist dress, close to $3. Fabric was a prize, several yards for under a dollar. If we kids had even a dime to spend on ourselves, we went to Hested’s, which we called the dime store. I paid a dime for a Milky Way or Mars Bar in high school, so I imagine we got change from a dime for a candy bar in the fifties. I drooled over the toiletries. The cobalt bottles of Evening in Paris, and the talcum powders. The beauty soap scents of Lux, Palmolive, and Camay overpowered my senses if I sniffed the products one after the other. Brylcream was displayed for the guys.
When Mom went to town without us she brought home treats of Cracker Jacks and Tootsie Roll Pops. At the table she told us “clean your plate. There are starving children out there.” She served our meals on bright colored Melmac dishes. We drank from aluminum cups that would freeze your lips if put in the freezer first. We ate on an oval red Formica table trimmed in chrome, with chrome legs. Mom reupholstered the matching chairs a time or two. I always wondered who had copied whom, because the kitchen set at Grandpa Mosel’s house was just like ours, only in green Formica.
I lived my girlhood between the world-wide events of World War II and the turbulent, violent sixties, which I pounced into with verve. The fifties and sixties were history in the making, as the American culture zipped into an affluent society, unlike any the country had known before. Yet at the time I passed through those years, as most youth, I lived only for the moment.
What details do you recall from your younger years?