This date was picked at random by our staff’s secret algorithm. Nothing magic about it but it was as good a year as any and at least a year that this feeble brain can still recall with a modicum of clarity.
This was the front of our drought that lasted until 1957. I can still recall the huge cracks in the ground everywhere. They were in our yard the playgrounds and parks. You could also discern the effects in the cotton field right behind our house. We moved that year to truly fancy digs on Savoy which was the southernmost street in Oak Cliff, a section of Dallas. It was brand new and Dad bought it with a V A loan which was a new program started after the War as part of the GI bill. It was a cookie cutter clapboard house with 2 bedrooms and one bath. For reasons only known to the developer of that day, there was a fake hearth in the living room with a small mantle. It was where we placed the gas heater with the false logs. The whole house probably had at best 1000 square feet but we had an ample backyard. There was no paved alley and behind the house was a large cotton field that ran all the way to Kiest park. The crop was skimpy due to the drought and the ground parched. Within a year the development began with more cookie cutter houses and the streets and side walks being poured. These homes were a notch above ours because they were all brick and not clapboard.
I was 6 but not yet in school because I had a September birthday and had to wait another year. Mom worked with me more than I wanted naturally on my colors, numbers, alphabet, shapes and I suppose a little reading. There were that first Christmas no TV antennae in the neighborhood. That started changing right away though. With just three years or so it was unusual to see a house without an antenna but there were still some. Radio was the major entertainment center of the day. Saturday mornings in particular were special because they had all the kids shows. Buster Brown was a favorite along with Archie and his friends. Mom would let me sit by the radio after breakfast until about noon or close to it for all those programs. Friday night early was also terrific. You had the Green Hornet, the Inner Sanctum, when they didn’t think it was too scary for me, the Lone Ranger and all the others. It required imagination and I suppose that was part of the allure of all of them. You got to imagine that Western landscape the way that fit your own image of it which in turn was no doubt influenced by the Westerns you had seen at the theatres.There was no multi-screen theatre. But there were local movie houses in just about ever commercial area of any size.
The nickel values of the time were many. You could get a Coke for a nickel. All the filing stations had those big red Coke machines that stood upright and many still had those that open from the top like a large freezer. There was nothing like that really cold Coke on a hot summer day if you could get your mom to spring for the nickel. You kids have probably never heard the expression “its your nickel”. It meant you had paid the nickel for the phone call so start talking and don’t waster the money. Yep, there were pay phones everywhere. Sometimes just on a street corner if it was a commercial neighborhood and at churches, schools, parks, and almost every retail store had one. One advantage of the pay phone was that you weren’t on a party line. In 1948 we were still gripped with tight regulation of the phone service and getting a phone was a real hassle with the bureaucracy, Federal of course. But it was allegedly for our own good, like it always is with Federal programs. Typical wait times were several years to get a private line. I distinctly remember we wanted one in 48 but didn’t finally get one until about 1953 or 1954. That was tall cotton living I can tell you.
You could ride the bus for a nickel and sometimes for only 2 cents, that was a Saturday only deal if I remember correctly. The adults had to pay 8 cents and a dime on weekdays. That also included the street car which were still running in 48 on a regular basis. I always preferred the street car because you could lean out the window a little and that was especially daring when you went over a bridge or viaduct because you couldn’t even see the tracks below and it was like flying through the air and was a big thrill. Mars, Hersey and Babe Ruths were available for that nickel and these were the full size ones and the popcorn was there for a nickel.
Don’t remember what I got for Christmas that year but I do recall getting out my Lionel train set and playing with that and the awful white flocked Christmas tree mom wanted. The train set was from a year or maybe two before. It was really wow. Must have cost mom and dad 10 bucks and was so heavy. It was made out of that old cast iron but had such great detail on the engine.
It was a hard year and a good year. The good made it easier to not notice the difficulties especially if you are only 6 and not having to pay the bills. We could have been rich maybe but it all worked out well with me. Can’t complain and in fact was so very blessed with my childhood. My parents were the best, can’t blame my faults and failures on them. Thanks Lord as I try to attain only a portion of their goodness.
“Ho Ho Ho’,,,Santa Claus, everlasting http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com