What We Didn’t Have in 1950

1954 Admiral Television

I was 10 years old in 1954, when we bought our first television. We didn’t even buy the television to watch television. If I remember correctly my sister had a lazy eye, and prescribed a television (talk about an expensive prescription) so she would use her lazy eye more. We fixed a screen on one side that fit over half the screen, that made her use her lazy eye. If it wasn’t for her eye problem we probably wouldn’t have bought a television so soon.

The first thing I remember watching on the television was the movie Buck Privates (1941) with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Howdy Doody would come on at about 3:30 in the afternoon, then was followed by Pinky Lee, then usually a western movie with Bob Maynard, Kit Carson, Gene Autry and many others would come on till it was time for the Camel Caravan news program with John Cameron “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking” Swayze doing a 15 minute news program. He was later well-known for being the spokesman for Timex watches, as he demonstrated how much abuse the watches could take and keep on ticking.

We only had one channel at first, so we had no problem working the controls. It became more complicated, when cable television companies began to go into business. We then had the old wired remote controls, which later went the way of the do-do bird and gave way to remote controls with batteries. Now we could not only change the channels, but could also turn the volume up and down, adjust the picture, record programs to watch later and best of all could zap through the commercials. Sponsors of the television programs were not too hep on the idea, since you record a show, then watch it about 20 minutes later and zap through the commercials and cut an hour-long show into about 40 minutes minus the commercials. After the show we would wonder who was sponsoring the show.

We got along fine without cell phones, since there was no such thing in 1950. I only had a cell phone when I needed one for working as a caregiver, since I had to call the office all night, so they knew I wasn’t dozing off at work. I haven’t had a cell phone since 2011, since I never did learn to text on the contraptions.

We didn’t Google it in 1950. We would just go to the library and would usually find the information there. It would be 48 years later, before we could Google it and find information in seconds, that used to involve riding to library and digging through index cards, or going through the reference books section to find the same information, that we can find in seconds today.

I don’t remember having a microwave oven, while growing up so got along well without one. I did find out later, that after buying one years later, that it was easy to ruin popcorn, by cooking it too long. Now I never cook it as long as recommended, to prevent having to throw out charcoal popcorn. My favorite use for microwave ovens is to melt ice cream in it. I am not a fan of ice cream right out of the freezer, so would put it in microwave and leave it on for about 2 hours….just kidding….about 35 seconds later the ice cream would be good and creamy but still cold.

It was about 1966 or 1967 when we got our first air conditioner. I was about 21 at the time and had just came back from Vietnam, and was thinking it would have been nice to have an air conditioner over there. I didn’t know how to act with an air conditioner, since I had lived 21 years without one, so it took awhile to get used to putting on a jacket when the air conditioner was running. I didn’t have to worry about putting on a jacket from 1992 to 1998, since I was in bankruptcy and had to choose between eating and staying cool and eating won out. I bought a 10 inch box fan and had it blowing on my face, and I was able to sleep at night with no problem during those six years. I couldn’t wait to get to work at Town Talk, since air conditioning usually worked there.

I remember when we were growing up that we bought ice in blocks and put the blocks in the refrigerator. About 60 years later we bought our first icemaker, since my wife liked to have crushed ice. It was nice having crushed ice, till the icemaker went on the blink. Best of all it saved paying $2 or more for a bag of crushed ice.

The only personal computer we owned back in 1950 was our brain that computed what we learned in school, and solved math problems before Common Core made it all complicated. My mother bought us our first computer, a Commodore 64 which was very rudimentary compared to the computers of today. It was mostly a machine to play games on, and we sometimes would type the code for games out of magazines published for Commodore 64 users. Later on we bought more advanced computers, but they were still too complicated for me. It took me a year to figure out how to send emails. I have never been a computer whiz. I know how to do the basics like copy and paste, but don’t ask me how to hook up a router or modem, or the computer may cease to function.

Before we bought our television in 1954 the only entertainment we had been listening to was old-time radio shows on our table radio, and playing records on our phonograph player. Then cassettes became popular, but were a real headache if the tape got tangled up inside the tape player. 8 track players were also around about this time, but I completely missed the boat on 8 track players, since I never owned a 8 track player or a 8 track tape.

The compact disc became the most popular way to listen to music, since the CD players let you pick a certain track if you wanted to play it, unlike cassette players where you had to more or less play the whole tape to hear a song from the starting point.

It was 2004 when I bought my first MP3 player and I was surprised to learn that you could carry thousands of songs, in one device and the Creative Nomad Zen Xtra Jukebox (pictured above) was my first MP3 player. It was 40 GB and I had 3,000 songs on it the last time I checked. You could go directly to any of the 3,000 songs in a matter of seconds.

One of my favorite uses for the MP3 player was to listen to old-time radio shows from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I found out I could buy 800 Jack Benny shows for $12 on a MP3 CD. Sam’s at about that time was selling about 10 shows for $20, so I bought the MP3 CD’s exclusively from old-time radio retailers and ebay sellers and it was possible to build up my collection fast. I currently own 17,000 episodes of many old-time radio shows of all genres. Best thing all 17,000 episodes fit inside one binder manufactured for CD’s.

All I had to do was place the MP3 CD’s into the computer and copy the files into the computer, then transfer them from computer to the MP3 player, and it works the same way with regular music CD’s.

Whoever invented the GPS probably had me in mind, since I hated folding and unfolding paper maps, to find out if I was going the right direction, to arrive at my destination. I don’t know how many times I had taken wrong roads, before the GPS was invented. It still is scary when the GPS tells you that you have arrived at your destination, when you are in the middle of nowhere with no houses in sight.

It is amazing to me that this lady telling me directions is flying around up in space, with nothing better to do, than to keep an eye on my vehicle, and if I miss a turn she is nice enough to say recalculating and letting me know we will still arrive even if it is a 20 mile detour to get to the destination.

One of the handiest inventions is the automated teller machine, that gives people money at all hours of the day and night. It used to be if they locked up the bank on Saturday afternoon, then the customer would have to wait till Monday morning to make a transaction. Now they can drain their bank accounts down to nothing in just minutes, instead of draining it a little bit at a time, while waiting in line at the bank.

Sometimes criminals have to call for assistance even with automated banking, if the bank card they stole won’t work, or even worse the automated teller machine takes the card and won’t return it to the bank card thief. The bank will send someone to the bank and tell them the pin number for the card and apologize for the inconvenience.

My mom was very slow when using the automated tellers, and more than once someone would walk in the building housing the ATM machine and get aggravated about the long wait, then finally go back to their car, drive off with wheels squealing in search of a ATM machine with someone faster using the machine.

Sometimes I wonder how we got by back in 1950 with no television, no cell phone, no Google, no icemaker, no GPS, no MP3 player, no ATM machine, no personal computer and no microwave oven. We managed to get by without all of these inventions, because most of them hadn’t been invented in 1950.

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The Carbonaro Effect

Michael Carbonaro pours a drink into what appears to be a levitating cup on The Carbonaro Effect on Tru TV.

 

I was going through the on-screen programming guide, when I ran across a show called The Carbonaro Effect. I was curious about the show, so I recorded one episode. I liked it so much have been recording every episode I can find.

The show can be seen at 10 PM ET and 9 PM CT on truTV.

 

The Carbonaro Effect is a fun show to watch, as the victims of the tricks try to figure out what just happened. Michael Carbonaro the magician/host of the show is perfectly cast, as his easygoing way with the victims of his magic tricks leads some of them to believe his off the wall reasons for the magic occurring.

Below is the video of the magic trick done with the bowling ball and basketball:

Some of my favorite tricks are when Michael is looking for a key in the trunk of a car and “accidentally” locks himself in the trunk. The man he was talking to when this happens tries, to figure out how to get him out of the trunk. Before he can get him out Michael comes out the front door of the hotel and says “I found the key”. The look on the face of the man, who was trying to help him get out is priceless, when Michael appears with the key.

Another favorite trick is when he thinks he has the winning ticket for a new car in a raffle. There is a security guard with a table in front of the car which is in front of a temporary garage. Michael gives him some identification, but then realizes he left his winning ticket at home, so tells security guard he will walk home to get his ticket.

After Michael leaves the security guard looks behind him where the car was parked and the car was gone. A few minutes later Michael drives up in the same car, that he was supposed to win, and tells the security guard that he found the winning ticket. The security guard is going crazy trying to figure out how Michael got the car, that he was supposed to be guarding. You have to see this magic trick to really comprehend how good of a trick that it was.

The following clip shows Michael knocking out passenger windows of cars and telling the owners, that all new cars today come with four windows. He tells them the first window is a dealer window and that all they have to do is break the dealer window and roll up the good windows. Some of the victims of this trick are not exactly happy campers to see him smash out their windows.

 

The Carbonaro Effect is totally different from most shows on television today. This article from Newsday says that the show has been renewed for another 13 weeks, before it was ever shown on television:

http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/tv/the-carbonaro-effect-long-island-magician-michael-carbonaro-debuts-his-pranks-on-trutv-1.7998828

I don’t want to give away any more of the tricks, but will say that another favorite trick is when he pours a huge pitcher of a drink, into a small cup and the cup still isn’t full. The lady tells him, that he is messing with her cognitive development, after looking amazed, that so much drink was poured into such a small cup.

 

Technology – Yesterday and Today

My grandpa who lived on a farm in Allendale, Missouri had a radio similar to this one and I listened to some Kansas City Athletics games on his radio console and will never forget how good the sound was, that emanated from that radio.
Phonograph records have never really went away completely. Now many manufacturers are building modern versions of the record players we grew up. Those being built today play records, CD’s, cassettes and even have an input, for MP3 players to play their music over the phonograph system.  Some record companies are still making vinyl records. Just went to eBay and found that there are 1,328,915 records for sale, so there will be a need for record players for years to come. Surprisingly, over 489,000 of those albums are new.  I was fortunate about three or four years ago, to find a bookstore in Knoxville, Tennessee selling record albums for 25 cents each. You can build up a collection fast at those prices since $10 buys 40 record albums.
Eight track players technology went right on by me, since I went straight from vinyl to cassettes. I never owned an eight track player or eight track tape. Not sure if eight track players are still being made today. If they are I have not heard about it.
Compact disc players can be found in portable CD players, CD boomboxes, CD shelf systems and some CD players today can be found in phonograph combos, that play CD’s, cassettes, records and have a AM-FM radio, plus either have a dock for an I-pod or a line in for a MP3 player. Some even have the capability of recording from a record, cassette or radio to a CD.
This Ipod Classic 160 GB player is the ultimate player, for those who like to record music, videos and store photos. This player can record 40,000 songs, which is equivalent to having 4,000 albums, with 10 songs each stored in this player. However, if you want to store videos and photos, then that would reduce the storage place for music. Who has 4,000 albums anyway? This player may not have all the bells and whistles, of an iPod Touch, but an iPod Touch is not going to have near the capacity of this player. One drawback to the 160 GB version is that the screen is only 2.5 inches, which is small, compared to the newest IPod Touch, which has a 4 inch screen.
Technology has come a long way from the phonographs of the early days, to machines that can hold 40,000 songs and play any song, almost instantaneously, after going through the folders to find the song you want to play or you can watch videos of movies and TV shows.
This is a Maytag ringer washing machine. There may be still be people using these machines, but they have to be few and far between, with the technology today, that lets the operator turn the machine on and put some soap in the machine and leave it to wash the clothes and come back an hour later or so and put those clothes into a dryer.
When is the last time you have seen bottles of milk, on your porch when door to door delivery of milk was popular? I remember when our milkman had only a four number telephone number on his truck.
When is the last time you saw someone actually typing on a typewriter like this Underwood Typewriter? There are probably some holdouts still using typewriters like this, but there can’t be a whole lot of them.
I can still remember the days of the nickel coke. The bottles may have been only 6 ounces, but today you spend at least $1.50 most places for 20 ounces of Coca-Cola. Back in the old days you could buy 24 ounces for only 20 cents. A $1.50 back then would buy 30 bottles of 6 ounce Cokes. So if I am figuring right, then that comes out to 180 ounces of Coca-Cola, which would be equivalent to about three 2 liter Coca-Colas today. Not many stores today sell three liters of original Coca-Cola for $1.50. Today it is usually cheaper to buy a 2 liter bottle of Coca-Cola for a $1-$1.25 or more, than to spend $1.50 or more on a 20 ounce Coca-Cola.

Magazine Ads From the Past

These ads will bring a lot of memories to the old-timers among us and will let the younger generation know about the days, when you could buy a Coca-Cola for 5 cents and a pack of gum for 5 cents.

Smokesational! Radiolutionary! Smokerette-Radio by Stewart Warner: The only combination smoker and radio set. Magazine Ad, later 1940’s
A combination radio-smoker which provided smokers with a place for their cigarettes, cigars, pipes and tobacco, while listening to their favorite radio programs on this $49.95 radio.
This is the precursor of the Sony Walkman for only $7.95, before shipping and federal tax.

 

A one pound bag of Bazooka Bubble Gum will set you back $7.99 today after inflation kicked in.

 

 

You could look up and down every aisle of every grocery store in the United States today and not find these prices. Two boxes of Wheaties probably cost at least 25 cents nowadays and two pounds of coffee has probably doubled to 50 cents.

 

Barber shop prices of the 1900’s on the left. No date given for the prices on the right.

 

Barber shop prices over a 100 years later. The shave and a haircut of the 1900’s cost a total of 60 cents. That same shave and haircut today costs $33.00.

 

Stuckey’s: Roadside Landmark in America

Stuckey’s was a place where you could fill up with gasoline, go to restrooms and shop for souvenirs and the famous Stuckey’s pecan candy.

There was their famous pecan log rolls, pecan divinity and of course pecan pralines. I have to debate with myself whether my favorite was the divinity fudge or the pralines.

First Stuckey’s Physical Building Opened in 1937

The first Stuckey’s building was opened in 1937 and expanded into 350 stores. Stuckey’s merged with Pet Milk in 1967 and the 350 stores dwindled into 75, during the Pet Milk operation of the company. Most of the Stuckey’s stores sold Texaco gasoline back then.

William S. Stuckey Sr., got the idea for the company when he had a bumper crop of pecans in 1930. His wife went to work in the kitchen and experimented with different candy recipes, which were the main drawing card for Stuckey’s, when they opened their first physical store in 1937.

After the fortunes of the company declined during the Pet Milk ownership period, the son of Stuckey, who was U.S. congressman William S. Stuckey restored the Stuckey’s name by purchasing the company and there are now 115 Stuckey’s in the United States at the present time.

Stuckey’s are found as far north today as Connecticut, but surprisingly there are no stores in either New Jersey or New York. Most of the stores are concentrated in the southern states, but there are stores in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Stores are only located in 17 of the 50 states. I was surprised recently to see a Stuckey’s returning on a trip to Houston and the store sold gasoline, souvenirs and had a Popeye’s Fried Chicken place inside the store. There are nine Stuckey’s located in Texas, but the only Stuckey’s in Louisiana according to their website is a store in Opelousas.

It was exciting to see signs for Stuckey’s, since we knew we could get off the road for a while, while we browsed the souvenir shop and found candy to munch on as we continued on down the highway. It is great to know the company still exists 56 years after our 1957 trip from Louisiana to our eventual destination of Maine to visit my uncle and aunt and their family.

Stuckey’s has had its ups and downs since the first store was opened in 1937, but it is good to know, that the company is thriving again, now that the Stuckey family once again own the stores. We want to thank them for restoring our memories of that 1957 trip, when Stuckey’s were a mainstay on the U.S. highway system.

S.H. Kress: Out of Business For 30 Years

This is the original S.H. Kress building built in the 20's or 30's before new building was built many years later on Third Street.

It seems like it was only yesterday that we were shopping at the S.H. Kress store in downtown Alexandria, Louisiana.

The original store was built on Third Street and would later be replaced by a new structure on the same street.

When we were kids, we did most of our Christmas shopping at stores like Kress where you could buy a lot of stuff with very little money.

The Christmas tree would have a lot of presents under it, but most of them would be from stores like Kress, Morgan and Lindsey and Ben Franklin.

One of my fondest memories is that of smelling the popcorn cooking in the popcorn machine in the store.

S.H. Kress stores became a center of controversy, when they refused to let blacks sit at their lunch counters and were sued numerous times for that refusal.

Part of growing up in central Louisiana were trips to the Kress store on Third Street in downtown Alexandria.

The first Kress store was opened in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania in 1887. Kress became a chain of 5-10-25 cent stores in 1896. Genesco purchased Kress in 1964 and 17 years later the company would no longer exist in the United States, and ceased operation in 1981. It missed by six years of surviving for 100 years.

Alexandria would see many other stores like Kress closed when their companies went out of business. Other chain stores that were located in Alexandria or Pineville including, W.T. Grant, Woolworth’s, Woolco, Ben Franklin, Morgan and Lindsey and many more that ended their presence in Alexandria or Pineville.

It has been thirty years now since Kress went out of the retail business. It was the same year that President Reagan took office on January 20 and would be shot in an assassination attempt by John Hinckley on March 30 of that year.

Other events that year include:

May 13 –

Pope John Paul II is shot and almost killed by a Turkish gunman inside Vatican City.

August 1 – MTV is launched.

October 6 – President of Egypt Anwar Sadat is assassinated during a parade.

December 28- Elizabeth Jordan Carr becomes the first test tube baby to be born and grew up to be a newspaper journalist.

Old Time Radio Poll

The last old time radio show aired on September 30,1962. Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar being the last old time radio shows to be broadcast.

The poll today breaks down by age groups of people who have heard old time radio shows either live from 1920’s till September 30, 1962 or media such as MP3 CD’s and downloads: