|Credit: Patents Post-Grant|
My sister and I spent a large portion of today with our mother, transporting her to a clinic for a medical procedure. My sister and I never have a problem talking; we are best friends. Time spent together often inspires us to recall past experiences, and today was no exception. We were discussing some of the rules we grew up with. Some may be quite familiar to you if you are in that age group known as women of a certain age. Others may be unique to the time period in which you grew up, regional or religious difference, culture, family background or various other situations.
"The 1950s were characterized by a very strict code of etiquette. Schools taught them and homes and later colleges reinforced. Well-mannered children and young adults reflected well on their parents and children were often provided with behavioral guides to reinforce the status of the family." ---ehow
Here’s a list of some of the rules imposed on us as children of the 1950s and teenagers of the 1960s:
--During cold weather, we could not go outside without “tying up our head” with a scarf.
--Money taken to school had to be knotted into the end of a handkerchief to ensure we wouldn’t lose it.
--No watching television on school nights before homework was completed.
--No pets were ever allowed inside the house.
--We were taught to say “please” and “thank you,” and “Yes Ma'am/No Ma'am,” Yes Sir/No Sir” to all elders, including our parents.
--We had to set the table properly for each meal, with the silverware and glasses in the correct position.
--We weren’t allowed to wear sandals when we were young; they didn’t give feet proper support. We wore Buster Brown shoes until 5th grade, feet properly measured at Kaye’s Shoe Store to ensure a proper fit. We couldn’t go “bare legged.” We wore socks until we were old enough to wear silk stockings, as they were called then.
--We were required to “clean our plates” at the table because of “all the starving people elsewhere in the world.”
--We had to brush our hair 100 strokes each day.
--No snacking was allowed before meals.
--Saturday night was devoted to two activities: polishing our shoes and completing our Sunday School workbooks for the next day. (In spring and summer, when we wore patent leather shoes, the preferred “shoe polish” was a leftover biscuit (and yes, that grease in the biscuit really made those Mary Janes shine!)
--We washed our hair on Saturday and mother made pincurls and secured them with bobby pins.
During summer school vacation:
--When the polio scare came along, we were not allowed to play outdoors very long when the sun was bright; it was believed in some way the sun or heat caused the disease. Also, no swimming in public pools, another way it was believed the disease was spread. (I do not know, and have not researched the validity of those fears. At any rate, the vaccine came along and we were safe!)
--No reading, puzzles or games during the morning hours; chores were the order of the day before lunchtime. If there weren’t obvious chores (and usually there were!), mother would have dust everything in the house just to keep us busy.
--Mother liked her nap each day after lunch, so we were required to take a nap as well. Naps were on the sofa or the floor with a pillow.
--Sitting on the bed was prohibited.
As we got older and were allowed to go places with friends, here were some of the rules:
--We could NOT go out of the house on Monday night. Mother’s reasoning: “If you start out going somewhere on Monday night, you’ll want to be gone every night.” It was just one of those mother rules!
--Staying up late on Saturday night, whether at home or out with friends, was no excuse for sleeping in on Sundays and missing church services.
--I felt like one of the most under-privileged teenagers in America when I missed all The Beatles performances on The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night. Sunday night was for church services, no exceptions.
--Curfew was 10 p.m. As we became older teenagers it was 11 p.m. I don’t ever remember being allowed to stay out until midnight.
--When you returned home from a date, the front porch light was on and mother was waiting for you in the living room. As soon as the car stopped in the driveway, she had better hear the car doors slam shut immediately or she’d be out the front door!
--“Appearances” were everything. You could never allow teachers, neighbors, family or community to speak ill of you because of bad behavior of ANY sort.
--No “straight skirts” until high school; they had to be gathered or pleated. I recall that mother broke that rule for me and allowed me to have a “straight skirt,” (we also called them “tight skirts”) when I was in 7th grade. I remember that skirt to this day! I also remember what a fit my sister pitched, saying I was trying to be “too grown up.”
--If you went to a school, or other event, you better stay put in your seat; no “prancing in out and trying to call attention to yourself.”
--No shorts except at home.
--You should never, ever telephone a boy.
Well, I think we grew up just fine. At the time, we thought some of the rules were unfair, but we never doubted our parents’ love for us and the responsibility they felt to raise us "right." And it probably made us more disciplined and responsible adults. Our upbringing was stricter than some but I believe it did us no harm.
What were some of the rules enforced on you when you were a child and a teenager? Did you think they were unfair? Have those rules positively or negatively impacted your life as an adult?