Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Little Nostalgia

Settling in was agenda item number one.  Relaxing was agenda item number two.  Both items got crossed off the list.  Pat was able to repair the furnace, the problem was several bad connector issues on the board.  A little cleaning and a little Vaseline took care of the problem.  The clothesline was attached to the back of the coach, a load of clothes was washed, a little more leveling was accomplished, the tripod was attached to the coach hitch, and a quick trip to Wally World rounded out the settling in portion of the day.  Lunch, a quick katt nap, recliner time, and reading rounded out the relaxing portion of the agenda.  Mission accomplish!!!

Judy has been talking about knitting some socks.  She saw a knitting accessory that she’s thinking of getting to make knitted socks on.  Knitted socks brought back many memories to my mind.  Our mom used to knit us wool socks for the winter back when Darry and Mickey were just boys.

Back in the mid fifties it was not uncommon to have feet (not inches) of snow on the ground for Thanksgiving.  You know, “Over the river and through the woods . . . . . the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh” type of thing (that was a Thanksgiving time song for us when we were kids).  Anyhow, come September you’d find mom knitting away while the family was gathered around the television set in the evening watching Ed Sullivan, or Gunsmoke, or Sky King, or Sea Hunt, or Rawhide, or Perry Mason, or whatever; you get the picture – a pure Happy Days scene.  Mom would knit us boys a half dozen grey wool socks with red tops to wear inside our olive green “gum rubber” boots.  Plus, she knitted us several pairs of spruce green mittens as well.

Now let’s take a minute here to describe the wardrobe of the typical 6 to 12 year old living in Belfast, Maine during the winter of nineteen hundred and fifty-five.  First, after rolling out of bed with your feet hitting the ice cold floor, you’d grab your socks.  These were your regular everyday socks.  Next, after you stripped away your PJs, you’d slip on your underwear, jockey shorts and your short sleeved tee shirt.  Then came the “long handles” or “long Johns”; i.e. long underwear – long pants and long sleeved shirt.  You’d grab your spruce green wool pants and a nice flannel or wool shirt to round out the ensemble.

Breakfast was followed by preparations for going outside to play in the “door yard” (a Maine term meaning the yard just outside the back door where play would be conducted).  The preparations would consist of the aforementioned grey wool socks with the red tops and the olive green gum rubber boots.  Then came the winter parka with a hood and the fake fur around the facial opening and the spruce green mittens.  Finally a knitted wool scarf (made by the loving hands of grandma) was wrapped around our necks leaving nothing but our eyes bugging out.  By then, we were totally unable to move so mom would carry us outside and place us in a snow bank that had accumulated in the “door yard” overnight.  “You kids stay in the door yard and play, ye ‘ear?”  After a couple of hours she’d come back out and carry us back inside to begin the shedding process.

We can’t stop here, because there is more nostalgia to this little picture.  Once back inside, Darry and Mickey had a clever little boot jack that would assist in taking the olive green gum rubber boots off of our feet.  This was a neat little device in which you’d place the heal of your boot into the opened end while standing on the other end with your other foot and just pull your foot out of the boot.  Slick as a whistle.

Olive green gum rubber boots did not breath thereby causing one’s feet to sweat a great deal so another device that was needed in the 1955 home was the “boot tree”.  The “boot tree” was a rack that would hold several pairs of olive green gum rubber boots upside-down so that they could be placed over a heat register to dry out during the night.  The knitted wool grey socks with red tops and knitted wool spruce green mittens would be laid out on top of the boots to dry as well.  Both of these items (the boot jack and the boot tree) were fabricated by dad in his wood shed (we have some not so fond memories of that wood shed, but we won’t go into that here).

One last thing about the mittens.  The mittens came in two varieties, with or without a string attached.  Younger kid’s mittens had a string that attached the two mittens.  That would keep the child from losing one or both of his/her mittens.  You’d take one of the mittens and fish it up one sleeve of the parka and out the other sleeve thereby keeping the mittens intact with the parka.  Now this was really cool ‘cause you could talk into your left hand and listen with your right hand.  Or, if you saw a kid with stringed mittens, you could pull his right mitten and he’d hit himself in the face with his left hand.  Aah the fifties, ya gotta love it. 

Well, there ya have it.  A little nostalgia from a retired baby boomer about winter life in Maine during the mid twentieth century.  And, Judy’s “fixinto” to knit some socks.  We’ll keep ya posted.

Oh, by the way.  Here’s a picture of nap time from yesterday afternoon.  Note the stylish head warmer.  This conjures up another fond memory from the fifties which was the Davy Crockett coon skin cap, but we’ll save that for another time.  


Take Care Until Next Time  - - - - - - -


  1. what kind of knitting accessory? Did she find a circular sock knitting machine?

  2. Darrell,funny how different parts of the country have different ways.To us in Colorado you would go to the "Back Yard" to play.

  3. Nice story! In Maine you play in the door yaad, paak in the drive way, and drive on the paakway.