Monday 30 April 2012

A to Z 1950s/60s Nostalgia: Z

Z Smell:
Zubes - I used to take a tin of Zubes to school with me in the winter. It rattled in my satchel (yes, we did have satchels, leather ones.) The Zubes were strong and warming but I must have smelt horrible!

Z Memories:
I could write about Zombie Movies in the 1960s - The Night of the Living Dead - but that's far too grim a topic for my liking and so, as this is my last A to Z post, I thought I'd do a bit of a summing up. To be honest, it's not actually me doing the summing up. I've decided to let a video do it for me:

A to Z for the last time:
This video scrolls its way through lots of the adverts, street scenes, fashions and music from the 1950s. There are many things that we've mentioned and some things that we haven't. It includes some long lost songs too. Look out for these bits that made me go, "Oh yes!":
  • I'd forgotten how those big black phones had a little drawer underneath that contained a small card for phone numbers.
  • I'd have loved that mod black and white dress on the lady lounging across the moped.
  • Radio valves! Dad would never be without spare radio valves!
  • What a cute little policeman's car.
  • Open milk pales on a milk delivery... health and safety?
  • While Nellie the Elephant is playing there's a young girl wearing an elasticated swimsuit. I had a green one exactly like that... or rather it was a hand-me-down from my sister [right, Rifka?]
  • We never had three ducks flying across our wall but lots of people did.
  • I loved my Meccano set.

Z Programmes:
The car in Z-cars was just a front screen with a movie going on behind
them to pretend they were driving. It was basic but we all loved it. 
On TV:
Zoo time
Zoo Quest with David Attenborough

Zorba the Greek

Florence and Dougal with Zebedee from the Magic Roundabout

Z Names:
Frank Zappa
Led Zeppelin
The Zombies who provide the...

Z Music:
The Zombies singing She's Not There

Thank you so much for helping to make this 
A to Z nostalgic journey such an enjoyable one.

Sunday 29 April 2012

A to Z 1950s/60s Nostalgia: Y

Y Smell:
Yardley talc - We all used talcum power in those days, bathroom floors white with it, skin pores clogged with it, the air full of lavender powder.

Y Memories:
Yardstick - I still can't think in metres and centimetres but I no longer think in yards. There are three feet to a yard and a yard can roughly be measured from your nose to the tip of your middle finger. I can remember salesmen measuring out yards of material in this way when I went shopping with my private dressmaker Grandma and Great Aunt. They had a wooden Yardstick in their workshop and while they sewed I used it as a hobby horse. *Giddy-up Yardstick*...

...and now I'm really excited because Mr A has produced THE Yardstick. It was in a cupboard for safe keeping and here it is...

Youth culture - Teenagers were 'invented' in the 1950s. Before the war people in their teens went to work and dressed exactly like their parents and this continued during the war where they fought alongside adults.

In the 1950s a new culture emerged with teddy boys, pop music, coffee bars, rock and roll and clothes that were fun and, most importantly, different from the older generation. The culture was further spread by stars like James Dean in the film, Rebel Without a Cause.

Yodelling - Frank Ifield, Karl Denver, what was it about pop singers and yodelling in the 1960s? Aren't you glad the fad is over? *yod-ell-ay-ha-ay*

Y Programmes:
On TV: 
Yogi Bear
Mike Yarwood in persons
Yellow Submarine

Iconic Song:
Yesterday by the Beatles with over 1,600 cover versions

You only live Twice
The Young Ones *
* That's Cliff Richard IN the Young Ones and not Cliff Richard AND the Young Ones which happened much later!
Y Names:
Jimmy Young
Mike Yarwood
The Yardbirds who provide the...

Y Music:
The Yardbirds singing For Your Love

Almost there! What have I missed today?

If you're enjoying these memories then you'll also enjoy
Anne Mackle's blog at Is Anyone There? 
Her A to Z Challenge is about memories of the 1960s and 70s.

Friday 27 April 2012

A to Z 1950s/60s Nostalgia: X

[Please excuse any cheating on today's A to Z post. It's been a long month!]

X Smell:
eXtremely smelly bath salts [I know! I know! but...*shrugs*] - I loved tipping loads of bath salt crystals into my bath or dropping a bath salt square into the water and watching it dissolve. I wasn't too discerning about the perfume that came with them!

X Memories:
X-rays - A machine called a Shoe Fitting Fluoroscope was installed in most shoe shops in the 1950s. This was an x-ray machine that checked our precious baby toes to make sure they weren’t squashed inside our new shoes. The machines started to be withdrawn in the 1960s when dangers were highlighted but some were still in use as late as 1970... scary isn't it! I mentioned these machines in a previous post. I've copied out the relevant verse from a poem that I posted up called A Tiny History of Shoes. [If you fancy reading the whole poem just click on the post title.]

My first shoes were Clarks, always measured to fit
Then checked with an X-ray machine.
In those days we none of us knew of the risks
And we all loved to look at the screen...

Christopher Lee as Dracula
X Certificate films - The method of giving films an x certificate for age 16-and-over viewing was introduced in 1951. I've never been keen on horror films and so I never tried to 'sneak into an X' but my sister... [look away now Rifka if you don't want to be reminded] ...used to go and see Dracula films and then we had to sleep with the landing light on all night!

X Programmes:
On TV:
Os and Xs Test Card

The Man with the X-ray eyes

X Names:

DiXie Cups
Tom PaXton
Xavier Cugat who provides the...

X Music:
Xavier Cugat plays She's a Bombshell from Brooklyn

With only a few cheats ;-)

If you're enjoying these memories then you'll also enjoy 
Anne Mackle's blog at Is Anyone There? 
Her A to Z Challenge is about memories of the 1960s and 70s.

Thursday 26 April 2012

A to Z 1950s/60s Nostalgia: W

W Smell:
Wisps of pipe smoke - I've always loved the smell of pipe smoke. I once had a Sunday School teacher who smoked his pipe throughout our weekly lesson.

W Memories:
Andy and Teddy waving goodbye
Watch with Mother - I've been looking forward to this one. I worshipped Watch with Mother. I watched it long after I needed my Mother to sit with me to watch... even though the episodes were repeated so regularly that I could mouth most of the words. These were the programmes:

On Monday it was Picture Book. My favourite bit was remembering all the items on a tray and then spotting what they'd removed.

On Tuesday it was Andy Pandy. I loved Andy Pandy and Teddy more than I can ever say. My clearest memory is of Andy Pandy waving in a circular motion and Teddy waving frantically up and down as they sang "Time to Go Home"... [la la la... Andy is waving Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye... *waves circular with one hand and frantically with the other*.]

Bill, Ben and Little Wee-eed
On Wednesday it was The Flower Pot Men. I was ecstatic each time they said "Flobadob" to each other. Weed used to warn them when the gardener was coming by screaming "Weeee-eeeed!" and I always worried that they'd be caught.

On Thursday it was Rag, Tag and Bobtail, three gentle characters, a hedgehog, a mouse and a rabbit.

On Friday it was The Woodentops. I still occasionally copy the way that Spot the Dog did scissor walks across the screen.

Bert Weedon - Sadly Bert Weedon died just a few days ago aged 91. His love of guitar playing, his amazing techniques and his easy-to-follow tuition books influenced so many great guitarists it's hard to know where to begin.

Weedon's Play in a Day books taught The Beatles, Queen's Brian May, Eric Clapton and many more to play. Paul McCartney called him Britain's Mr Guitar and it's hard to imagine how the UK music scene would have developed without his influence.

W Programmes:
William Hartnell, the first and some say the best, Dr Who
On TV:
Watch with Mother
Wicker's World
The Wombles
Dr Who
Wagon Train
What's my Line
The White Heather Club

On Radio:
Workers' Playtime
Woman's Hour

Marty Wilde, father of Kim Wilde
W Names:

Harold Wilson PM
John Wayne
Bert Weedon
Marty Wilde
Dionne Warwick
Walker Brothers
Mary Wells
Jackie Wilson
Junior Walker and the Allstars
Stevie Wonder
The Who who provide the...

W Music:
The Who singing My Generation live at Woodstock. For more memories about Woodstock pop along to  Anne Mackle's blog at Is Anyone There?  

Thanks for making this challenge so much fun by adding 
your memories. Keep on telling me what I've missed!

Wednesday 25 April 2012

A to Z 1950s/60s Nostalgia: V

V Smell:
Parma Violets - They were sold as a natural breath freshener. I don't think they worked.

V Memories:
Variety Shows - I really miss Variety Shows on the television. I used to love the song and dance format with the occasional comedian, juggler, magician. It was pure, light-hearted entertainment and we don't get enough of that sort of thing these days. My favourite was...

Sunday Night at the London Palladium: It was first presented by Tommy Trinder "You lucky people!" and then by Bruce Forsyth, who's still going strong with his "Nice to see you, to see you nice!" catch phrase. The show always began with a line of dancers, usually the Tiller Girls.

Before the big star turn there was a short game show involving people from the audience.

As a child the highlight for me was the finale when the guests all stood behind huge letters on a rotating stage and waved as they came round to face the audience. I waved back!

The Good Old Days: This was a revival of the music hall. Everyone, both on and off stage, had to wear Victorian or Edwardian clothes and the songs and entertainment were all from that era too. It took place in a theatre in Leeds and was compered by Leonard Sachs. The show always ended with everybody singing "Down at the Old Bull and Bush" [tra la la la la]

Music/chat shows: Many music stars of the time had their own shows which were a cross between variety and chat. There was the Cilla Black Show, The Andy Williams Show, The Cliff Richard Show and many more. Even these no longer exist. I think that TV producers should lighten up a bit and bring back variety!!

V Programmes:
On TV:
Vision On

On Radio:
Variety Bandbox

Viva Las Vegas

Frankie Vaughan with his top hat and super-smooth bow tie.
V Names:

Gore Vidal
The Ventures
Velvet Underground
Bobby Vee
Frankie Valli
Ricky Valence
Frankie Vaughan
Gene Vincent who provides the...

V Music:
Gene Vincent singing Be-Bop-A-Lula

Not many V programmes but I'm sure you know of more!

If you're enjoying these memories then you'll also enjoy Anne Mackle's blog at Is Anyone There? and her A to Z memories of the 1960s and 70s.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

A to Z 1950s/60s Nostalgia: U

U Smell:
Underarms - Although roll-on deodorants have been around for well over 100 years, it wasn't usual for men to wear deodorant in the 50s and so I give you my U smell! Gasp!

U Memories:
Uncle Mac's Children's Favourites - Every week we'd sit by the radio and listen to Uncle Mac saying, "Hello, children everywhere." I've so many favourite songs from that programme that I'm having trouble listing them all out. So I've selected my favourite top ten:
  1. I’m a Pink Toothbrush, you’re a Blue Toothbrush [we met by the bathroom door...]
  2. The Ugly Duckling [with feathers all stubby and brown...]
  3. Me and my Teddy Bear [got no worries got no cares...]
  4. I tawt I saw a puddy tat [a creepin up on me...]
  5. The Runaway Train [and she blew, wee-ooo...]
  6. Nellie the Elephant [packed her trunk and said, “goodbye!” to the circus...]
  7. The Three Billy Goats Gruff [I’m a troll, foll-de-roll...]
  8. The King’s New Clothes [look at the King, the King, the King, oh...]
  9. Bimbo [Bimbo where you gonna go-e-o...]
  10. Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer [Katzellen Bogen by the sea-ee-ee-ee...]
...and now I recommend that [after you've finished reading my post and adding some memories of your own, of course] you go over to the Children's Favourites site. You can hear the original introduction music and read the lyrics of the many, many songs that were played by Uncle Mac.

Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire
wearing the infamous T-shirt... phwah!
Underwear - There are so many differences between 50s/60s underwear and the under-garments we wear today, a result of fashion, fabric technology and changing views on modesty.

Corsets and Stockings: Women wore corsets that not only held their stomachs in firmly but also provided the suspenders to hold up their stockings. When I was about 11 Mum bought me a tiny suspender belt and it was the most uncomfortable piece of underwear I’ve ever worn.

Panties: Most ladies pants before the 2nd world war were large and white and no one expected to see them in public. After the war, panties became more colourful. In 1955 an Italian tennis player, Lea Pericol, caused a sensation at Wimbledon when spectators saw her lacy panties.

Vests: Pre-1950 T-shirts were an item of men’s underwear. In 1951 Marlon Brando wore a T-shirt in A Streetcar Named Desire and began a fashion trend... but only for men!

U Programmes:
On TV:
Robert Vaughn and David McCallum in The Man from UNCLE
Man from UNCLE
Up Pompeii

On Radio:
Under Milk Wood

U Names:
Peter Ustinov
Union Gap
Gary U.S. Bonds who provides the...

U Music:
Gary U.S. Bonds singing Quarter to Three and just look at that 'groovy' dancing!

Another tough letter. Do you have any more Us?

If you're enjoying these memories then you should go and visit 
Anne Mackle's blog at Is Anyone There? Her A to Z Challenge is about memories of the 1960s and 70s.

Monday 23 April 2012

A to Z 1950s/60s Nostalgia: T

T Smell:
Tar - I've always loved the smell of tar but as a kid our Mums would stand us beside road repairers because they thought it fended off whooping cough.

T Memories:
Television sets - Some idiosyncrasies of the 1950 TV.

  • It was a big square box with a tiny screen that had to be turned on at least 10 minutes before watching to give it time to warm up. 
  • When turned off the picture would disappear into a dot in the middle of the screen.
  • When the linehold went the picture kept scrolling up and off the screen. We had to fiddle with knobs on the back of the set to stop it.
  • There were no remote controls so you had to get out of your chair to turn over - assuming you had ITV which didn't start transmitting until 1955 and was only received by a small number of households until the early 1960s.

Telstar - Although the first man-made satellite in space was Sputnik in 1957, it made little difference to our lives. It wasn't until Telstar was launched in 1962 that we started to receive live transmissions from America. I can remember that even though the reception was poor, we all marvelled at how unbelievable it was to see someone from America talking live.

Toys - Very few toys were battery operated and the only toy I can think of that needed to be plugged in was my electric train set [I loved my train sets. I had a chunky Hornby clockwork one and a smaller electric one.] We had plenty of wind-up toys with clockwork springs that pinged and broke if you over-wound them but nothing like kids play with today.

Some of my other favourite toys that come to mind [and I know you'll think of more] are:
  • A jack-in-the-box which frightened me. [I was a sensitive little girl.]
  • My plastic dolls with fixed joints and head but they came alive in my mind all the same.
  • Many of you have already mentioned paper dolls. I loved my bag of paper dolls.
  • Colouring books with crayons or coloured pencils. We had no felt tips.
  • Yoyos made of wood
  • Kaleidoscopes that you looked through and saw a myriad of patterns. I used to think they were magic.

T Programmes:
On TV:
Take your Pick, Michael Miles and shouts of "Open the box!" "Take the money!"
Torchy, the battery boy
This is your Life, Eamonn Andrews and that infamous red book.
That's Life, Esther Rantzen and dogs who said, "Sausages!"
Tomorrows World

On Radio:

Take it from here
Twenty Questions, animal, vegetable or mineral?
Top of the Form

T Names:

The Temptations who always looked so smart
Harry S. Truman, USA
Fred Trueman, cricketer
Shirley Temple
Mel Torme
The Temptations
The Troggs
Tammi Terrell
The Tornadoes who provide [no surprises here]...

T Music:
The Tornadoes playing Telstar which includes a tribute to NASA. I'd forgotten how noisy this piece of music is at the beginning.

Any more Ts anyone?

If you're enjoying these memories then you'll also enjoy
Anne Mackle's blog at Is Anyone There? 
Her A to Z Challenge is about memories of the 1960s and 70s.

Sunday 22 April 2012

A to Z 1950s/60s Nostalgia: S

S Smell:
Sooty, smoky streets - Sometimes I walk down the street and catch a vague smell of someone burning a real fire. In the 50s everyone had fires and it was a constant winter smell.

S Memories:
Sweets - Rationing ended in 1953 and, although I was too young to understand it, I do remember there being a certain excitement around buying sweets. A twisted stick of barley sugar was a favourite. I also loved Fry's Five boys chocolate bars and Fry's Five Centres.  And then there were sherbet dips, and  aniseed balls, fruit salad chews, and Spangles, pear drops, and love hearts, Bluebird toffees and what about sweet cigarettes with the little red tip to make it look as if it was alight! I used to walk around pretending to smoke! And liquorice pipes with red sugar strands on the end! And as for gobstoppers, Health and Safety would be having a hundred pink fits.
The faces represented desperation, pacification, expectation, acclamation and realisation.
Hey! I've just got what it means! The boys were asking for chocolate!

Steam trains - We used to take the train from Leicester to London to visit family. When we went through tunnels the smoke poured in through the little sliding window that had the instructions, "Do not open beyond these arrows" printed above it. The smoke made my eyes sting and it hurt so much it made me cry. We sat in individual carriages with a corridor along one side and the train made a lovely clickety-clack noise with the occasional woo-woo from the steam whistle.

I thought you might like to have a quick trip on a steam train for yourselves. London to Brighton in four minutes, the film having been speeded up, of course. It takes about an hour and a half even now. It was another of the Interlude films but I decided to save it for today.

The Saint with a young Roger Moore as Simon Templar
S Programmes:
On TV:
The Saint
The Sooty Show
The Phil Silvers Show
Steptoe and Son

On Radio:
Saturday Club with Brian Matthews
Sing Something Simple

S Names:

Omar Sharif
Peter Sellers
Graham Sutherland
Dr Spock
Phil Silvers
Omar Sharif
Jimmy Stewart
Small Faces
Eric Sykes
Frank Sinatra
Tommy Steele
Del Shannon
Dusty Springfield
Sandy Shaw
The Searchers
Neil Sedaka

Helen Shapiro who provides the...

S Music:
Helen Shapiro singing You Don't Know

There must be more sweets but have I missed anything else?

If you're enjoying these memories then pop over and visit Anne Mackle's blog at Is Anyone There? for her A to Z Challenge about memories of the 1960s and 70s.

Friday 20 April 2012

A to Z 1950s/60s Nostalgia: R

R Smell:
Rancid butter - In the days when we didn't own a fridge, the butter often had that machine-oil-rancid aroma. 

We thought these transistor radios were so modern!
R Memories:
Radio - In the 1950s the BBC had the monopoly of radio stations. There was no advertising, strict censorship for 'social correctness', announcers were not allowed to speak with a local accent, Queen's English was to be spoken at all times. This was the set up:

  • The Home Service: news and current affairs 
  • The Light Programme: light entertainment [with only a smidgen of pop music] 
  • The Third Programme: classical music
There was something called 'needle time' which meant that the musicians union limited the amount of records that could be played on the radio. They feared that their jobs would be at risk. It wasn't until the 1970s that the present system was introduced, including Radio 1 and wall to wall pop music.

A Dansette record player
Record Player - This was one of the few ways we could listen to our favourite songs. Every week I'd go to the record shop and ask to hear a record or three in the sound booth. Then I'd buy the latest top of the pops, take it home and play it over and over again with the arm up on the record player so that the needle kept returning to the beginning of the record.

I mainly bought singles, one song on each side played at 45 revs per minute. My sister had some Elvis songs that were the old heavy 78s. They whizzed round on the record player while LPs (long players) turned at a sedate 33 revs. If you left a record in the sun it melted. If you sat on it, it broke. If you danced too enthusiastically the needle jumped across the record and once it got scratched it clicked and crackled... but I'd rather have a record than a CD any day.

Cathy McGowan, Queen of the Mods,
presented Ready Steady Go with Keith Fordyce
R Programmes:
On TV:
Brian Rix farces
Roy Rogers... and Trigger the horse of course
Rawhide... yah!
Robin Hood
Rin Tin Tin
Ready Steady Go

On Radio:
The Al Read Show
Ray's a Laugh, with Ted Ray

R Names:
Cliff Richard as he appeared on my bedroom wall, Phwah!!

Michael Redgrave
Robert Redford
Cliff Richard
Johnny Ray
Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
Otis Reading who provides the...

R Music:
Otis Reading singing Try a Little Tenderness

What Rs have I missed?

If you enjoy nostalgia then pop over and visit Anne Mackle's blog at Is Anyone There? Her A to Z Challenge is about memories of the 1960s and 70s.

Thursday 19 April 2012

A to Z 1950s/60s Nostalgia: Q

Q Smell:
liQuorice - [This smell has such a lovely memory for me that I can justify my first A to Z cheat!]
Grandma lived near a sweet factory and the smell of liquorice always reminds me of visiting her. We had to wait by the factory's extractor fans for the bus home and in the summer the smell of liquorice attracted every wasp in Leicester!

Q Memories:
Mary Quant - 
This was an exciting time for fashion especially as I was a young teenager. There was hair:

Vidal Sassoon cutting Mary Quant's hair
I would have loved a mod hairstyle like Mary Quant's but my hair would never lie flat enough. And then there were the mini-skirted dresses:
Twiggy modelling a Mary Quant dress
I adored my tiny dresses. Great Auntie Alice, a private dressmaker, made most of our clothes and she reluctantly cut the hemlines higher and higher for me.

The Queen's Coronation - On June 2nd 1953 Princess Elizabeth was crowned Queen. The country was still recovering from war and this was the perfect opportunity for a celebration. The sale of televisions rocketed as people bought their first ever TV to watch the Coronation. My sister made a scrapbook of Coronation photographs. I wonder what ever happened to it.

Q Programmes:
On TV:
64,000 dollar Question

On Radio:
Anthony Quinn in Portrait in Black

Q Names:

Anthony Quinn
Mary Quant
THE Queen [Not Queen the group. Their first hit wasn't until 1970]

Oh dear. It looks as if the music will have to be...

Q Music:
Que Sera Sera by Doris Day

That was tough! I'll be amazed if you thought of any more Qs

If you're enjoying these memories then you'll also enjoy
Anne Mackle's blog at Is Anyone There? 
Her A to Z Challenge is about memories of the 1960s and 70s.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

A to Z 1950s/60s Nostalgia: P

P Smell:
Parafin - Every winter we had a parafin heater at the bottom of the stairs. It gave off a little heat and a lot of smell. 

P Memories:
Inside a 1950s phone box
Phones - When Grandma first got a phone there was no dialling tone. You picked up the receiver and an operator said, "What number please?" and she would put you through. The phone was big, black and heavy with a flex that was always getting twisted up.

When Mum wanted to phone Grandma we had to queue at the phone box two streets away. Mum would put some old pennies into the box and dial the number. When Grandma answered Mum would press button A and she'd be connected. If no one answered a call you'd press button B and get your money back. Haven't things moved on from those days?!

Mr Potato Head - I had a Mr Potato Head set given to me for my birthday one year. There was no plastic body. The idea was to use fruit or vegetables. I loved his funny hat and the way I could change his face but I kept putting him away with his potato body and when I got him out to play again he was always shrivelled up and mouldy.

Alan Freeman presented Pick of the Pops every Sunday afternoon
on the radio. It was the highlight of my weekend.
P Programmes:
On TV:
Mr Pastry
Captain Pugwash
Pinky and Perky

On Radio:
Pick of the Pops

Gene Pitney who I saw live
at Leicester's De Montfort Hall
P Names:

Sidney Poitier
Vincent Price
Arnold Palmer, gold
Pelé, footballer, Brazil
Pat Phoenix
Gregory Peck
P J Proby
Procol Harem
Gene Pitney
Pink Floyd
Elvis Presley who provides the...

P Music:
Elvis Presley singing Blue Suede Shoes

If you're enjoying these memories then you'll also enjoy 
Anne Mackle's blog at Is Anyone There? 
Her A to Z Challenge is about memories of the 1960s and 70s.