Celebrating Father’s Day with a story for my dad about our 1950’s bomb shelter. MUSICA? But of course.
This is my dad. Lots of you know him because he reads this blog all the time and leaves wonderfully helpful and instructional comments we all enjoy reading. My dad, as I’ve often told him, is the smartest person I’ve ever known (but don’t tell Joe). He has the perfect common-sense advice for every problem. He was my daily “fix” the whole time I was writing our book this last winter; he kept me going with the most positive encouraging words. ♥ His interests range far and wide, from the garden to the kitchen. He has the happy gene and life holds unending interest for him. In this photo above he’s in the kitchen of my first little house on the island, demonstrating how to keep from crying while cutting up onions.
I thought I would tell a family story to celebrate Father’s Day. It’s kind of long, and no one was taking pictures during it, but I dipped into my mom’s photo albums to give you a general idea of the times. Other members of my family might remember this story differently ~ it comes from my ten-year-old point of view, but I did my best to tell it like it was. ♥
So here we go . . . step into the way-way back machine with me while I set the scene: the year is 1957, I’m ten, the oldest of six children (two more are still to come). My mom is twenty-seven and my dad is thirty-two. At this time in our history, in case you are too blissfully young to remember, there was an arms race going on between the United States and Russia. There was much anxiety around the country concerning the threat of nuclear war. Little baby boomers were getting under their desks at school to practice for the emergency. In 1957, President Eisenhower’s administration had begun promoting the building of home bomb shelters. My dad along with millions of others, took up the challenge.
My dad was always making something for our geranium-colored house in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. As more children arrived, he would add on bedrooms, enlarge the kitchen, plant fruit trees, put in brick flowerbeds, pour cement for walkways and patios. He built a brick barbecue with a fireplace in it where we could toast marshmallows and grill hamburgers. He made me a dressing table for my room. Extremely self-sufficient, he could make or fix anything and because of him, my four brothers can too.
Like everything he did, the bomb shelter he designed was truly a masterpiece of planning and organization. We gathered around the table one night in our jammies while he spread out his drawings to show us how our cots would fold out from the walls, who would sleep where, including Nipper our dog; how we would cook, where we would keep the peanut butter, the drawer for our games, Candy Land, and Parcheesi; a place for the yo-yos, jacks, slinkies, and coloring books. We could keep our jammies under our pillows. It was very exciting, the Coleman lantern we used for camping would be there, we thought it looked fun, that it would be like camping.
Every day my dad came home from his job at the telephone company and while his children watched the Mickey Mouse Club and our Mom made red Jell-O and tuna casserole with crushed potato-chip topping while feeding strained peaches to the baby, my dad went out back, behind the barbecue, and in the fading evening light, under the plum tree he began to dig the hole for the bomb shelter.
The dirt pile on our driveway grew and grew and was getting to be a problem. Dad spread as much dirt around to the flowerbeds as he could, but the pile had grown so high on the driveway, he had to get a run at it with the wheelbarrow in order to dump the dirt over the top. As you can see, my dad would go to any lengths to protect his family, but as he stood in the hole shoveling deeper and deeper he had begun to question this solution to the nuclear threat. All this digging was giving him plenty of time for contemplation. Sometimes we would hear him singing out there, On the Wings of a Snow White Dove or The Tennessee Waltz.
I think this is my dad’s 30th birthday.
There was no way to hide this project from the neighbors, not that we tried, because of the pile of dirt. Most of the houses on our street had as many children in them as ours did. It was a neighborhood full of big families which made our summer night games of hide-and-go-seek pure bliss. Our childhood circuses and plays had many actors with many talents; our sleep-overs took place in the backyard in flannel-lined sleeping bags, seven or eight kids on the back lawn looking up at the stars. We had someone in our house the age of every kid on the street. Their parents had all been by to look at the hole, staring down into it thoughtfully. The popular, oft-repeated joke was that Dad would be reaching China soon.
“Dad?” I said, one night at the dinner table, “If the bomb drops (so nonchalant and matter of fact), I told Karen she can come into the shelter with us, OK?” I was sure that of course my best friend, who lived only two doors over and spent half her life at our house, would be welcomed with open arms. I was just running it by him.
“Yeah,” chimed my nine-year-old brother Jim, “I told Kevin he could come too.”
“I don’t think so,” my dad said, buttering a piece of cornbread, “there’s not going to be room.”
We looked up at him in surprise.
“Have you two seen the hole? We all have to fit in there. There won’t be room for anyone besides our family.”
This was the first time it occurred to me how small that hole actually was. Six feet by ten, and twelve feet deep. At that time we were a family with six children, one dog and two adults.
“But, Jack,” my mother said thoughtfully from the other end of the table, “what if Karen or Kevin are here when it happens, won’t we just take them with us?”
I’m nodding, that makes sense. I turn my eyes back to the other end of the table.
“I’ve been thinking about that,” my dad said, “what about Karen’s sisters?” Karen had four sisters. “What if they want to come in? What about the Burrough’s and the Pfennings? Are we supposed to let them in too? Shall we build a guest-room hole to go with it? What do we do if the whole neighborhood comes down here and tries to get in with us? It could be a riot,” he went on, “we might have to shoot them.”
WHAT? The people at the table old enough to get the meaning of this gasped in alarm and beginning recognition of some sort of weird truth. Jim stopped feeding Nipper under the table, Stephen quit gnawing on his spare rib; almost on cue, Paula started crying in her high chair, took her fat arm and shoved her bowl off onto the linoleum; we all looked at Dad.
Our dad went deer hunting every year; we saw him clean the gun; we knew he had a gun. Was he kidding? He was always kidding.
SHOOT Karen and the Burroughs? My head whipped to the other end of the table to my mother who was scooping scalloped potatoes onto Brad’s yellow Melmac plate. She glanced up and her gaze landed on my dad with an audible thunk. Shaking her head, she said what she always said, “Jaaa-aaack!” When she was making a point, my mom would draw out his name meaningfully like smoke from a skywriting airplane.
In Arf and Arfy, the language she’d learned from the Little Orphan Annie comics when she was a kid and taught my dad so they could talk in front of us, she said, “Darfont tarfalk arfabarfout tharfis arfin fraffont arfov tharfa karfids.” (Trans: “Don’t talk about this in front of the kids.”)
I spoke arf and arfy, and this didn’t help.
My dad shook his head in an It’s not my fault way and used the salad servers to get some roughage for his plate. “Pat,” he said, “it’s reality. Do you think we are putting the entire neighborhood in there? Has anyone here looked at that hole?”
Chastising him with a glance that bounced off the corner of his head like a frisbee, my mom looked around the table at the questioning children who were experiencing a slow intense dawning as we realized, that even though our mom was now fake-laughing at what she was assuring us was our dad’s “joke,” there was a possibility that we would be shooting the neighbors to protect the hole in which we would be living because the air outside was supposedly poison and the house was going to be gone. This wasn’t at all like camping.
My face must have been reflecting the worry I was feeling. Up until that time, my biggest fear was that I might accidentally take the powdery stuff off butterfly wings, or step on a bee, or that a dragon fly would zip my mouth closed as I believed they could do.
“Are there going to be dead people all over the ground when we come out?” I asked, having experienced the ultimate appetite suppressant.
“No, of course not. Don’t think about it,” my mother said firmly, “This isn’t dinnertime conversation.” Her eyes bopped my dad again. “No one is shooting anyone around here. Your father is just joking.” She turned to me, “Eat your dinner honey, use your napkin, you haven’t had your starch.”
Like a balloon whizzing around the room, loosing air with that motor-boat noise it makes until it falls flat on the floor with a thwap, that’s the way our family enthusiasm went out of the bomb shelter project. No words were needed, no family meeting was required, we were suddenly all on the same page. It was fun while it lasted, but the project was over. We were throwing our fate to the wind.
My dad would no longer dig the hole for the bomb shelter. He seemed good with it. Now he was free to go dig the hole for the swimming pool, another story and a much more positive project for the whole neighborhood as it turned out. He went into the living room to eat his ice cream on the floor in front of the TV, watching the Red Skelton Show; rolling with laughter at Clem Kadiddlehopper until tears streamed from his eyes. This made us all feel much better. When our dad laughed like that, which he did all the time; everything was right with the world.
Me and my daddio.
Happy Father’s Day Dearest Dad (Arfy Larfov Yarfou ♥) . . . and to all you Daddies out there and to all you children who have loved them. ♥ xoxo
Happy Fathers Day to Jack! Reminds me so much of my own daddy. Your blog today, Sue, really touched the bases. I, too, was 10 in 1957. Remembering all the Cold War goings on, etc. Wondering if Sputnick was spying on all us little boomers…lol who knew! Red Skelton was big in our house too. Also the Mickey Mouse Club. Thanks for a wonderful trip down Memory Lane!
What a lovely tribute to your Dad. I too called my Dad Daddio, but then you are only a month older then me. I love coming here seeing the things I grew up with too. I lost my Dad almost ten years ago tho. I lost my Mom 19 years ago. Lovely to see your Dad so proud of you and commenting here. Thank you for sharing yours with us. 🙂
Father’s Day – a time to remember: Daddy bringing home bottles of Coke & vanilla ice cream for coke floats 🙂 / Always being there for me when I had to talk to someone or I would burst! / teaching me how to drive when I was 12! / sharing life in the Tetons, at our cabin across the valley from the Grand 🙂 / building the “rumpus” room on the back of the house so I could have my friends over and the family could be together better / always believing in me / sharing how proud he was of me (when I was older) / giving me the love of the outdoors and camping / always sending me cards (when I was married) with my maiden name on them!!!! / and tons and tons and tons of other things. Daddy has been gone for many years and I miss him. We could talk about politics til the cows come home (thank God he was a democrat too). And then there is my kids Dad – what a wonderful father and man. Now I watch my grandson (23) getting ready to become a Dad to his son “Felix” and know they will share so many memories over the years. And life goes on …… and on….. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy! Sue, you were also blessed with a fantastic Dad – you have shared so many stories of the days growing up over the years – you help me remember sometimes too. Thank you so much. Happy Father’s Day to your wonderful, loving, supportive Dad!!! You gave us a keeper!!!
Oh my Pat, did we have the same Dad?! I almost thought so until you said your Dad was a democrat.:) My dad was a dyed in the wool Republican, but you know what, we still had great political debates….and he always listened to me and we always (unlike today) found common ground in each other’s opinions. And we respected each other!
He was handsome, smart, loving and could fix anything! How he loved to tinker!
My favorite blow dryer just gave up the ghost and I thought of Dad…..I know he could fix it! He could fix everything.
Loved your memories.
Thank you, Chris. May we continue to bask in all of those great memories of growing up with DAD. I am sure that has been what has made up who we are today. And, of course, our mothers played a VERY important part as well 🙂
Well Dearest Susan, I think you may have outdone yourself with this one! So many of us growing up in those times may not have had perfect childhoods ala Father Knows Best and Donna Reed, but times were simpler (even with the threat of those Ruskies sending their bombs our way during school hours so we’d be forced to squat under our desks with our hands over the back of our necks. I actually thought it was a nice break from math myself :o) ). I grew up in a working class neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY where families weren’t quite as large as in your neighborhood, but there were lots of kids, and we did have those carefree evenings of hide and seek and other fun games with our best friends and their siblings, watched over by the adults sitting out on the stoops to try to catch a cool breeze in the summer heat before a/c. I think in this neighborhood, the day to day worry of being able to get food on the table and clothes on our backs trumped any worries of outside threats. I had no idea we didn’t have much money. We always had enough to eat and clothes and shoes to wear. Also roller skates and jump ropes to play with. I just remember being a pretty happy kid most of the time, and didn’t worry about those outside threats. But I know I would have been devastated if my dad said my best friend Susan Esposito and her sister Kathleen couldn’t take shelter with us.
Jack is quite the guy! Happy Father’s Day Jack!!! You are something else, and hope your day is filled with JOY! My dad was in the Navy in WWII also, but I can’t say he was quite the handyman you are. He was quite the character though, and had a wicked sense of humor, so I think you would have liked him. His name was Jerry Mahoney, so had to deal with the wooden head jokes most of his life, but he always had a zinger to come back with. I think you would have been able to keep up with him on that score :o) I miss him dearly.
Jack reminds me of my dear husband Bob who is always working on something around here to make things better. The latest is taking our old kitchen sink to make into an outside sink to wash our veggies before they come in the house (remember we’ve been remodeling the kitchen). Tomorrow (Father’s Day) he will actually be heading up to visit our 3 children who live 2 hours North of us for a few days. I’m staying here to take care of our animals (dog, cat, chickens), and watering chores for our veggie and flower gardens (it’s hotter than you know what here). While he’s up there, he’ll be helping our oldest son put in a new bathroom sink (it’s been out of commission for months), and our daughter fix her bed which collapsed when she tried to move it by herself while painting her bedroom. So his idea of Father’s Day is still being the father to our grown children, rather than them waiting on him. Gotta love these guys!!!
Happy Father’s Day to all the men who are married to all the wonderful girlfriends who follow this blog!
Susan, my husband often tells the story about the day his older & only brother picked him up after basketball practice and they were headed home when an emergency ‘news bulletin’ came over the car radio, something along the line of: ‘America is under attack! Repeat…America is under attack! Proceed to the nearest bomb shelter and take cover immediately! This is not a joke. We repeat…America is under attack!’ My husband, in a panic, told his brother they should pull over at the nearest house and go inside; his brother felt they should try to make it home, but my husband pleaded there wasn’t enough time. So they stopped at the first house they came to and my husband raced up to and pounded on the door, insisting to the lady answering that they must take refuge … ‘we’re under attack! You’ve gotta let us in!’ When she gave him a confused and startled look, my husband realized that his brother had not joined him but was still sitting in the car – laughing hysterically! It seems he had somehow rigged the radio to a hookup in the car trunk, where one of his jokester friends was hiding and playing newscaster!
Sharon in Alabama
I think I would have to kill him! Brothers!
Oh, how funny! What ingenuity too!
What a wonderful, wonderful story, Susan! I think our dads would be great friends! My dad moved to Mesa, after retiring from the phone company. I’d like to think that their paths might even cross some day… in an antique shop, at a toy train meet, at an antique telephone show, or even at Home Depot buying materials for their next projects. They would have lots to talk about and lots of stories to tell about all of the ways they have helped their daughters restore cozy little houses in MV and Elmhurst. They are both experts at building white picket fence gardens and so much more! Our dads are truly special blessings in our lives!! We are incredibly fortunate for all that they have taught us over the years! We are still learning from them. I count my blessings every single day!
Happy Father’s Day to all of the special men in our lives!
Hello Susan! What a wonderful way to honor your dad this Father ‘s Day by writing such a funny story!!! I felt like I was sitting at that very dinner table in 1957….you truly have a talent for making the reader feel the emotions of the time…maybe a series of books full of your childhood memories are on the horizon? You know, like the Little House On The Prairy books??? It could be a historical tribute to the ’50’s era in America!!! You’re the greatest!!!
My dad’s been with the Lord for 20 years…he was 50 when I was born and I was the first baby he raised (my brother was eight when my mom married my dad). He couldn’t adopt my brother because his father was not able to sign off on parental rights, but my brother took his last name and he was a wonderful dad to both of us. I still miss him and think of him every day. I asked him once if he ever thought he’d have a little girl like me, and he said, “Well, I hoped I would.”
Some days he probably thought differently…I was a wild little girl! but no one could have had a better father.
What a story, haven’t thought of boom shelters in years! My family did not have one, but our neighbors across the street did and it was a real fancy one so said my mother. Looking back, what would a fancy boom shelter look like given the circumstances and how tiny they all really were? I also remember having the boom drills and hiding under my desk. I think that was the most ridiculous exercise of all because that obviously wasn’t going to do anything for us but make us scared. Id love to find out who thought up that idea!
But, I got a chuckle out of the adorable pictures of you and your brothers especially the brother wearing the Davy Crockett coonskin cap!!! How my brother and I loved that show. I had the fringed buckskin jacket and he had the coon skin cap with a toy rifle. But what really brings back memories, is the tuna casserole with potato chips and jello 🙂 How funny that your mother said now eat up your starch… LOL !!! Well, our parents are products of their age too, and they did the best they knew how to raise us and protect us and love us and that is what counts. I think the Boomers had it pretty good compared to kids today. It was by far a safer, more innocent and imaginative time despite the cold war hanging over us. So thanks for the memories and sweet message for fathers day.
‘Sweet Susan’, what do I say ? I say I love it ! Stories,memories and families,just go together. Life lived . . . ‘Home’ ! Thanks so much for the sharing,once again ! I love life and all,its ways. The ‘DADDIO’ ? Right at the heart. Blessings for the day. Veronica ‘Sumerduck’
Happy Father’s Day Jack! What wonderful stories/memories I have been reading.
My dear father, Merrill, has been gone since 1980 but I often think, “Oh, he would enjoy this”. He had a great sense of humor and he looked like Bing Crosby. He was not a handyman – tended to fix things with a coathanger. He always happy and everyone loved to be around him.
Loved hearing tidbits of your growing up years and HOW LUCKY you were to have a Dad that could do anything. You say your brothers all have that gene – bet some of you girls do too. Whenever we buy anything that has to be put together, ha, my husband just hands me the directions – I am the one that enjoys putting things together – puttering.
Have a super day and Jack, we all love ya:) and sweet Sue such fun to see the pics and hear the tales of your childhood! HUGS p.s. Oh, yes, my parents spoke piglatin and I still make the tuna hotdish w/crushed potato chips on it now and then LOL.
What a lovely Father’s Day story, Susan. Our childhoods sound so very alike- did your mother have the Franciscan Apple dishes, too? Just kidding. You are able to capture the essence of the time so well, and the essence of your dad, too. My Dad and he would get along, too. Dad could build and fix anything, he hunted and fished and tied flies for the trout fishing he loved. He taught Industrial Arts at NMU, the Upper Peninsula’s university in Marquette and changed a lot of young peoples lives. He was Army infantry in WWII in Italy. The men of that era came home and wasted no time buildnig families. Dad is now 86 and in the care of a wonderful Veteran’s home here in our hometown. While it is difficult to see him decline, it has given me the gift of time to be sure he knows just how wonderful a Dad he was and is! I’m bringing him a Father’s Day dinner and our family will gather around him to celebrate what a great role model he was and is! Hug your Dad’s today!
Sweet messages from you always give a great start to the day.
Good Morning Susan:
How sweet this is……….How sweet the memories………even though there is ten years difference in our ages, I guess it may have well been two, because we share the same memories of that era. The bomb shelters, the hiding under our school desks, the fear of Sputnik, however, the joys of living in neighborhoods that had as many kids as we had and the gatherings of all each day for playtime, the fun, the laughter, the freedom of playing outside and never having to worry about it and coming home before the street lights came on because we had had our suppers at our friends houses. What wonderful times we were blessed to live in. What wonderful families we all had and yes, what wonderful dads and memories we share today of those times. Thank you Susan for once again, reminding us of how truly blessed we all were. P.S. you are the spitting image of your mom but you already know that I’m sure. Have a wonderful Fathers day Susan’s Daddio!
Happy Father’s Day to Jack and all Dads! What a great tribute to your Dad, Susan! Thank you for sharing your wonderful bomb shelter story! I remember very well getting under my desk at school in case “they dropped the bomb.” I am the youngest of 7 children. My Dad passed at 101 and was the kindest, sweetest man. Everyone that knew him loved him! Thank you for the walk down memory lane. oxoxox
101 — that’s what I want, plus more. more more. xoxo
Your daddy was sooooo handsome and still is! What a wonderfully lovely trip down memory lane!!!. I so love nostalgia and the 1940’s and ’50’s , so your story and pictures were a super duper treat. AND–I think you must have gotten your daddy’s happy gene–your happiness rubs off on all of us, making the world a happier, better place.
I too remember bomb drills. Having moved to Des Plaines Il from out west I had no idea what a bomb even was the first time we had a drill. Fire drills I understood, but bombs? I went home and asked my mom about it but I don’t recall her explaining it to me. Her philosophy was that children should not be worrying about such things.
Ahhhh….thank you so much dear Susan Branch for sharing this with us….xoxo…from the hills of TN.
PS–Someday would you share with us how you learned to watercolor? Did you teach yourself, learn from a book, take lessons, grow up with it?? Would love to hear the story. You make such wonderful paintings and illustrations.
Go up to the top of the blog and click on “About Me”, scroll down a tiny bit, put your cursor on My Art Studio, you’ll see a drop-down that says “How I Learned to Paint” — click on that and there you go!
Happy Father’s Day to your Dad 🙂 I love the stories of your childhood, they sound wonderful. We used to have an air raid shelter in our back garden when I was growing up. It was just a brick building, with a concrete roof, no windows of course so it was very dark and damp. I don’t think it would have been much good if a bomb had actually dropped on it. Dad eventually knocked it down and used the bricks to build garden walls. I’m glad we don’t need things like that anymore.
My dad filled ours in with all our old and broken cribs, playpens, strollers etc., then he built a sand box over it! 🙂
Thank you, Susan, for, as always, one of your wonderful trips down memory lane. Those pictures are priceless. I look back at old b&w photos and think, “Is that me.” It doesn’t seem that long ago. I was born 2 years after you. It sounds like growing up, you had everything you needed. A big reason you turned out the way you did. Way to go, Jack!!! It is funny how a lot of the “girlfriends” think alike. I had a thought, and reading the blog, I saw so did someone else. What it was: You should write a book about your life growing up. I know I would buy it. It brings us back to a time when things were so much simpler. Except if we did not have computers and the like, we may be would not have “met” you and known about your wonderful, kind nature and so many of your talents. Happy Father’s Day to Jack and all the dads out there. Can’t wait for your next blog, Susan, as always.
I just thought of something! The internet eavesdroppers are having
a field day with all of the use of the “b” words going on! They will only
find out that we all have the happy gene!
Ohhh, you’re right!
Oh how funny! I had not even thought of that!
I was a kid during WWII – previous owner of a friend’s house in a little town in CT had built a big 2-room concrete bomb shelter – open the trap door and go down a flight of concrete steps – great fun place to play! That was before the Abomb so must have been for the end of the world 🙂
My dad, too, built great stuff and taught me to use tools. Every Saturday morning was spent on chores around the house and every Sunday was dinner out because he wanted mom to have a day off. Those were the days….
My dad was a Navy pilot flying reconn flights over Cuba during that time. We lived in Sanford, FL (near Orlando) and when Sister told us to get under our desks to practice what to do in case a bomb fell, I just it wouldn’t help. One night while dad was gone, I got up and asked my mom if the communists were going to get us! I had no idea what one was, but it didn’t sound good. My friend Sherry had a bomb shelter, too, but we just treated it like a really cool play house! Ahh, God is good and I thank him for my dad and fatherhood!
I am loving all these childhood stories about how this affected us!
That was a great story. Sooo funny! Love your photos of the fifties. I remember wearing a pretty dress with little white gloves to church on Sundays. Sigh, I wish white gloves would make a comeback. They are just so “lady-like.”
I think I liked your arfy language the best. Hi-Lar-E-Us!!! I think your dad is quite the character. Great family story….
Thank you once again for the joy of your blog. You are the best-est.
Sincerely, Randi —-<—<–@
Thank you Randi!
Susan, lovely photographs from an earlier time. Those darling shoes on your feet in the photograph by the station wagon, are those Mary Janes? No self respecting lady young or old would have been without her white gloves during those days. In mid 1960s as a flight attendant we always had to wear white gloves as we greeted passenters entering the airplane. Thanks again for the family memories.
I still love Mary Janes. In fact, looking at that outfit, I would wear the whole thing right now! And yes, must have gloves for Easter!
Great story! I would like to know what you were eating at “The Galley”? fish and chips,perhaps or dear to my Rhode Island roots heart, clam chowder?
The Galley … my favorite place. I have no idea, but knowing my dad it was probably root beer floats.
Reminds me of one time we went to this little neighborhood bar and grill on the Vineyard. I ordered a bowl of Clam Chowder and it was so good, I had to compliment the Bartender, figuring, of course, Martha’s Vineyard has to be the fresh Clam center of the world. His response was, “I thought you would like it, it’s Mrs. Snows.” He was not fooling! He showed me a couple empty cans!
He probably thought “if it ain’t broke . . .” ~ but now they have Clam Chowder cook-offs and the restaurants on the island VIE to win it and they have to give out their recipe, so I think the Mrs. Snow days are over!
Someone said you look just like your Mom – indeed you do – however, I think you look just like your Dad too – including those adorb dimples:) How many of the 8 kids ended up with dimples? Lucky duck(s)! xxxooo judi
What an AWESOME blog entry! Happy Fathers Day to your sweet, precious, fun loving Father! You both are so blessed!! I work for the phone company in Tampa, Florida….first GTE and then we became Verizon. Who did he work for if you don’t mind me asking? Any great phone company stories Jack?
Let me paraphrase my next comment by saying my Dad was a wonderful man and father to his 4 kids but handyman? NOT! He was a Navy man and we had some wonderful adventures though! One of my fondest memories were family vacations every summer driving in the car and him leading us in songs….He loved to sing and passed that love down to us. His favorites were “My Grandfather’s Clock” and “Battle of New Orleans 1814″. He had a unique way of reducing the number of times we would ask ..”Are we there yet?” He would give us each a roll of quarters….$10.00……WOW! That was some big money back then. Each time we asked that familiar question we would lose a quarter. It only took losing one….LOL! Not so sure that we learned from our siblings mistakes though! FUN times!
I love your pictures…such fond and FUN memories. Love the picture of your HANDSOME Dad among Beatrix Potter figurines…so appropriate to have his picture among the things you love…<3. Please tell Joe I hope he had a GREAT Fathers Day breakfast!! I am sure the furry ones kept him busy!
My Navy dad worked for General Telephone Co. in Santa Monica CA.
“In eighteen fourteen we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson to the mighty Missicip ~ took a little bacon, took a little beans . . . ” love that song! We all know the words. When I don’t want to go somewhere, like the Doctor or something, I sing, “Please Mr. Custer, please don’t make me go . . .” No one would understand this but maybe you (and Joe!).
Yeah, they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles and they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go. They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch them. Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. We (all 9 kids plus our mother and father) sang this song sooo many times during our car trips. Brings back so many memories.
Fo-ort Hooo, no, don’t go! 🙂 What we could do in a pub together!
What a lovely tribute to your Dad, Susan. Those were the days for sure. I was born in 1952 and could remember all you spoke about. I loved seeing you all girlied up in your gloves and pocketbook (Easter). So cute! Keep those fabulous stories coming.
I also call my Dad, Daddio. It so nice when some one grows somewhat the same. I tell my Kids about the 50and 60’s . You kinda of get a blank stare. I still have a dog tag from those drills. It had our name , address and religion, so we could be identified in case we were attacked. My Dad was also a WWII Navy Vet. We spent last weekend on his ship. The USS Massachusetts in Fall River for his reunion. What a great bunch of guys (14). I learn a lot about my Dad and WWII. It was priceless spending that time with my Dad.
I was lucky and a very happy childhood. I had great Parents and Brother and sisters.
I can tell. Sounds wonderful Freddie.
Cute story! Sounds like your childhood was filled with many fun adventures! I love the old black and white pics from our childhood, don’t you? The brothers in striped t-shirts and felt cowboy hats….the cute little skirts…the dads in ties…station wagons with the wood sides! Love it all! Thanks for a fun Father’s Day tribute! xo…Karen P.
Did you see my brother’s coonskin hat? A Davy Crockett original, I’m sure!
Oh! I missed that! Cute! “Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier!” Ha!
I liked that and the cowboy hat!!! Once my son ran off from me when I was getting the car fixed. He was at a corner store buying a little sheriff’s kit. (gun, star badge, belt, etc.) I thought he could’ve used a hat too. Who knew he had cash in his pocket??? It was the summer between 5th and 6th grades.
My crazy sons!
My Dad is a retired Marine. We lived in Hawaii in 1962 when they exploded an a bomb somewhere in the Pacific. At about 2am I could see the light faintly from my bunk bed over the café curtains my Mom had made for my sister and my room. I had heard them talking about it, I think I was probably in the second grade, and wanted to stay awake to see it. There were a bunch that year and then they stopped. It made the sky kind of green. Now I know this was not a good thing! We couldn’t dig bomb shelters because we lived in rental houses on in base housing! My Dad was gone off and on and we didn’t have the internet so we had to write letters and they would sometimes have to catch up to where his ship was. He would always bring us neat things from places like Spain and Italy or Okinawa, Japan! We missed him but it was always exciting to wait for his ship to come over the horizon and us to see the lights and watch the Amtracs coming to the beach. They usually called us at about 2am and Mom would make coffee and load my sister, me and the dog in the car on off we’d go to wait on the ship. Of course it would be day break before they made it to shore! *L* But I always knew he was happy to be back home with us. *S*
So many interesting stories — thank you Cyndi!
Yes there are. I’ve enjoyed reading the other gals stories too. *S*
Cyndi, it is just adorable that your mom brought your dog along too, when your dad was returning from a mission. :>)
One of our favorite singers of the 50’s–also brings back sweet memories of dancing in the living room with my Dad.
Great story! Thanks for sharing. And I love the pictures!
Thank you for sharing this beautiful story, another small part of your live and heart.
We that have grown up with loving fathers, men of integrity and a strong work ethic are beyond blessed. It is important we share this with others who may not have been so fortunate so they can strive to be better people and to raise children and grandchildren with love like this 🙂
I got to spend the last two days with my dad. We had a slumber party, we snuck out for ice cream and took afternoon naps. I love that I can share my time with him as he devoted so much of his time to our family…
Happy Fathers Day!
I just have to say that this is one blog post that I have laughed out loud so many times. Tomorrow I must read this to my husband! It is just too funny. Thanks for the memories of the 50’s. You have told the stories well. The scene of your parents speaking Arf and Arfy…..priceless!
Nancy (from Bakersfield)
I still wish my second language had been French!
We’re hosting a 16-year-old French student (girl) next month for 3 weeks. You can come stay with me and learn French! 🙂
That’s the way to do it! Fun!
Then you could talk to the pigs — “Oui, oui, oui,” said the baby pig …..
LOL, and what do the birdies say…?
Pio, Pio, Pio, dice los Pollitos!
You still got it! 🙂
“Tweet, tweet, tweet!”…right? 🙂
In English, yes!
What a great story Susan! I am a little younger but also grew up in the 50’s and 60’s in the San Fernando Valley so I can relate. Aren’t we lucky to have been kids at that time?
How long have your Mom and Dad been married?
I lost my Dad thirteen years ago and miss him so much everyday.
Your Dad is a very handsome guy, then and now. Cherish every day you have with him, and wish him a very Happy Father’s Day!!
P.S. Can’t wait to hear the pool story!!
My parents were married for thirty years, but then life, as it does, happened, and they were divorced. They are friends, and my father has been remarried for thirty-two years to one of the sweetest women on earth. He is one lucky man, twice. I’ll tell the pool story maybe next Father’s Day!
It’s not luck, it’s skill …..you don’t know how many I had to “interview” before I found Jeanie!
A hard job but someone had to do it! xoxo
Loved this posting! Lived the same story, but in northern, IL. Thanks for the memories your story brought back including Red Skelton, oh we loved his program! We had a cellar to go to in case of attack, the same place in case of a tornado. Still, a wonderful time to be a child! What a time to be a family!
They could have stopped there, we had perfect cars, there were airplanes if you wanted one, but there were several ocean liners to choose from, nice trains, great music, phones. We had it all!
I cannot add any more stories to this wonderful litany you and your readers have documented! This is history treasure! Your details cracked me up! Melmac dishes! It’s like we all grew up in the same house with the same things and the same culture. We were so homogenized back then. We have a much more diverse culture today. I wonder what the children of today will recall 50 years from now of their childhood memories?
Thanks for the memories!
I do love the diversity of our culture, especially here on the island — people from all over, very happily living together. I love New York for that too. On some corners you don’t know what country you’re in! And because of it, the restaurants are amazing! 🙂 It all comes back to the food!
I LOVE the pictures!
Daddy’s hands ( we’re sharing Jack- remember)- love them. Happy Fathers Day!!
Susan, what a great tribute to your dad! Born in 1952, I have the same memories as you do. The TV shows, running around in the twilight summer evenings catching fireflies and playing games, keeping a shotgun in the corner behind the back door, the BOMB shelter idea…!!! We were of the working class, so we didn’t have the finances to build one, (not that my parents necessarily would have built one) but I remember worrying about what we would do. Eventually other things occupied my mind and it was forgotten. Your trip down memory lane reminded me of my own!
So many memories of the past that seem to come to light and part the cobwebs in my mind when I read your blog… Your writings are a treasure and look forward to them all the time….Ya, I am only a couple years ahead of you Susan, I was 10 in 1955 and can remember clearly the duck and cover routine and how frightening it became, as more and more people were talking about the “What ifs”……I also remember that we had to wear dog tags with name and address and phone number on them…we had to wear them ALL the time….just in case!!!Our elementary school had just been built and our class was the first to be in it..It was built with underground areas for us kids, if there ever was an attack….the building still stands but don’t know if many know about the underground there anymore….Probably won’t be long and that old school will be replaced! I remember also in our home, during those 50” years, there were the Friday night fights, Red Skelton, The Jackie Gleason Show with Frank Fontaine who always said “””Ahhhh, HiYa Joe!”…Laurence Welk and the Champagne Lady, Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Show, The Hit Parade with Snookie Lansing, the list could go on and on…but that is what was on TV at our house in the 50’s….Plus the kids shows for us kids! My Dad passed away in 1979 and I miss him every single minute of every day….Sometimes when things can be tough or I am not feeling well..I just wish I could crawl up in my Dad’s lap again like I did when I was 4 or 5 …He was a gentle giant of a man, kind, loving, compassionate, and had the best sense of humor..Boy could he laugh..until that vein would pop out of his forehead!!! Ha ha…
I treasure your insights, Sue and am so happy for you that you have the wonderful relationship with your Dad…You are a lucky woman and he a lucky Dad to have you…..Thank you for delving into your past, to bring out some of my own memories too! Thank you for that….Father’s Day was wonderful for me..I have 3 sons and 3 Grandaughters….Father’s Day was a day of much CELEBRATION!!!!!
Now, I can’t wait for the next blog….I just adore hearing from you!!!!! to see what memories all of us can dig up!!! SO wonderful! AWESOME!
Thank you Susan!!
Oh, Susan! What a WONDERFUL story!!! I LOVE your family stories, and you really bring the ’50s to life!! I remember the hiding-under-the-desk drills, and I also remember going to the nearest shopping center (before malls) and looking at the pre-fabricated bomb shelters on display in the parking lot. They made me feel so awful!!! The tiny bit of your house that shows in the picture looks kind of like our house that we had in Downey, CA when I was little.
Your writing is fantastic – you should write a book!! Oh, that’s right! You have!! Yay!!!
Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA
Just when I think your posts could not POSSIBLY get any funnier / poignant, here comes this one in honor of Father’s Day. Seriously, I have laughed until tears rolled. I just missed the Little Orphan Annie era, so your mom would have kept me blissfully in the dark with her Arf-Arfy remarks. However, I remain fluent in my second language, pig latin. Thanks (as always) for sharing and imparting such good humor to what was a very sobering topic. Give your dad a hug for all of us who can’t hug ours.
I will do that, in about a month — we’re going out to Arizona to celebrate his birthday WITH him!
Ha! And I thought WE were the “normal” ones. xxoo
Beautiful memories and pictures. You have a very handsome and wonderful Dad:)
Happy Father’s Day Mr. Jack! I miss my father. I have seen by the pictures you put into your blogs that your dad loves children. Wonderful!
Did we really believe crawling under our desks or going down to the school basement, and kneeling down and covering our heads, would protect us from a nuclear attack??? I still see the shelter signs in some public buildings. Wow!
such a beautiful story, he is such a good looking man too!
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY JACK! XOXO
We spent Father’s Day at the park having a picnic. It was fun being surrounded by other families on their picnic blankets with the kids running around. I’m impressed how quickly kids become friends. At one point, my mom and dad were telling stories about their childhood. The little kids and the big kids loved it.
What beautiful words… Happy Father’s Day to your Dad! Susan, I love love your blog and I just got my summer mini banner in the mail… it’s darling! I was wondering if you would ever want to do a post on good books that you like. You may have already done a post of that before but I couldn’t find one. I loved the one you did (I think in December) on movies. I wrote down so many and loved them all so far. But I’d love a good book for the summer… any ideas? Since I love your taste on everything, I thought I’d love a book you did. Thanks, tara
You probably found My Book List by now, but just in case … here it is!
Thank you for this fun story. 🙂 I loved it.
I have a special relationship with my dad too. I love him so much.
Susa, what a wonderful story and tribute to your dad (whom we’ve all grown to love!) I remember those crazy worrisome days of the Atom bomb scare.. Not a fun time but life finally did go on, especially for us kids..smile..
Thanks for this flash back in time!
Susan, You transported me back in time. What a wonderful story of family, reality and ultimately love. I loved the ending, sitting down in front of the TV laughing with Red Skelton… he was funny!
I can remember in the early 60’s sitting around our dinner table and talking about building a bomb shelter in the side of our hill! While this never happened, we planned to set things up in our basement should the need arise.
Thinking of you and all of your GREAT planning for the upcoming book signing tour. All of the details will soon come together! You will be meeting so many of us!!!
HAPPY countdown! Your book looks simply amazing. It must have felt like an early CHRISTMAS when Fed Ex made the delivery!
The only problem was I had to approve it and send it straight back! I wanted to keep it!
I was blessed not only with a wonderful father but a wonderful uncle who would come to get me so that I could be with my cousins for an adventure ( i was an “only” child.) We would start off about six in the morning and he would pick a special designation. Along the way , he would find a spot where he and my male cousin could fish, another where we could picnic with sandwiches made by my aunt along with her fabulous choclate chip cookies. In the afternoon we would visit a mountain or college or some beautiful scenery or even another charming town that had places to explore. He might catch a short nap for the long trip home, because he worked hard as a very gifted ironworker 5-6 days a week. We might eat supper at a Howard Johnsons! (remember those wonderful roadside standbys?)
During the day we would sing in the car or listen to some of the greatest music on this earth. Of course, some of it was not so great, butI loved an early morning program called “the Yodeling cowgirl” Of course, everyone then had to try to Yodel. Hysterical! “My gal’s a corker, she’s a New Yorker” had about 20 verses and we sang thenm over and over, to no one’s expressed dismay. The real excitment was hearing the different radio stations as we passed through different parts of the countryside. All unique and doing what they created themselves-much unlike today.
I am sorry for everyone that never had such a day because there is nothing like the long Sunday drives of those days– they last forever in your memory. They wre all about family and the sacrifices adults made to make sure that children learned and grew and knew that they were loved. Thanks, Susan for bringing those special days to mind.
Oh yeah, We had a “bomb Shelter” also. there was a slight problem with it. It was under our garage, and had vented windows(!) so you only need to imagine how “safe ” it was. We gave it up as so many families did-because having to actually use it was unthinkable.
Loved your memories Marty! Thank you!
good afternoon Susan, girlfriends…. I have a question ..what happened to the hole, did he fill it in, or make a pool out of it????
He made a new hole in a different location for the pool, but for this one — he filled it with all the broken junk we had around the house, old playpens and highchairs. And dirt of course, and then he built a big sandbox over it.
sounds like my dad…Belated Happy Father’s Day Jack!!!
This is a great tribute to your Dad, Susan! The story reminds me of the sixties when we had a speaker for our teacher inservice at the beginning of the school year. She talked about how to equip our shelters, and there were buildings around town that began to add signs that a fall out shelter was located there! I knew people who equipped their basements with all things needed to survive in case it was needed. Somehow, I never envisioned myself being one of the lucky few who would be spending my time in one of the shelters. I also wondered what would be left outside for those who had been on the inside.
Enjoy the rest of this Tuesday!
What a delightful, vivid story! Thank you for sharing yet again!
I just loved this post and all of the responses. I think we boomers were the luckiest era of kids. Even with the bomb drills and shelters, we all seem to have had happy carefree lives of playing outside with tons of kids in the neighborhood, dressing up for Sunday with hats and gloves and patent leather shoes and socks with lace. We walked to and from school, even walked home for lunch most days. You have a great way of bringing it all back. My dad was in the Army Air Force and flew B17s. He was movie star handsome especially in his uniform, and has a great personality. He mowed the lawn with a push mower and hosed down our little brick house in the evenings in the summer to cool it off. No air conditioning, just rotating fans. Life was very good. Do you remember the Salk Polio vaccine coming out? We got the shots at school every year (Made Indian headdresses to wear to be brave like Indians.) I remember pictures of kids in iron lungs. This is all willy-nilly but the memories are just flooding in! Thanks for the memories…..as the Bob Hope theme song says!
I do remember the vaccine, because I pushed the guard at the gate (another 4th grader trying to stop me, HA!) to escape the school and run the seven blocks home to my mom, because I did NOT wish to be stuck with a needle! P.S. It did me no good.
How sweet is that.
Dear Susan and Girlfriends,
I can’t think of a post that I have enjoyed more than this one. Susan’s story of her dad and the bomb shelter and all of the girlfriends reminiscing about their dads. What a grand trip down memory lane. I have checked in every day to read every single comment. We all had very special Dads and it certainly was a very special time! Was a treasured Father’s Day this was!
Such a wonderful family life you had ! Your Dad was to be commended for wanting to protect his family ! Your pictures make me miss my Dad who has been gone for eight years. Girls and their Dads have such a special connection…and it is so delightful to share the funny stories. Thanks Susan for helping me remember !
What a lovely tribute to your dad, Susan, and the bomb shelter story was hysterical!! So many memories brought to mind……I was 15 growing up in the Echo Park area but my sister, 19 years older, was living in the San Fernando Valley like you. So love seeing all your family pictures. Your folks made an adorable couple……no wonder you are a beauty too!!!!! Thanks again for yet another wonderful post! Hugs!
* Good Evening Susan…as I write this…or Good Morning…as you read this…*
All of your previous posts were so wonderful, as usual, Susan, but this one, my gosh was awesome! Of course, you had the perfect theme…Father’s Day. It is the most delightful tribute to your Dad and, as an added bonus, you shared your funny, affectionate and touching family story.
I loved it and how sweet of you to share it with all of us girlfriends.
Susan, you brought out your family memories and made us think of ours too, treasures from the past, and then wrapped them in a beautiful blue bow, as a gift to us all.
I hope you are enjoying June and Spring and Every little thing in-between.
* Luv from Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washington *
It’s been wonderful reading everyone’s memories. I haven’t commented as much because they are so beautiful I hate to change the mood or put in my two cents. They speak beautifully for themselves.
I am thinking work is blocking my comments to you! 🙁
Love this story! Loved all of the hustle bustle and LOVE we had growing up in the 50s and 60s! Greatest time ever.
Hugs to you… Your Dad… and all of those GRET memories.
Happy belated Father’s Day to Jack! I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading your post. I was born in 1956, so this really brings back memories. I enjoyed your photos, too. Thanks for all of the joy you bring us through your blog!
My pleasure Sharon, I love being here.
Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads and grandpas–Susan -you look like your dad
–it looks like you had a wonderful childhood—what a wonderful gift to any child — nina
Thanks so much, Susan, for sharing your Dad and his stories. It’s a special kind of poignant enjoyment for those of us who weren’t lucky enough to have one of our own, growing up. Since he did so well raising a large family already, do you think he’d mind adopting some of us fatherless girlfriends? lol
Hope he had a very happy Father’s Day!
We’d be low maintenance – he wouldn’t have to feed us, lol
Absolutely delightful story! Grew up in the same time and our so called bomb shelter was under the basement steps Hee hee. Our family of four would of never all fit. My parents always had a stash of food and other supplies just in case and it was impressive for our neighbor friends when they came over. The shelter ended up being a great place to play. Love your blog site and your talent is so wonderful.
What memories your post stirred up! i too practiced hiding under my desk at school. but the whole time i was planning how i would run out the back door of the classroom and run across the fields (it had to be about 3 miles!!) to get home to my mom who would be alone with just the baby! i worried about that a lot!! what a crazy world! mb
I’m sure someone already mentioned this and I missed seeing the comment, but this reminds me of the twilight zone episode “the shelter”!
Love your writing style. Keep telling us these stories!
I LOVE your old Volvo. I have a 1991 Volvo 240 and I also would never part with mine. Jo Ann
They go forever!
Absolutely precious tender hilarious story. Thank you so much for that! Shooting the neighbors. Ai yai yai!
xx to you Susan, and your dear Pop.
♥ Hello Sweet Sue…Happy Summer Solstice! I do Not Know How I MISSED this Blog! But I can not STOP Crying 🙁 I Need a Minute…. whew…I Guess cause My Daddy will Be in Heaven coming on 7 years this October….Walter We all Called Him “WALDO” & Always “DADDIO”….(Not Kidding) This Father’s Day I really was Filled with The Most Wonderful Memories of My “Daddio” Of course I Honored Jonathan for Being a Fabulous Dad to Taylor & Herbster for Being a Good Dad to His Daughter & A Good Step~Dad to Jonboy 🙂 But I was really Missing My Daddy….I know He is in Heaven Watching Over Us (I’m the Oldest of 6) it’s just Not the same but part of This Life…I Know…whew…I need some Pixie~Dust 😉 anyway Thank You for Sharing Your Beyond Amazing Story of Your Daddio JACK! He is Pure Magic so I know where You get it from! 🙂 Every Photo Every Word filled with Love & so Much Joy Thanks Sweetest Sue…. & Happy Father’s Day Jack! I know You are Very Proud Of Your Sweet Sue! ( & All Your Wonderful Kids!) xoxo Poof! ♥
The good thing about you Angie is that you make your own Pixie Dust!
🙂 xoxo ✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫ ♥ ♥ ♥
Hi Susan, Some of my family members have been here so I haven’t had a chance to look at your latest blogs. Oh my gosh………..this Father’s Day one was so wonderful. I loved the whole thing and yes we are the same age and we hid under our desks when the sirens went off while at school. I could just picture the whole scenario with you looking back and forth from your Dad to your Mom. It was a very scary time for us youngsters. I think that is why till this very day I bite my nails but it all started way back then. Those pics at the end of you and Daddio were so wonderful and the hugging one was priceless. His younger photo with all the Beatrix Potter figurines was super sweet as well as he is amongst your favorite things. Happy Belated Father’s Day, Jack! God Bless you. Fondly, Gail Buss
THIS WAS MY 17TH FATHER’S DAY WITHOUT MY BELOVED FATHER. HE WAS MY HERO AND I MISS HIM SO MUCH IT HURTS. ANGIE, I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL. I’M NOT ONE TO TELL PEOPLE WHAT TO DO, SO I GUESS IT WILL BE “ADVICE”. IF ANY OF YOU OUT THERE ARE MAD AT YOUR DAD, TRY TO WORK IT OUT, BECAUSE I WAS ENJOYING MY FATHER, HE GOT DIAGNOSED WITH A VERY RARE DISEASE AND HE WAS GONE IN 6 MONTHS, (ALSO IN OCTOBER). I HAVEN’T BEEN THE SAME SINCE. AND I NEVER WILL BE.
Aww Catherine, what wonderful advice. xoxo
I am home “recovering” from having knee surgery. It has been some time since I have been able to read and appreciate your blog…pain, anesthesia… but I have been so blessed going back and reading what I had missed while under the knife! ha.. Thank you for reminding us of pure joy… memories of yesteryear.. I love reading the comments and feel part of a wonderful “family” Susan Branch and friends….. As I rest in bed with leg up on pillows (must be above my heart to relieve swelling) I am so happy to check daily for any “news” Thanks for making me aware of what makes life beautiful…or that my life IS beautiful…if I only realize and see it the way you see yours. Blessings to you and Jack and girl kitty and of course Joe…and all the girlfriends
Welcome back Evangeline, it is so good to hear that you’re on the mend! I just added some things to How I Met the Beatles, which you will find at the top of the page under I LOVE ENGLAND. Something new for you to read. xoxo Get well soon!
Dear Susan Branch, thank you for sharing your Father with us. I laughed and then cried at the pictures of you two at the end of your post. You must have had the best childhood in the whole wide world. Wishing you a happy today, Maggie Ann