Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The 50's—When Dogs Were Our Heroes...



Just as kids ran free in the 50's, I remember dogs running free as well—maybe it was because most of my early growing up years took place in a country setting, several miles outside of Morristown, New Jersey. We knew all the neighborhood dogs by name. There was Tinker the Shepherd mix and Shea the Springer Spaniel who hid in the closet at the first rumble of thunder—and Drifter the hunting dog. He was the only dog I remember that did not run free. He spent his days in a kennel outside the house.

This was our neighbor's dog "Boxer" and as you can see we were good buddies. The thought of a dog not being friendly never entered my little mind.

That familiar Lassie theme beckoned us home at dinner time and we fell asleep at night dreaming we could own a dog just like Lassie!
Imagine a dog that would go get help when you fell into a hole—a dog that could understand you better than another person—and could communicate that understanding!
Our family was blessed to have a dog every bit as wonderful as Lassie. Perhaps he is the reason I have had such a great love for dogs all of my life. His name was Flash—a long haired German Shepherd police dog who came to live with our family in the early 50's. We had taken him in when a friend on Long Island realized a neighbor was intent on poisoning dogs, and they loved him too much to risk that happening to him. We were asked if we would like to have him.

Flash with my oldest brother Marc
Flash was very protective of me and my six brothers. He waited for the school bus with us each morning at the end of the driveway and greeted us there in the afternoon. He positioned himself each night in front of the front door, and that is where he stayed keeping watch, protecting his family. No one entered or exited without his express approval. Often a little one could be found nestled up beside him, resting on his beautiful long coat of fur.
When the ice froze on the neighbor's pond he loved to go ice skating with the neighborhood kids. We would toss a snowball across the ice, grab onto his tail and go for a ride from one end of the pond to the other. No matter where we ventured, Flash was at our heals.


On November 3, 1957, the year I was in kindergarten, a Russian mission blasted off, sending the first dog into orbit around the earth. Laika, a female mutt who was part Siberian Husky, rode on Sputnik 2. (Sputnik 2 was a metal sphere that weighed about 250 pounds = 113 kg).My older brothers brought their Weekly Reader magazines home from school and if the cold war with Russia wasn't already underway, I'm sure this event would have triggered it in the minds of baby boomers across the country! A dog.... in space?Laika was originally thought to have survived in Earth orbit for four days, dying in space when the batteries to the cabin over-heated. In 2002, it was revealed that Laika died roughly 5 to 7 hours into the flight, from overheating and stress.
After orbiting the Earth 2,570 times, Sputnik 2 fell back to Earth on April 14, 1958, burning up during re-entry.

1957 was also the year that Old Yeller stole our hearts—and baby boomers learned that all stories don't have happy endings.

That story prepared me for an event a few years later that would impact my life in ways I would not fully realize until years later—and that event will be the subject of my next post....so "stay tuned"!
(Original artwork-all rights reserved)
















Monday, February 18, 2019

The "Baby-Boomer" Generation—Where it really all began

Time Square, New York City—August 15, 1945—
VJ day
—Victory over Japan
The end of WWII


This is one of the most famous photographs ever published by Life magazine—V-J day in Times Square. The picture was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, who said he was in Times Square taking candid photos when he spotted a sailor "running along the street grabbing any and every girl in sight," he later explained. "Whether she was a grandmother, stout, thin, old, didn't make any difference. I was running ahead of him with my Leica looking back over my shoulder... Then suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse."

I've heard the story many times but it wasn't until recently that it really hit home—I now see this day—this moment in time— as the
"twinkle in the eye" of the Baby Boomer generation.

My mother, then a 17 year old secretary working at Civil Engineering on 39th street, was one of the girls in that crowd on that exciting day in history. The news hit—the Japanese had surrendered—the war was finally over! She walked to Time Square with several of the girls she was working with and to this day, at 85 years old, when she tells the story you can feel the excitement—the absolute relief and shared exhilaration felt by everyone on the streets of New York.

(My mother, Jean Sanatass, third gal from the right, pictured with her coworkers)

She told me that servicemen were hugging and kissing the women as they passed by—

"I was shy," she says, "but it was so exciting!"

The scene took place only a few years before my parents married, and my oldest brother Marc was born—first of the seven Baby Boomers born to my mother and father.

Marc was born at the beginning of the Baby Boom but he was not the first.
It was not until recently that I was aware that there was an official "First Baby Boomer" —the first birth in the tidal wave of births beginning in 1946. Her name is *Kathy Casey Kirsching.

I've thought a lot about our entrance into this world—at that time in history. It was a time of great hope and confidence in our country; the country had come through The Great Depression, a war that lasted six long years, bringing the nation together—through their unified support and the tremendous sacrifice of lives lost.
And now our parents looked to the future with great hope. We were welcomed—we were wanted! I was one of seven children—and that was not unusual.

So this is where it all began—but where did it go?
....just who are the Baby Boomers?

From Wikipedia:
There is some disagreement as to the precise beginning and ending dates of the post-war baby boom, but the range most commonly accepted is 1946 to 1964. In the United States alone, approximately 76 million babies were born between those years. In 1946, live births in the U.S. surged from 222,721 in January to 339,499 in October. By the end of the 1940s, about 32 million babies had been born, compared with 24 million in the lean 1930s. In 1954, annual births first topped four million and did not drop below that figure until 1965, when four out of ten Americans were under the age of twenty.[1]
In May 1951, Sylvia F. Porter, a columnist in the New York Post, used the term "Boom" to refer to the phenomenon of increased births in post war America. She said "Take the 3,548,000 babies born in 1950. Bundle them into a batch, bounce them all over the bountiful land that is America. What do you get? Boom. The biggest, boomiest boom ever known in history." [2]
1951...and I was born in that exciting year. Why was it exciting? Because it was a time when our parents believed they could do just about anything! And that belief was contagious....

—we'll talk more about it in the days ahead.

*
VJ Day in New York, The End of WW II-(video)

Surrender of Japan—news reel (video)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

....The Medicine Cabinet

(original artwork-all rights reserved)



....Most days started and ended in front of the medicine cabinet, whether it was a school day or Saturday. The medicine cabinet was the place we ran to following those cateclysmic bicycle crashes, to doctor up skinned knees with that wonderful red Merthiolate and half a dozen Band-aids. There were always one or two gruesome scabs on our knees and Mom was right—they did get better before we got married.
It was where our mom sent us when we complained of a headache or toothache or sprained ankle with the instruction, “Take an aspirin!” Our moms were wiser than even they were aware of …we’re still being told to "take an aspirin"!
And of course we could always find the Vicks-VapoRub there for when we had colds. A little Vicks rubbed on our chests, a cup of hot chocolate—and seven days later we were just about all better.
Dad kept his shaving cream and razor in the medicine cabinet and when he left for work in the morning the bathroom smelled delightful— Old Spice aftershave..
Now this was a wonderfully care free time of life but there were some disturbing thoughts that occasionally entered my mind. I knew that my dad disposed of his used razor blades in that little slot in the back of the medicine cabinet made especially for the disposal of used razor blades. You can't see it pictured here, because the door isn't opened wide enough, but it's there.

*....What was going to happen when the wall was FULL of razor blades?!


And I was not the only child haunted by that thought.

*...and that childhood fear has come to haunt us—take a look at this picture taken recently by a Fort Worth Texas home inspector!



(note: the Merthiolate bottle in the medicine cabinet above is the actual bottle that was in my neighbor's medicine cabinet when we were kids...)