It Was The 50s and I Was A Kid, What Did I Know…

Front Porch (1)

It was the 50s, life was good. But I was a kid, what did I know…

I remember my mother waiting until supper was finished before contentedly sitting down herself, to enjoy a cup of tea and bite to eat. I grew up naively thinking that all mothers had the same routine; set, serve, clear, then eat. It was the 50s, and I was a kid, what did I know…

We never took a family vacation. However,  we were active as a family, bonding with simple, valuable, family activities: evening rides in our spacious Chevy station wagon for ice cream and hot dogs or to check out the wonderful countryside, fishing at local ponds, watching family television shows, playing games around the kitchen table, even venturing 40 miles to Boston for a baseball game.

We were part of a ‘blue collar’ community and’ living the dream’, it seemed. It was the 50s and I was a kid, what did I know…


I watched ‘Three Stooges’ reruns and my father would scoff, “you’ll grow up stupid, watching that stuff”.  We watched Friday Night Fights together on a black ‘n white picture screen and listened on the radio when a Swede knocked out Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight crown.  I didn’t grow up ‘stupid’, nor did I become a tough guy.  The Stooges taught me how great laughter is and I learned nothing from boxing, except the cigar commercials caught my attention.  I would be tempted.  It was the 50’s and tobacco was still king. What did I know…

Annette Funicello, the prettiest Mouseketeer, surely saw me in the crowd at her K-Mart autograph appearance.  I had a crush on her, every boy did, I’m sure she winked at me.  But she never answered my fan letter.  Maybe it got lost.  It was the 50s, I felt heartbreak for the first time.

Big malls didn’t exist in the 50s. Neither did video games, but we had imaginations, enthusiasm and bicycles to take us places; museums, play fields, or downtown for stuff. Several of us went together for moral support when it came time to buy our first jockstraps for school sports.  It was the 50s, we were all kids, navigating our way…

The 50s was an exciting time for new fads, new music and new dangers.  Hula hoops became an instant craze and Elvis became an instant hit.  Parents worried about rock ‘n roll and morals while the government worried about a dictator named Castro. I worried about pimples.

mother-1951            dad-1957

Sitting on our front porch in the 50s, I would calculate my age by the year 2000.  Wow, that seemed old, I thought.  But that was a long road to travel and would take forever to get there.  With certainty, it came and went. I was so young when it did. At least, looking back now, it seemed I was.

The 50s were relatively calm and peaceful. The 60s were just around the corner. What possibly could change…

…but then, what do I know?

Today, I Stopped the Bleeding: First-aid in the Locker Room

Styptic 2

I have become the purveyor of Styptic pencils in the locker room at my health center. This past year I dispensed personal ‘pencils’ to three different gentlemen who apparently have not mastered the art of shaving and sliced themselves on the lip, neck and earlobe.

As an experienced blade shaver, I understand a nick on the neck, but a laceration of the lip and excision of the ear, or portion thereof, befuddles me.  It’s awkward, if not impossible, to have a conversation with a man whose blood is squirting down his cheek, cascading off his chin and splattering onto the floor like ink leaking from a cheap fountain pen. If not for the grey hair and loose skin that is a curse of us ‘senior citizens’, the bleeding gave each man the look of a pugilist who stepped out of the ring with the great Carmen Basilio*.

However, quick action saved the day, when I offered my Styptic pencil and stopped the carnage.  For the uninitiated, the Styptic is a pencil thin chalk-like instrument packed with astringents that “contract tissue to seal blood vessels”(Wickepedia).  A short stinging dab on the cut and the bleeding stops quickly. Every blade user should have one in his kit, or medicine cabinet.

Understand, the Styptic pencil is not ‘loaned’ to the bleeder.  On the contrary, it’s a giveaway with the proper response, “no, keep it” when he offers to return it.  Then, buy a replacement to make sure you keep supplied, as I did.

Styptic pencils are not expensive and last a long time, unless, of course, one spends his workout session during the peak ‘senior hours’ when shaky hands and diminishing eyesight contribute to cuts and nicks that call for a Styptic pencil, as they’ve called for mine, 3 times.

My ‘heroics’ wasn’t life saving but it still was first-aid.  And, over time, my embellishment might just make it seem so.

Everyone who shaves with a blade must have a ‘cut story’. What’s yours?

*Carmen Basilio was a boxer who won both the welterweight and middleweight crown in the 1950s.  He was well known for being a tough fighter who would wear down his opponent as the fight progressed into late rounds.  Carmen certainly was accustomed to getting cut or bruised on his face and his ‘cut man’ would stop the bleeding between rounds. I wonder if he had a big Styptic pencil among the tools of his trade.