The fifties weren’t all fun and games, but they were our childhood…

I’d REALLY love to have one of those chemistry sets… They had GOOD stuff in them!

What we are seeing today isn’t fun and games either, but please use common sense and dial back on the rhetoric. It’s time for America to pull together to get through this mess.


TBT… — 20 Comments

  1. “What we are seeing today isn’t fun and games either, but please use common sense and dial back on the rhetoric. It’s time for America to pull together to get through this mess.”

    No. The Left never has, and never will. Rust never sleeps.

    It’s time for us to fight fire with flamethrowers, not blamethrowers.

  2. Yes, I had a chemistry set. But to make things really interesting, all the kids on the block who received them for Christmas combined quantities.

    I’m sure that today that would be cause for a scandal.

  3. Too late for the 1950’s. And the 1960’s, really. But I heard about a lot of that even in the 1970’s, and experienced some of it. That includes the metal-foil-tray TV dinner that demanded a proper oven, rather than the microwave. I’m a *bit* amazed we had one, but then Pa did like techy gadgets. It really did take until well into the 1980’s for “microwaveable” meals to become tolerable. Though I do miss the “overbuilt” plates they used to come with that *could* be re-used. We did, and they were in service for months if not years before breakage ended the service life.

  4. but extreme rhetoric is of vital necessity right now, and we will all die without it

    ive just realized that the current standards of argument permit a case for making french and spanish dead languages

    surely i will grow pustules and die of organ failure if i dont pound the table over that in myriad venues

    bob can shut in fine

    being around a bunch of agitated shut in makes bob go crazy

  5. Yeah, the things we got away with in the 50’s and even early 60’s. My chemistry set was one of those good ones, and it was the bits that went bang that set me down the path of ending up with a graduate degree in chemistry. And LL is correct, we’d get arrested today for the things we did back then.
    And Orvan, I still have three of the overbuilt microwave plates I use all the time – but they are getting a bit tired, especially since the plastic used in them was great for the power levels of the ovens at the time, but not so much for the higher output of today’s magnetrons… DAMHIK … so I retired them from microwave service and just use them as small plates for cheese and sandwiches..

  6. For real chemistry kits look at https://www.thehomescientist.com/

    They were created by the late Robert Bruce Thompson. He was a prolific author writing many books on computer science and astronomy. Upset about the current state of high school chemistry labs and the lack real chemistry sets he decided to create a chemistry set and wrote a text book to go with it. Later he add a biology set and a forensic science set with books to go along with both.

    After he passed his wife Barbra, who was his coauthor for several of the books, and several family friends kept the company going.

  7. Oh my… yeah, pretty much what I grew up with. Can I go back? Please? One of the cars (the Buick) is the first “real” car I drove (I learned on a Model A)… had the train. Had the chemistry set. Had the “pearl” handled cap pistols. Still have the dial phone (in fact, my daughter is talking on it right now).

    No, it wasn’t all fund & games — but discourse was civil, folks were (at least so far as I remember) almost unfailingly polite, politicians were pretty much what you see is what you get (they may not all have been honest, but if they were crooks you knew it up front).

    Where did it go wrong? When? If I had to put a strict time punctuation mark, I’d say the assassination of JFK. But why? Why did it become acceptable to be impolite (at best)? Why did everyone start demanding to be “safe”? Why did “love thy neighbor” change to “love me, and to H__l with everyone else?”


    • LBJ and the rest of the Dems used JFK’s assassination along with Bobby Kennedy’s assassination as the reason for so much… bullscat.

      Add to all the student uprisings and the anarchists like the Weather Underground and Black Panthers and such, gee, what a great reason by the Dem Government to screw all of us.

  8. Growing up in the shadow of Sputnik meant making the elements of science available to most any American home, to inspire kids to consider schooling and careers in science and engineering. Lots of decent re-agents were easily available. Not just hemistry sets – but real, sodium hypochlorite chlorine tablets from pool supply stores that could set off a flash reaction (beautiful, velvety red flames for folks who do pyro-chemistry – and one of my highschool friends went pro in that field.)
    Plus you could get 30% hydrogen peroxide at pharmacies.
    I was able to get flowers of sulfur from a pharmacy as late as 15 years ago. Hardware stores sold potassium nitrate as stump remover. Add charcoal and the numbers 75-15-10 come to mind…

    Also I remember crystal radio sets from Radio Shack! Fiddle with the resistor values and you could tune in ALL kinds of AM fun. One time I tuned in Boston Logan air traffic control, and for a boy in his young teens it was fascinating to listen to!
    But yeah, break too many nitrogen bonds in the same county at the same time and you’re probably going to jail nowadays…

    If any of you like reading about the glorious hypergolic days of early rocket chemistry, this one is a great read:
    The author mentions that for combustion in space you want the liquid fuel and the liquid oxidizer to light up QUICKLY. Trying to play it safe with chemical mixtures that have a little delay before they get going means that you may get a flaming puddle of fuel on the launch pad before complete lightoff – they used to call that a “hard start.”
    Or, as on US Army rocket scientist worded it: “A rocket is basically a bomb with a hole at one end – and that hole *may* become blocked.”
    (Cap. Bertrand R Brinkley)

    • Tuberculosis, too. And small pox. Semi-reliable and very painful treatment for rabies. Or, well, not understanding autism or Asbergers or childhood depression or, really, any mental illness or condition.

      Kids these days don’t understand that scared look our parents got when we came up sick. That worry that this time it was going to be the big one or that one or that other one.

      There wasn’t the depth of knowledge that we have today. Children that were ‘strange’ were kept home or sent to ‘hospitals’ because nobody knew how to take care of them at home.

      Then there were the stories of kids just up and disappearing. Joined the Circus, taken by gypsies, whatever. Who knows what levels of depravity existed, in a world where one could still run away from home successfully for the most part?

      So, yes, there are some good things about today.

      And our parents were of the generation that really didn’t have to worry about dying of Diptheria or Cholera or other 3rd world diseases. Their parents had it harder, much harder in a world without antibiotics or vaccines.

  9. Not a child of the 50’s or 60’s, really, I am a child of the late 60’s and early to mid 70’s.

    Making our own black powder? Check. Corning that black powder by wetting it and smooshing it through a kitchen sieve? That was my idea.

    Making pipe bombs was fun! Trying to make cast rocket motors (where the powder is shaped into not an explosive bomb but a self-burning shape) was interesting. Turning a 55 gallon drum into an example of a pulse jet, in the yard, next to the house? Very cool (and looking back with older eyes, very stupid, veeeeery stupid.)

    But, really, by the early 70’s, the safety police had already started stripping the fun out of life. Couldn’t buy a knife unless one was 16 or older, couldn’t shoot firearms in the city limits, no making one’s own solid or liquid fueled rockets without the correct permissions from governments small and big, restrictions on buying chemicals. Dangit.

  10. On the records list: Get A Job. I loved that song. It has been updated, though, by George Thorogood and The Destroyers in “Get A Haircut And Get A Real Job”:

  11. Born at the end of WWII, the 50’s were real to me, Korean War, I remember when my uncle a Lt. Col. artillery was shot at Chosin, he was evacuated by helicopter and they froze off part of one foot, he came out all right and stayed in to make his 30 years. I remember my dad was furious with Truman firing MacArthur. All that funny TV stuff was rated PG along with the movies.

    We had guns, .22 bolt action rifle when I was ten years old to go hunting by myself and I shot a lot of rabbits. I had a great 12 ga. single shot by the time I was 12 years old and guns were what my folks got me for birthday presents in my teens. We had great fire works and made some of our own as stated by some of the folks above.

    We also had fun cars, good music and the girls were really, really pretty. Teen age dances after football games and kids driving up and down main street until about midnight on weekends. I shared a 1960 Chevy Impala 348 engine with my mom when I was 16 and then had an Austin Healy Bug-eye Sprite my senior year of high school. Lots of kids had motor cycles and hot rods and when I had saved enough money to buy a motor cycle by working in the local hardware store my dad said no and helped me buy the Sprite.

    I went off to college the fall JFK got shot and I do think there was a culture shift that occurred between 1963 and 1967 with all the hippie shit coming in and by that time I was in the Army, all the guys I grew up with expected to be in the military just like our dads and older brothers, it was expected of us. And then the rats-assed commie hippie shit started and the media became anti-US and mis-reported so many things.

    Now there have been several generations of rats-assed, hippie pervert reporter who have no idea what they don’t know but at least in my family I have seen a shift in my kids to conservative positions and they are trying to instill those values in theirs. I have no idea how this bit of history will play out but it won’t be easy. Before Christmas I had this discussion with my brother-in-law in Dallas who is kind of conservative but not too much and he agreed it was all going to crap and then he said “At least we don’t have too much skin in the game at our age.” He would have been 80 this year but he went from excellent health to being dead before January was over so, he was right about that in his case.

    Having said all the crap above I am thankful for what I do have and it will be fascinating to watch this crappy hand we have been dealt at it plays itself out this year. God Bless us One and All.

  12. I was born May of 1953.
    One of my memories is from 1957: Sputnik. Khrushchev boasted “America sleeps under a Soviet moon,” and as a 4 year old boy, I took it literally, and consequently was terrified of the moon for a while. I couldn’t even look at it.
    In 1962, we were on the brink of war over Berlin, and there were convoys from the west, staging down to Florida for anticipated invasions…somewhere. We were moving between Oklahoma City and Macon, GA, and this was LONG before the Interstate Highway system had been implemented. So, miles and miles of trucks and jeeps on two-lane roads, going slower than highway speeds.
    We practiced duck and cover at school. One day, in 1961 or 1962, we had a practice evacuation drill, and everybody had to walk home, in groups, accompanied by teachers.

    The big deal for the guys, starting at about age 16, was the draft, and the near certainty of going to Vietnam. A lot of my classmates were drafted (I joined!) but none of us went to Vietnam; by the time my class graduated (1971), our involvement was scaled way down.

    The biggest change personally is that this redneck’s marriage to a black woman is mostly accepted, at least in the metro Atlanta area, by both blacks and whites. Then, it was a scandal to “race-mix.” One of the characters in “To Kill A Mockingbird” is a white man, ostracized for his pairing with a black woman. He drinks Coca-Cola out of a bottle in a brown paper bag, so that people will think he does that because he’s a drunk.

    The mail was delivered twice a day. Stores gave Green Stamps with your purchase, which were pasted into books and then turned in for prizes. Little boys wandered around the countryside after breakfast; we collected bottles thrown out by the side of the road, and cashed them in to get candy; at lunch time, we’d return to the house, then go out again. Everybody smoked. Eating out was RARE.

  13. All- Thanks for the comments. Y’all brought back a LOT of memories…

    Posted from my iPhone.

  14. Hey Beans. I was wetting my black power in 1968, Did I beat you on that?

    It really did make a difference on what it did.

    We took a tree down in the woods with some black powder that a friend of mine found in his garage. I wonder if his dad ever missed it.