In his latest “Dear Grandson,” Stan Gerding writes to his grandson about the Korean conflict and presidential politics, TV shows and entertainment, and what $1.50 could buy.
When I was a little guy, five or six years old, the Korean conflict (war) was happening. Of course, I had no clue what that was all about. Hell, I couldn’t read, so newspapers were out of the question and I never understood what was being said on the news on the radio.
I do know my parents were always discussing the presidential election of 1952 and it seemed that my parents who were registered Democrats were leaning to vote for Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican nominee. What I couldn’t understand was his opponent was a Catholic and we were Catholics, who could figure? I was only five years old.
We didn’t have a TV until I was seven or eight. When we got one, guess who got to choose what we were going to watch? My parents of course were the ones to choose programming. The only time I got to pick was on Saturday morning when all the kids shows were on like Sky King, The Lone Ranger, My Friend Flicka, and Superman. You get the picture.
My dad’s brother would come to the house on Friday nights for the Friday Night Fights. I got to watch some of the greats like Sugar Ray Robinson, Archie Moore, Rocky Marciano and … you are probably wondering, Who in the heck are these guys?! Google them, my grandson, and learn who they were. The only bad thing about watching those Friday night fights was the fact that my dad and uncle would sit there and snack on Limburger cheese and onion; and let me tell you, you don’t even want to smell that stuff!
I always spent a lot of time outdoors playing with my friends. We played kick the can, hide and seek, cops and robbers, and of course rode our bikes. My bike was a hand-me-down from my brothers. It was old and had been painted about three or four times. I loved my bike and loved riding with my buddies. When we rode, there was usually ten or twelve of us, almost seemed like a gang. Well, I guess we were a gang … a gang of kids!
As I got older, I would cut our grass and a few of our neighbors’ yards and earned a little money. In the winter, I would earn a little money shoveling snow for people around the town. One time, I remember making a dollar fifty after shoveling five walkways for people. $1.50 was a lot of money in those days. I’ll give you an idea what that could buy at a grocery store: one loaf of bread, a pound of hot dogs, a jar of mustard, a quart of milk, and a box of cookies. You could buy a brand-new car for less than $2000, depending on the car.
I always spent a lot of time outdoors playing with my friends. We played kick the can, hide and seek, cops and robbers, and of course rode our bikes. My bike was a hand-me-down from my brothers.
Still, times were hard, and wages were minimal. When Christmas was approaching, my mother would tell us boys to pick one toy out of the Sears or Spiegel catalog and that was our Christmas present that year.
I was really into music in the mid ’50s. My mother bought me a record player for Christmas and my brothers each gave me a 45-rpm record. Every week, I would ride my bike down to Newport and buy a hit record for that week. I started to have quite a collection of records and I would play them over and over again. I would also sing along with them and at times I would sing the songs without the music. That was the start of my singing days.
By the way, your dad has my old collection of records and I am sure he has made you listen to them.
Well, that’s all I have for you this day. More to come, Grandson.
Stan Gerding is the author of the book The Nam “Doc” A Navy Corpsman’s Story.