When I was a kid, we had a fairly rigid morning routine. The house was small, and my brothers and I slept in the (finished) attic. There was only a single bathroom, but in later years my father built a shower in the basement near the drain, but we were a bath-at-night family during the early years. In the morning we would dress, wait our turn at the toilet, and eat a bowl of cereal.
My mother would have been awake for at least on hour before we were up. A banker, she would dress nicely for work. She was usually not ready, though, when we got up. She would be part of the way there, but usually was wearing a house coat (a fancy robe) and had curlers in her hair.
Mom would put the cereal on the kitchen table and make us lunch. For cereal, we usually had a choice of Rice Krispies or Cheerios. Occasionally we were spoiled with Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, or Coco Puffs. (During the Quake and Quisp years, we were a Quake house.) Come to think of it, we usually had Cap’n Crunch, and only were without sweetened cereals when my father went on a health rampage, declaring the extra sugar evil.
Mom made balogna sandwiches for lunch. Two slices of Wonder Bread, two slices of bologna, and two swipes of mustard. Occasionaly we were treated with some potato chips, but usually not. We got a quarter for milk, which could buy a few milks and some pretzel rods. I splurged for chocolate milks, feeling the extra penny was worth it.
We had about a half-mile walk to the elementary school, so we were out the door by 7:30 am. I know we watched cartoons in the morning, so we were probably up by 6:30 am most days, to give us that extra time to watch TV.
This brief remembrance may make it sound quiet and lovely, but I know it was tense and stressful most days. We lived in a small house, so there was very little room for book bags, musical instruments, and projects. Things were left on the stairs to our room, but things were also misplaced, covered up, and lost. There was yelling to keep us moving, and fighting over which lousy TV show to watch.
I was prone to anxiety attacks, and freaked out about little things, and sometimes my mother would drive me just to get me to shut up about being late.
Still, one memory sticks out. It was winter, and the furnace was slow to warm the house. So my mother had the gas stove going full blast, and left the door open to warm the kitchen. It was, to her, the equivalent of her own childhood, during the depression, during which they would not burn coal in the furnace because they couldn’t afford it. She would get up in the mornings, sometimes with frost in her room, kept warm by the shared heat of her sisters, with whom she slept.
They would dress in the freezing cold, and then run to the kitchen to find the heat. Once there, her father would toast bread in the oven. Thus they would start their day.
In part two, I’ll describe our current equivalents, and explain how this generation so is much weaker than mine, and how my generation was weaker than my parents’.