The second of two posts by Richard Sexson b. 1949
With most of the moms staying at home, this meant the dads worked a five day a week job. Three of the 13 families had dads who worked at Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical company. My dad was one of those three. All the fathers seemed to work the regular 40 hour week and had weekends off. My dad loved being a dad. He didn’t have such a great one himself, so he really went all out for me. Virtually every weekend, he would take me to the movies. Of course I loved the scary ones and he took me to those mostly. In many instances, he also took one or two of the neighbor kids. Some of the other kids had dads that took us to the movies or the park on occasion, but it was nothing like the schedule dad kept. I remember when House On Haunted Hill came out in 1959. We went downtown to see it in one of the oldest and most ornate movie theaters in Indianapolis. At one point this skeleton came sliding down over our heads on a wire. That made quite an impression on a ten year old.
One other thing I never knew was shortages. Mom once told me there were a few times when she and her sister had to take turns going to school because they only had one pair of shoes between them. Dad was just about as poor too. But when they married and dad got the job at Lilly’s, they started having a little. Dad started at Lilly’s in the pill factory making sixty cents an hour in late 1950. By the time we moved into our own house in 1954, we were very much middle class. We could live a fancy lifestyle, but when it came to the necessities like food and clothing, we had plenty. This was especially true for me. Mom always made sure I had top of the line shoes.
Another thing we never lacked for was food. This may have been my undoing in a way. I lived three minutes from a drug store and always had a little money to spend. Much of that was spend on candy and I was a little fat in my younger years. Mom and dad had gone through their childhoods just dreaming about candy. Mom especially craved fruit her entire adult life since she almost never got it as a child. To me fruit had little appeal since it was so readily available.
I vaguely remember Korea, but was very young at that point. I also remember film clips of bomb tests when the USSR got the H-bomb. And I certainly remember getting under our desks for bomb drills. Still, I can not remember a single time when I sat around and worried (or even gave much thought to) all of it. For a kid in grade school, all of this seemed was off and very remote. I think the only nervous time for me was in 1962 (by then I was 13) with the Cuban missile crisis.
In short, I grew up during a period when the US had a strong middle class, when we were allowed to be out until dark because no one worried about safety, when we had never heard of a school shooting, when drugs were virtually unknown in most middle class neighborhoods and when the future looked nothing but bright.