Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This is My Birthday Month

This is going to be a really big birthday for me--I'll be 80! I can't believe it, I sure don't feel 80. (Well, maybe physically. I don't really look forward to flying anymore--and I can't pick up some of my heavier greatgrands.) However, in my mind I still feel young.

Being honest though, how on earth could I have all these memories without living 80 years on this earth?

My childhood holds memories of World War II, scary stuff we saw on the newsreels at the movies, air raids where we kept blackout curtains over the windows and hid in an inner room with no windows and played board games by the light of a lantern, playing hide 'n go seek with friends while our parents were at a block warden meeting, making poison with a girlfriend to poison the enemy when they came to shore and we would be child spies, telling everyone my sister was a princess from Europe we were keeping safe (poor kid thought she was adopted for awhile), not being able to get bubble gum.

Radio was the big nightly entertainment for a long time--and the best radio shows were on: Let's Pretend on Saturdays (and I can still sing the commercial for Cream of Wheat), One Man's Family on Sunday's (and a friend of mine grew up playing a part on that show), and of course many great mysteries and scary shows: Inner Sanctum, The Shadow Knows, and much, more. I did my homework while listening to them. 

We were the first in our neighborhood to get a television because my dad made one from a Heath kit. My sister and I helped all night as he asked us to bring him this wire and that. We also helped hold guide wires when he installed a huge antenna on the roof--as did almost every kid in the neighborhood. We watched whatever was on the one channel--Beannie and Cecil (hand puppets), wrestling (my favorite wrestler was Argentine Rocca), roller derby--and frankly, that's what I remember best from that time period. Of course the whole neighborhood came and watched with us. 

In sixth grade, I came down with rheumatic fever. In those days, you had to stay in bed for 6 weeks, so no school for me. My teacher brought me work to do. I graduated with my class and got all A's on my report card.

We went to the movies almost every Friday night and it didn't matter what was playing. Always two features, one a first class movie, the second a B movie, a newsreel, a cartoon, and of course a game played at intermission time where some lucky person won dishes. The B movies I remember were about gangsters and I had lots of nightmares about them.

I had my own little Philco radio and for some reason it picked up police calls. I wasn't supposed to listen to them, but I often did long after I was supposed to be asleep. I heard the police calls when the Black Dahlia's body was found--and what was said by the officers was graphic and detailed. In the night, I reached down and found what I though was a leg and screamed. My mom came in, turned on the light, and the leg belonged to my sister who had been frightened by what I'd been listening to and climbed onto the bottom of my bed.

And that's only a small part of what I can remember--so I guess I have lived for nearly 80 years.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith


  1. I am not quite as far along as you - but some of the things I remember are just as strange. In elementary school, I lived near a big industrial complex (now it is in Korea or something I am sure). All the children in our school were tattooed with their blood type and issued a dog tag. Those actions were taken so that when our area was bombed by the Communist enemy, or bodies could be identified and if we happened to live and needed blood the type would be right there on our side. Of course, the tattoo is impossible to read - just a blue blurb and no one ever has looked for it.

    I remember radio, and I loved the same shows you listened too. They must have been broadcast for quite a few years. I do not know the Cream of Wheat song, but I can sing the Buster Brown shoes song, or the Ipana song. Just let me know if you need to hear those.

  2. Happy Birthday Marilyn from both halves of Evelyn David.

  3. Happiest of birthdays, Marilyn! 80 is a milestone, to be sure. Mazel tov on having lived such a memorable, loving, creative life!

  4. Happy, happy, happy birthday, Marilyn!!!

  5. Thank you everyone. I still can't believe it. I shouldn't be too surprised though since my mom lived to be 97 and my auntie 100.

  6. Happy Birthday! Compared to your mom and your aunt, you're just a kid, still in the prime of your life!

    I loved your reminiscences, by the way.