Reflections on life in the 1950s


Lorna Marquardt, Leader Columnist

Contributed Photo Conrad Bobb operated Tommy Store Lunches, better known as Connie Bobb’s or Conrad Bobb’s, located across from Sacred Heart Catholic Church, in the 1950s.

I doubt the good Lord is concerned about what we wear to church; He is just glad to welcome us to worship.

However, back in the 1950s and 1960s when I was growing up, most wore their very best clothes to church. Everyone looked so nice. Women wore their finest dresses or suits. Many wore hats, some wore matching shoes and gloves. Men often wore hats, too, and suits with white shirts and ties.

I had Sunday clothes that could only be worn to Sunday school, church or a wedding. I don’t ever remember anyone wearing T-shirts, tennis shoes or blue jeans to church or Sunday school back then; not even if they were new. Everyone dressed up for weddings and funerals, too. Maybe it was a form of respect.

Saturday nights were busy. Mother checked our Sunday school work, shoes were polished, a bath was a must, and hair was shampooed.

Penny loafers and saddle shoes were popular back in my school days. I wore skirts, blouses and sweaters to school; no sweatshirts, jeans or short skirts. I had a favorite black skirt adorned with a pink poodle. It was store bought, but Grandma made most of my skirts. I wore my hair in a ponytail. My dad didn’t want me to wear makeup, not even lipstick. When I went to high school, sometimes a friend would let me put hers on, but I had to wipe it off before heading home.

Roller-skating was such fun. We skated on the sidewalks in Marion, sometimes on the road. When I stayed at Grandma’s, sometimes I went to the roller rink on South Main Street. While attending high school, we went to Shawano County Park to skate. We did the limbo on skates … how low could we go. A friend of mine taught me to dance on skates and we were real showoffs. What a lifetime ago.

Aunt Arline often took my cousins and me to the beach by the Shawano Community Hospital. I liked reading more than swimming, so I took a book along and sat in the sun after a quick swim. It was such a popular place. There were lifeguards and strict rules as to how far out swimmers could go. Aunt Arline always stayed, as did many of the adults. I guess it was an outing for them too.

When my mother and dad picked me up after my stay at Grandma’s, we would sometimes stop in at a little hamburger place, Tommy Store Lunches, better known as Connie Bobb’s or Conrad Bobb’s. It was across the street from Sacred Heart Church. It was so small inside, there was only room for about eight or 10 stools. Mr. Bobb served burgers and chili. He was a tall man. I think sometimes he had to stoop down, the place was so small. People lined up outside and waited their turn for a stool.

Grandma and Grandpa did their weekly shopping Friday mornings. We went to town in Grandpa’s Model A. I don’t think we went faster than 10 or 15 miles an hour. Grandma shopped at A & P, Red Owl, Ecke’s and O’Briens. She was very frugal and carefully compared prices. Sometimes Grandpa let me tag along with him to Gambles or Montgomery Wards. When Grandma needed to buy a gift, she often went to Chaimson’s and purchased a box of handkerchiefs.

When we were finished shopping, Grandpa always stopped at Buchholz’s Bar for a shot and a beer. Grandma and I stayed in the car. Grandpa didn’t believe women or kids belonged in a tavern.

Grandma didn’t have decorations in the house, but she did have beautiful African violets, lots of them. Grandma planted flowers outside, too. Her favorites were the colorful pansies.

Grandma grew a large garden. She canned beets, carrots, pickles and tomatoes. Grandpa planted the potatoes and when they were ready, he dug them up and put them in gunnysacks. All the produce was stored in the basement fruit cellar.

I always hoped I wouldn’t be visiting when Grandpa made head cheese and blood sausage. More importantly, I hoped I wouldn’t be there when it was served.

Spending time cutting out paper dolls and playing with them was a favorite pastime of mine. Paper dolls were popular in the ’50s. The dolls’ clothes were great. Some were dressy and some sporty, and I secretly wished they were mine. I recently purchased some very old Raggedy Ann and Andy paper dolls at an antique store. Perhaps there is still a little girl inside.

Answer to last week’s question: Hardee’s opened in Shawano in 1973. Irvin Rybacki was co-owner/manager.

This week’s question: In what year was the Shawano County Historical Society Inc. formed and who was the founding president?

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.