Growing up in ’50s much different than today


Lorna Marquardt, Leader Columnist

I wonder how many of you remember going to Papendorf’s store? It was located on the south side of Shawano; a popular place that sold a large assortment of penny candy. Remember the candy lipstick with gold paper? There were candy cigarettes, marshmallow cones, Turkish taffy, Boston baked beans, Chicklets gum, licorice snaps, Necco candy wafers, wax bottle candy, candy lips, atomic fireballs, Chuckles jelly candy, licorice pipes, circus peanuts, Cloves and Blackjack gum and so much more. A Sugar Daddy or Black Cow sucker would last through an entire afternoon matinee. Eating the button candy stuck on paper was no easy feat; I think I ate more than my share of paper.

Elmer Papendorf was very patient, allowing us as much time as we needed to decide how to spend our pennies. Once when I got into the store I discovered the nickel tied into a handkerchief had fallen out. Elmer noticed me standing back not selecting anything. He quietly placed some coins in my hand.

Originally the business was a gas station operated by Charles Runge; Elmer Papendorf purchased the station in 1936. He enlarged it and, in 1940, he opened up the grocery store that he operated for 30 years. Ken Trepanier acquired it in 1971 and it became Ken’s Southside Grocery.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, people often took their shoes to a cobbler when the sole needed sewing or the heels had to be replaced. My mother took shoes to a little shop located next to Pries Apparel. It was called Paul’s Shoe Repair. What a fascinating place; it was a long narrow shop filled with shoes and supplies. (At one time, it was a walkway between two buildings. The walkway was closed and made into a building which was used by Stan Tincher as a cigar store. In 1958, Paul Senzig purchased it.) I liked watching him work; he wore an apron and kept working as he visited. Peppen Lemmens purchased the business in 1970.

Lots of great toys were invented in the ’50s (Hula Hoop, Space Cadet, Barbie, Frisbees, Commando Cody, Tom Corbett, Yahtzee, Play-Doh, etc.) and kids had time to play with them, unlike some of today’s youth who seem to be too involved and busy to “play.” I hope their childhood doesn’t escape them.

Growing up in the ’50s was much different than today. We didn’t have the worries of school shootings, raping, kidnapping, etc. that occur in today’s world. All I remember worrying about was how to avoid eating those awful goiter pills, if my gym clothes were clean and if Joe Crow was waiting for me.

Kids spent a lot of time playing outdoors years ago; maybe because there were no video games, cell phones or computers. How many of you remember playing Red Light/Green Light, Draw the Frying Pan, Kick the Can, Red Rover, Freeze Tag, or Simon Says? I wonder if kids still play these games.

On rainy days, my mother let me dress up in her hats and high heels. Sometimes I had tea parties with dolls and teddy bears. When we got older, a group of neighborhood kids would get together and play Cootie, Checkers, Parcheesi, Tiddlywinks and Uncle Wiggily. We also had fun with a View Master, Silly Putty and Mr. Potato Head (we used real potatoes). The boys had erector sets, baseballs and gloves, basketballs and Lincoln logs. Many had BB guns when they got older.

Most kids growing up in the ’50s had chores to do. (Some today do, too.) We shoveled snow, mowed grass, trimmed hedges, cleaned, helped with laundry, folded our own clothes, cleaned our room and made sure our homework was done. I received a weekly allowance of 50 cents. Most kids didn’t get a car until they could afford to buy one with their own money.

I will always be grateful that Aunt Arline wrote down her memories allowing others to revisit the past through her words. I hope you readers will take the time and write down your experiences, traditions and memories for your family too. I have enjoyed sharing some of my memories with all of you. As I wrote, things I hadn’t thought about in years resurfaced and I enjoyed the process. Many of you have contacted me to tell me about things you remember; please share those memories with your family too.

The youth of today are tomorrow’s future. I hope someday they can look back as I do and say “those were some of the best years of my life.”

Answer: Shawano County Historical Society, Inc. was formed on Sept. 6, 1940. The founding president was Mrs. W.C. (Mary) Zachow.

This week’s question is: In what year was television made available to Shawano residents?

Please join me in prayer for Dan Brandenburg, owner/editor of the Marion Advertiser, who is fighting cancer.

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.