|BWS Stories - "Born in the U.S.A."...Childhood Memories|
"Born in the U.S.A."...Childhood Memories - A Fifties Saturday Night
Janet Caplan is a writer/part-time accountant living in the beautiful maritime town of Sooke, just west of Victoria, British Columbia. She enjoys writing personal essays,creative non-fiction, and the occasional book review.
A Fifties Saturday Night
Saturday nights belonged to my parents and their friends. A ritual had been established long before my brothers and I came along. The women dressed in satiny fabric, shirt-waisted dresses, often polka-dotted and full-skirted. They swished and rustled as they walked. Strappy high heels and seamed stockings made up the rest of the glamorous getups. My father and the other men in the group always wore white shirts and neckties; never mind that they'd been similarly harnessed all during the work week just passed; Saturday nights in the fifties were formal occasions. My father's only pair of jeans was worn for car washing and garage cleanup. My mother never owned a pair.
In my house, there was always a pre-ritual to my parents' Saturday night outings. That was our time; for my brothers and me along with our parents. At around 5:00 on Saturday afternoons, the radio would be turned on; it was time for the "Hit Parade", a mid 50's version of the top 10 countdown. The latest efforts of the days' crooners would emanate from our kitchen radio, mostly of course, to my parents' pleasure and musical tastes. Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Frankie Layne were all regulars on the Saturday afternoon Hit Parade -great music for dancing, and dancing is exactly what we did at 5 o'clock on those afternoons.
First my parents would start off twirling and swinging around the kitchen to the tune of a Nat King Cole ballad. Then my mother would step aside so that we could all take turns with my father, a man who loved to dance and did it with passion and flair. He'd pick my little brother up in his arms and circle the room with him. "I'm dizzy, too dizzy!" he'd laugh. We'd all bubble over with the fun of it. I was the lucky little girl riding on her father's feet as he glided around the kitchen table in time to a Sinatra classic. My older brother would be shown the proper steps - who knew how soon he might want to impress a girl at school?
After our afternoon dancing ended it was time for supper. Lucky for the three of us, since we weren't going out for dinner we got to have our favorite; steak and home made fries. There actually was a time before the frozen variety existed. A bath and clean pajamas followed; we were ready for the babysitter's arrival and my mother and father's departure.
I eagerly anticipated my parents' emergence from their bedroom. What beautiful, noisy dress was my mother wearing this week? What boldly patterned silk tie was my father sporting with his somber charcoal suit? How elegant they always looked to me! How pleased they were with themselves!
These moments have left lasting impressions on me. I have wonderful warm memories of good times, good family, and simple yet extraordinary pleasures. I have passed some of the souvenirs of my childhood onto my daughters and the warmth and laughter with which they've been greeted only underscores their importance in my life.