Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, July 29, 2023

The Changes I've Seen in my Lifetime

 A Big Family Week:

Birthday photo with my children, Dave & Susie

Birthday photo at the "almost open" Capital Bar in Sanford

Cassidy's birthday is two days before mine. We celebrated in absentia with an old photo of our 17-year-old almost licensed pilot.

The Citrus Singers performed several times over the course of the International Girl Scout Convention in Orlando last week. (To great acclaim.) Below, a nostalgic moment, the final time Riley packed up equipment after a performance. She has not only aged out of Scouts but will be going off to Stetson University this fall.



Having just passed a birthday that has me inching up on Methusaleh, I've spent a bit of time over the past few weeks thinking about the world that was. And decided it might be fun to share a few things with those who never knew that world. I've scribbled a whole bunch of notes but have undoubtedly forgotten a thousand changes I should have included, but here are the ones that seem most significant to me.

1.  Freedom. I was given an enormous amount of freedom to wander as a child, to play where I would, enjoy solitude if I pleased. My own children enjoyed the same freedom. And I hope that's still true in some small towns, but all too many of today's children never venture out of the house without an adult. They go to the park, have play-dates, etc., every moment under adult supervision. Yes, I know the world has changed, but not learning to be on one's own is a serious detriment to growing into an independent grown-up.

Grace note:  This is not my imagination. As previously mentioned on this blog, when I toured the FBI Academy a decade ago, we were told that it was getting harder and harder to find recruits with "street smarts." Children were no longer allowed to be "out there," discovering the world for themselves.

2.  Travel.  Before the gas rationing of WWII, my family drove from New England to Nebraska every summer to visit my grandparents. I stood the entire 1500 miles each way, poised on the floor of the back seat directly between my parents, so I could see where we were going. No car seats, no seat belts. Just the fun of seeing what was out there.

3. Travel.  It was a three or four day trip from Massachusetts to Nebraska at that time. We stayed overnight at "cabin camps." As the name implies they were little more than one-room shacks with a bed and an army cot (for me). If nature called, there was an outhouse out back.) As I recall, motels did not arrive until after WWII.)

4.  World War II. The war affected everyone's life. Nearly every house had a "star banner" hanging in the window. Blue for "currently serving," Silver for "missing," Gold for "killed in Action." Huge containers of chicken wire sat on every New England green; one for anything made of aluminum, particularly pots and pans; one for old tires. My mother did a weekly stint at the local emergency HQ; my father (who aged out of the draft by two months) stayed up all night once a week, doing his bit as an airplane-spotter. I recall learning all the plane silhouettes when he did. And I still remember sitting on the school's well-worn wooden stairs during Air Raid Drills. And once a week we brought in money to buy Savings Bonds to help support the war effort.  [Lots more, but time to stop.]

5.  Diesel Trains.  We moved from Massachusetts to Connecticut only months before the outbreak of WWII. Schools were strictly disciplined in those days, although we never considered it a hardship. That's just the way things were. But one day - I believe I was in sixth grade - we heard a loud noise we had never heard before. The entire class jumped up and ran to our second-floor windows. (I suspect the teacher did the same.) The noise came again - no one could figure it out. Order was restored and only later did we learn that what we'd heard was the whistle of the first diesel train to rumble through out small Connecticut town. [Time - c. spring 1944, as I recall.]

6.  Radio, Newspapers & Newsreels.  During the war and for many years after, these were our only source of information. Radio and Newspaper you can understand, but what was a Newsreel? Newsreels preceded the showing of every movie at the local theater. During WWII this meant photographers risking their lives to show us what was happening. (Something we take for granted these days.) And, believe me, I have not forgotten the impact of full movie-screen news, particularly the scenes of the liberation of the holocaust camps.

7.  Washing.  From Grade 3 through Grade 7 I remember helping my mother hang clothes from our second-story apartment in Connecticut. There was a pulley that ran from our back porch to a big tree twenty to thirty feet away. We'd peg each piece to the line, give it a pull, and peg the next. I'm not sure when, during that time, I was considered old enough to run the clothes through the "wringer" on our washer, but I still remember the thrill and tension of making sure my fingers didn't go through as well! When we moved to our very own house (I was in 8th grade), we had a standard clothesline in the backyard. [I'm drawing a blank on when the ancestors of our present-day washers & dryers first made their appearance.]

8.  Cars.  There was no such things as Automatic Shift, though, thank goodness, it arrived not long before I got my driver's license at age 19. And Turn Signals? No way. I still remember having to stick my arm straight out for a Left turn, bent at the elbow for a right turn. 

9.  Telephone.  I'm not sure what year it was, but we were living in our new house, so I was likely in 9th or 10th grade when, suddenly, we no longer picked up a phone and heard a live operator ask, "Number please?" We had to look up someone's number in something called a Phone Book and dial it ourselves, one number at a time on a wheel attached to the front of the phone? What was the world coming to? 

10.  Milk Delivery. I almost forgot - this was the era when milk was delivered directly to every house. Daily. When my husband and I moved into our waterfront home home in Branford, CT, in 1963, there was an entryway with a large aluminum-lined wooden chest (with lift-up lid) designed especially for milk delivery. 

Addendum to #10:  Oddly enough, grocery delivery is NOT new. My mother, the author, Wilma Pitchford Hays, had her groceries delivered, beginning way back in the late 1940s right up to the time we moved to the New Haven area in the summer of 1952.

PART II - Post 1950  will, hopefully, appear next week.


This week's shameless promo:

Although I wrote The Sometime Bride before Tarleton's Wife, TW was published first, in December 1999. A year or so earlier, my mother (the author) had handed me a newspaper article about electronic publishing, and we had wondered about this new method of publishing. So I suppose I was more willing to listen when I received a call out of the blue from a brand new e-publisher, Starlight Writer Publications, asking to include Tarleton's Wife in their opening line. (Evidently, the owner had been one of the judges in an RWA writing contest I'd entered.) A publisher was REQUESTING to publish my manuscript??? I wasn't about to say no!

And thus began the first of four e-incarnations and two paperback versions of Tarleton's Wife. Finally, after many years, I got my rights back, and it is now available on Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, and other e-vendors. One of the wonders of e-pub:  Nearly 25 years after its debut, Tarleton's Wife still makes the sales chart each and every month!

 On the night before the final battle in one of the most harrowing retreats in British Army history, a colonel wagers his only child in a game of cards. She is rescued by Major Nicholas Tarleton, who marries Julia Litchfield the next day, but only as he is dying. Julia, a hardy soul who has followed the drum all her life, takes over her husband's estate, becoming a heroine to Nicholas's tenant farmers, and is developing an interest in a new man when totally unexpected events plunge her into a conflict of love and honor that might have challenged Solomon himself.

Reviews Excerpts:

"A real historical novel, TARLETON'S WIFE places the author in the ranks with Victoria Holt and a handful of other writers of romantic fiction that I have read, reread, and loved." Patricia White, Word Museum

"TARLETON'S WIFE . . . is filled with action and emotion, and with well drawn, realistic characters headed by a strong, admirable and totally likable heroine. The author has extraordinary ability to bring her characters to life and to create a real world around them." Lily Martin, Romance Communication

"Ms Bancroft has a clear voice and the potential to be another Mary Jo Putney or Mary Balogh." Kathe Robin, Romantic Times

"This is a very well written piece, painted with rich history and wonderfully drawn characters. We will be seeing much more from this brilliant author." April Redmon, Under the Covers

~ * ~
For a link to Blair's website, click here. 


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft) 


1 comment:

  1. Please continue the Changes in my Lifetime series! It is SO important to get our memories down. Not only because our children and grandchildren need to know our stories, and one day might even appreciate them, but because I keep running into established narratives of my past that just aren't true. Maybe for some people, maybe for some locations, but certainly not universal. People need to know many sides to history, instead of building in their minds a stereotyped model and assuming it was the norm. Just one simple example: I keep reading that American kids in the 50's grew up scarred because of their terror of nuclear war and communism. Not me, not my friends, not anyone I knew. Yes, we did have air raid drills in school -- not "duck and cover" under our desks; we went into the hallway and leaned with our faces to our lockers and our coats over our heads. (Can you tell I did not grow up in Florida?) It was in no way scary -- just another one of many bizarre things school told us to do. We had fire drills, we had air raid drills, both equally meaningless to us. I don't even think the adults were worried (and my father had been part of the Manhattan Project!), but if they were, they certainly didn't talk about it in front of the kids.