In the dustbin of our cultural history

When my parents had our house built in 1957-58, the upstairs hallway had one of those recessed phone-and-phonebook niches in one wall. A few years later, the city’s phone book got too fat to fit in it. Opposite that niche was a narrow, waist-high, built-in cubby made for a pair of folding card tables. My folks had been bridge players before I Love Lucy killed the bridge club.

The house also had a swimming pool in the basement (a terrible idea). The living room had floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a firewood pass-through (from the garage) next to the fireplace. Except for the basement, all the walls and ceilings were coated with swirled sand finish plaster. You could skin an elbow just by brushing against a wall.

Though my high school had the odd sex role stuff I mentioned before, our 8th grade shop and home-ec classes were required for boys and girls. I learned to cook and sew, along with the girls, and we all learned how to drill, saw, drive nails, and work leather.

WHAT??? A pool in the basement??? Was it common for your region? What size was it?

Here is a New York Times article (paywall warning) about the first integrated prom at Wilcox County High School in Abbeville, Georgia. Prior to that, there were separate proms for the white kids and the black kids. The article is from 2013. So until eight years ago, the kids in this town still had segregated proms. (There may still be segregated proms out there somewhere.)

When my eighty-eight year old mother was in high school the proms were segregated. Also the sports teams. The black athletes couldn’t even by called by the school nicknames, the Trojans, they were called the Ramblers.

Our son goes to school in Ithaca; I wonder if swimming nekkid in the gorges is still a thing. Since he’s never been on campus during the summer, he may wonder about this “warm weather” you speak of.

The season for taking a dip outside during the school year was brief, basically September. In October it would begin Ithacating (our name for the thin mixture of frozen rain and slush that would fall throughout the autumn).

I have to ask. How did I Love Lucy kill the bridge club?

Not ILL per se, but “must see” TV is what I think he means. People watched TV instead of playing games.

My parents had a pinochle club however, with the other Scout parents, met once a month rotating homes, basically a chance to dish dirt and get snockered.

Googling, though, in its original run, I Love Lucy ran at 9pm on Mondays. Are we to understand that people played bridge on Monday evenings but chose instead to stay home and watch the show?

I dont know what is in Asknotts head about this, but yes, TV killed socializing. Places like Elks, Moose, Eagles, oddfellows etc started their decline about then too.

People stayed in and watched TV instead of socializing on weekdays. Only weekends were social days.

I watched it happen.


“And then all of a sudden I remember becoming suddenly aware of how different everything had become. The kids were no longer playing Monopoly or Clue or the other games we used to play together. It was because we had a television set which had been turned on for a football game. All of that socializing that had gone on previously had ended. Now everyone was sitting in front of the television set, on a holiday, at a family party!”[(4)]…

A number of research studies back this woman’s claim. One survey found that 78 percent of respondents indicated no conversation taking place during viewing except at specified times such as households. Thirty-six percent of the respondents in another study indicated that the television was the only family activity they participated in during a week![(5)]… Television has clearly led to a decline in communication and interaction in the family.

My parents were avid bridge players when I was a kid (1970s / 1980s), and their primary social circle was their bridge club. But, to your point, their bridge club always played on Friday or Saturday evenings.

Yeah, my Dad was a Bridge Master, and went to LV each year, and usually got enuf prize $$ to pay his way. Never won big, however.

In Australia, Friday nights were killed by Friday night shopping.

We used to have restricted shop opening hours. Closing at something like 5, 6 ? (It was a long time ago). Anyway, when they extended shopping hours to 9pm Friday, it killed what was left of “going out on a Friday night”. I talked with a guy who used to run entertainment, and it was something like 4 weeks, and his business was dead.

This. I grew up in three different houses in the midwest US. Each one had:

-a “breakfast area,” where we ate routine casual meals with family (not just breakfast, despite the name).

  • a “dining room,” where we served meals when we had too many guests to accommodate in the breakfast area. This room had a large, nice table, with nice chairs and a tablecloth, and there was a nice set of plates, glassware and silverware to be used at this table.

  • a “family room,” with a TV and other furniture. This is where our family spent time relaxing together, watching TV or reading.

  • a “living room,” where we would spend time with nicely dressed guests who had come by for a formal dinner party.

The living room and dining room were connected. We had a housecat that liked to routinely patrol a route through the living room and dining room, so when they were not in use (this was most of the time), the bottom two feet of each doorway were blocked by a sheet of plywood to keep the cat out. Mom liked having the carpet stay nicely vacuumed, and this kept the cat from fucking up the lay of the shag with pawprints (and occasionally peeing where he shouldn’t have).

Basically the living room and dining room in my parents houses were rooms that saw very, very rare use, kind of a waste of space. My sister’s current house has these same rooms, but they see more use; it’s common there to go sit in the living room as a quieter space, away from the TV in the family room - and the dining room table provides a useful flat working space for projects (it’s also the room where their PC sits). My own house has a “great room” kind of layout. There is a nice large dining table in one area, but it’s only used on those rare occasions when we have guests for dinner; when it’s just me and my wife eating, we sit on the floor in front of our coffee table, leaning back against the couch. Our house doesn’t have a separate “living room” and “family room”

Actually, it seems like there was a heat wave in September last year. Some students were whining about the lack of AC in the dorms.

This reminds me of something that has become less common in college dorms, if it exists at all. When I was in college (early to mid eighties) there was one common shower area in the bathrooms. There were individual stalls in all the dorms where our kids stayed; this was also true of all the colleges we visited.

My impression is that college dorms have gotten less spartan. The replacement of communal showers by separate individual stalls, or even semi-private bathrooms shared by only two rooms is one example.

Yeah, in my freshman dorm, there was one shower area per hallway (~55 people), with three showerheads. Four years later, I was in the same building as a grad student, and there were plastic curtains dividing the shower into three private-ish areas, which was a bit of an improvement.

One friend of mine wanted to take metal shop as her elective instead of art or something more conventionally feminine. Nobody kept her from doing it, but the teacher was skeptical. He ended up admitting that she was the best student he had that year. (Our high school was very college prep-oriented, and often the students who weren’t seen as being “college material” were shunted into the Industrial Arts classes. Some of them are probably doing better financially that some of the folks who went to college!) I was the Class of '86.

The etiquette advisors until about the 1950’s held that 1) the eldest unmarried daughter of a family was called Miss Smith until she took her husband’s name by marriage at which time Daughter #2 became Miss Smith. Until then younger girls were Miss Jenny, Miss Carol etc 2) A married woman was Mrs John Smith until her husband died. Then she gets her forename back and becomes Mrs Susan Smith or if addressing a letter, Mrs S Smith.