My parents and their friends seemed to be the quintessential 60s suburban couples.
The husband worked and the wife stayed at home and was the “perfect housewife”.
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What I Recall of My Parents
My memories of my parents during this time period were that my Dad went to work every day and my Mom took care of the kids and the house.
I don’t recall our house ever being messy. June Simonson was the daughter of a farmer and she knew how to work. She cleaned, cooked, baked, washed, and ironed clothes (even my Dad’s t-shirts and handkerchiefs) until I got old enough to stand on a stool and iron the little white cotton squares. She gardened, shoveled snow, washed windows, and entertained friends.
All while raising us kids!
My Dad wore a suit and tie to work every day. He work at ITT in Des Plaines until they moved the company and I guess the decision that we weren’t moving with them was made as my Dad then went to work at Chicago Faucets in Des Plaines and worked there until he retired.
When he came home his job was to have his cocktail, read the newspaper, eat dinner, and watch some TV. Occasionally he was called on to dole out some discipline but for the most part, from my perspective, the kids were my Mom’s area of expertise.
Their Circles of Friends
From what I remember there were three circles of friends. Occasionally they overlapped, but they were the people my parents hung out with; consequently, as kids, we also hung out with their kids.
The Neighborhood Friends
When you live in a neighborhood with a gaggle of kids and all the Moms (mostly home all day), were bound to become each other’s support system.
For some time most families did not have a second car. My Mom was one of the first who got her own car. Before my Mom had her own car, my Dad would get a ride to work once a week so that my Mom would have a car.
Friday was when they all piled into the car and went to the grocery store, the beauty shop, and who knows what else. It was the ladies’ day out!
One of our neighbors had what I thought was the most elegant home because they had a formal living room with plastic on the furniture and the walkway of their white carpet. The Mom mostly wore dresses every day.
We weren’t that kind of family. My Mom didn’t dress like June Cleaver (however she did wear her girdle almost every day) and our house was a home to be lived in.
I remember in the summers I remember my Dad hanging out with the other neighborhood Dads after they had mowed the lawn, they would drink beer and fire up the BBQ.
I recall them sitting in their lawn chairs at the edge of the garage talking, laughing, and in my Dad’s case puffing on a lucky strike unfiltered cigarette. A habit he finally stopped sometime in the late 60s.
Even though we moved to a different house and went to different schools in the early 70s these neighbors remained friends to the end.
The Church Friends
We became members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church almost from its inception. We went to a little church that was about 8 miles from our house.
When Reverand Edward Paape became our Pastor he and his large family couldn’t fit in the parsonage (a home next to the church) a house was built for them right around the corner from our house.
Church became a huge part of our lives. My parent’s friends whom they met at church became lifelong friends.
The Work Friends
Many of my parent’s friends were the men and their wives who my Dad worked with. Many were also from Iron Mountain as ITT was a company my Dad worked for when we lived in the UP and like our family when that division of the company moved to Illinois, so did many of the employees.
For my Dad, his work was a huge part of who he was. My Dad’s family was very poor and his service in WWII offered him the chance to go to college. Being a college graduate and a successful businessman was very important to him.
Consequently fraternizing with his work cohorts and their wives was something that my parents did.
Again, some of these couples became my parent’s lifelong friends. Ann & Wally Ostrowski were one of those couples.
When Wally came to work with my Dad they discovered that they shared the same anniversary. The two couples celebrated that day (June 26th) together almost every year.
Ann & Wally’s only daughter Barb is like family to us!
They had Fun
They worked hard and they played hard! My parents had fun with all of their friends.
They would have parties, play cards, eat meals together, go out to dinner, and just have fun.
They were very social people.
I remember as a kid, sitting in the bathroom and watching my Mom get ready for a night out. Putting on her make-up, fixing her hair, and then getting dressed in her finery was something that I thought was so glamorous!
When my parents moved from Michigan, they moved away from their friends and most of their family.
I think my Mom in particular was homesick.
We made the drive from Illinois to Iron Mountain pretty often. My Mom would have the car all packed and ready on those Friday afternoons and when my Dad would come home from work we would make the 7-hour journey.
I remember staying at my Grandparent’s farm or at my Dad’s sister Darlene and my Uncle Bob’s house when we would head north.
It was always a quick trip coming home late on Sunday night.
Except in the summers when we would stay for longer stretches of time.
This is why I think they formed such close bonds with their friends because they became their chosen family.
Next week I’m going to chat about daily life for us kids!
I want to thank everyone who has shown so much support for this little series both here on the blog and on social media.
I’m loving all of your comments and sharing of your stories.
If nothing else, I hope this gives others inspiration to write down their recollections and reflections.
Peace and Love,
60s Era Vibes
#1 – The Introduction
#3 – A Lonely Kid
#5 – The Tornado