Remembering Childhood Television Series

It seems unbelievable to today’s generation but we didn’t have a television set when I was a youngster. I was in eighth grade when we acquired our first television. Here’s Mom’s story about that: The Christmas of Our First TV. Recently, my sister reminded us of the series we used to watch. There was Sea Hunt with Jeff Bridges, The Rebel (Johnny Yuma), Rifleman with Chuck Conners, Sky King, Maverick, and Circus Boy.

Sky King cast members (McCann-Erickson (ad agency) on behalf of the program’s sponsor, Nabisco., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

If you grew up in that time, you may remember these or have other favorites. These shows were popular in the 1950s and 1960s and were known for their wholesome family values, Western themes, and action-packed adventures. They often portrayed the American West as a place of heroism and adventure, with strong, dependable, and heroic lead characters. It’s considered a Golden Age of Television.

“Sky King” was an adventure series that followed the adventures of a former military pilot who became a rancher and used his aircraft to fight crime and injustice. The show was filled with action and kept us captivated with storylines that often featured the hero using his wits and flying skills to save the day.

“The Rifleman” was a western series that starred Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, a rancher and former Confederate soldier who uses his sharpshooting skills to defend his family and the people of his town. The show was known for its well-written scripts, character development, and exciting action sequences.

People who are nostalgic for these shows often remember them fondly for their simple, unassuming storylines and the sense of innocence and optimism that was reflected in the characters and settings. For many, these shows represent a simpler time in their lives, before the world became more complex and challenging.

Maverick starring James Garner (public domain picture from Wikipedia)

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in these classic shows, creating a new generation of fans who are discovering them for the first time. Many of these shows are now available on streaming platforms and DVDs, allowing people to relive their childhood memories or experience the magic for the first time.

Overall, the nostalgia for 1950s television series like Sky King and The Rifleman is a testament to the timeless appeal of these classic shows and their ability to evoke a sense of innocence, adventure, and hope that still resonates with people today.

I’d love to hear what shows you remember. Please share those memories in the comments section.

The Jumper Chair

My older brother, just a toddler, had a jumper chair back in 1946. We have the picture of him looking quite happy being able to bounce up-and-down and kick his feet in this device. He is outside in the yard and his eyes are fixed upon either mom or dad. It’s likely that one is trying to hold his attention while the other parent takes the picture.

Owen Martin in his jumper chair in 1946

It must be summer as he is dressed in lightweight clothing but on his feet are the sturdy baby shoes of the era. Mom had labeled the photo “1946 – Owen in his jumper chair.” Since he was born in February 1946, he would be about 6-months-old in August of that year. Does this look like a 6-month-old or would it be from the next year? In June 1947, he would be 16-months-old.

I was curious about the chair and found an advertisement for it in a 1946 newspaper.

New, Springy Teeterbabe

The modern jumper chair for any baby 3 months and up. Ideal for home, auto or anywhere, so mother can be relieved. Positively safe. Convenient foot rest and play beads.

Baby jumper chair - Teeterbabe 1946Baby jumper chair – Teeterbabe 1946 Thu, Sep 19, 1946 – Page 26 · Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) ·

This looks identical to the chair that Owen is sitting in. Just imagine putting this in your auto today to take your toddler for a ride. “Positively safe,” the ad says, but we know better now.

I found a later advertisement for it and it touted the benefits of the child getting natural exercise and not bothered by constipation. Baby will be happy and contented and can be placed in the yard to get sunshine.

Teeterbabe jumper seatTeeterbabe jumper seat Thu, Jan 22, 1948 – 5 · The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida) ·

I’m featuring my brother’s picture today as part of the Sepia Saturday blog challenge. The inspiration photo showed a man jumping at the beach. That led me to my brother in his jumper chair.

Exercising On The Beach (1935) The National Media Museum : Sepia Saturday 542, 17 October 2020

Poor Man’s Ham Salad

Mom used to make ham salad for a sandwich spread back in the 1960s. It’s what they call Poor Man’s Ham Salad because it used a chunk of bologna, not ham, that was ground up for the spread. We called it baloney, and looked forward to those tasty sandwiches in our school lunch boxes. It was much cheaper, but tasted exactly like ham spread.

Old-fashioned meat grinder (from pixabay)
  • Here’s the recipe:
  • an unsliced roll of Bologna
  • Miracle Whip (or salad dressing of your choice
  • Sweet Gherkins (or pickle relish)

The amount of each isn’t crucial. You needed a meat grinder. Ours fastened onto the kitchen counter. Grind up the hunk of Bologna in the meat grinder and the sweet pickles too. Mix enough salad dressing in to make it spread easily on the sandwiches. Done!

We never put boiled eggs in it but other people did. The boiled eggs were used another day for egg salad sandwiches. Our bread back then was often Rainbow brand or Sunbeam.

A Lunchbox Like Dad Had

Black lunch box on Etsy (seller: LeepsAntiques)

Fixing the School Lunches

With six children, packing the lunch boxes on a school day took teamwork. Someone would get the cookies and wrap them for each box. Another child would get the fruit (a banana, an apple, or some raisins). Someone else assembled the sandwiches, then cut them in half.

I was good at wrapping the sandwiches with the wax paper. Mom had taught me how to make the double fold where the edges came together, just like the butcher would wrap meat at the supermarket. Then I’d make a triangle at each end and fold that to the back.

We had those metal lunch boxes with colorful designs of our favorite television shows. I browsed around on Etsy which is a good place to find vintage items. Wow, some of these are for sale for over $100. I should have saved mine.

Vintage Lunch Boxes on Etsy

Did you have a rectangular metal lunch box like these?

5 Free & Fun Things for Kids to Do

Anyone who grew up in the 1950s will remember these summertime activities. There were no excursions to theme parks or money spent on activities. We kept ourselves occupied by playing in the yard or neighborhood.

  1. Catching lightning bugs – maybe you call them fireflies. Once it was dusk, you ran about the yard capturing these with your hands. Putting the captives in a jar turned it into your very own blinking lantern. I think we poked holes in the jar lid for them to breathe.Fireflies, Stars Digital Paper, Stripes, Stars, Fish
  2. Playing outdoor games – There were all sorts of games you could play with your siblings like “Mother May I?” or “Simon Says” or games that involved running like Tag or Hide-And-Seek. After we wore ourselves out with these games, we would relax in the shade for a while.
  3. Playing with the hose – If you had a lawn sprinkler, it was fun to run through on a hot summer day. It wasn’t necessary though, you could just put your finger over the end of the garden hose and spray the other kids. You didn’t have to go anywhere and you didn’t even need a swimsuit. Outdoors, Nature, People, Summer, Kids, Happy, Water
  4. Stretching out on the grass and watching the clouds – We looked for special shapes in the cloud formations and tried to imagine they were animals or people’s faces. Kansas has marvelous skyscapes with thunderheads that shifted and reformed as we watched.

    cloud photo, Kansas

    Cloud photo by Virginia Allain

  5. Pretending – After watching National Velvet on television, we spent hours pretending to ride our imaginary horses over jumps that we placed around the yard. Other times, we created a playhouse by stamping down the weeds in an overgrown area to form rooms. Of course, we could always resort to making mud pies and decorate them with the pokeberries that grew wild. The big leaves made great plates for our concoctions. (Don’t worry, we knew not to eat those.)


Vintage Paper Dolls

My mother was born in 1924, so she was probably a little old to be playing with paper dolls at the time that these were printed in the Sunday funnies. Boots and Her Buddies was a popular comic strip from that time. It ran in U.S. papers from 1924 to 1968 according to the Wikipedia article on it.

Someone had the bright idea to print these cut-outs of Boots to entertain the children. The character had quite a glamorous wardrobe. It was fun browsing the old newspapers for genealogy and discovering these.

BootsBoots Sun, Aug 8, 1943 – Page 22 · Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Arizona) ·

Boots - paperdollBoots – paperdoll Sun, Mar 3, 1940 – 30 · The Monitor (McAllen, Texas) ·

In the 1940s, Gail McGhee was attending high school and after graduation, working at Boeing Aircraft during World War II. Below, you see her with a friend, probably someone she worked with or maybe a friend from the boarding house where girls lived while doing war work.

I think Mom looks pretty spiffy in her suit. She’s the one with the dark hair.

Gail McGhee and friend in Wichita KS

Gail McGhee and a friend in Wichita, Kansas.

I think Mom would have made quite a cute paper doll herself. You can read more about her 1940’s years in these posts:

Some Background on This Blog

My mother, Gail Lee Martin, was 87 when we lost her. I started this blog to share my memories of her and now, over 500 posts later, I’m still finding things to write about her life, my childhood, and a general nostalgia for things of the past.

I self-published her memoir of growing up in the 1930s and she was so proud of her book and the prize that it won from the Kansas Authors Club. Her book is My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s Kansas. Now that award is named after her.

Someday, I hope to put together some of these memories in a follow-up book and call it Gail, All Grown-Up.  

Z is for Zigzag

Remember rickrack? If that term doesn’t resonate with you, think back to the 1950s and 1960s when you saw zigzag decorative touches on little girl’s dresses.

Sometimes the rickrack was there just to pretty it up. It could also serve to hide the line where the hem was let down on a too-short dress. Often a dress was made to grow-into with an extra-wide hem that later extended as the child grew.

Rickrack appeared as an accent too for something like an apron. In the picture below, there’s rickrack on the pocket of the red apron and along the edge of the feed sack fabric apron.

aprons- rickrack pixabay

I did some quick research and found that it was used even back in the 1860s where it was called waved crocket braid. It fell out of favor for a time in the 1890s through 1910 as other types of braided accents were used.

Wikipedia says, “In America in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, rickrack was used to decorate feed sack dresses. These dresses were worn as everyday attire, and were constructed from the brightly colored and patterned fabric bags that animal feed, flour, and other goods were shipped in.”



Shelling Peas & Snapping Beans

peas pixabay

Perfect for a recipe of new peas and baby potatoes

Little things trigger your memories. Someone passed around a meme titled “Snapchat – the Old-Fashioned Way.” The meme’s picture showed a grandmother on a porch swing with a lap full of string beans. She was snapping the beans into the right size for cooking.

Next to her on the swing sat a grandchild who was also snapping beans. Several more children sat on the nearby steps as they listened to their grandmother tell a story. Their hands were busily snipping the ends off the beans and breaking the green beans into short pieces.

My aunt Cj Garriott commented, “Oh, this brings back great memories! Mother and I also hulled peas, sitting on the back steps. Occasionally, one or more would pop out on the sidewalk. Our dog Tippy would snap them up! Then one day mother caught him getting some off the vine. Daddy had to put a fence around the peas.”

string beans-pixabay

We didn’t need a knife if the bean were fresh and crisp. We also didn’t make the pieces this short.

Putting all hands to work was necessary if the family grew a large garden. Preparing enough beans for canning was quite a bit of hand labor. Over the winter months, we were glad to have Mason jars filled with vegetables for the eight hungry people around our big oak table.

Faultless Starch

starch adstarch ad Fri, Sep 30, 1898 – 7 · The Lyon County News and The Emporia Times (Emporia, Kansas) ·
I’m not even sure where I spotted this little booklet for Faultless Starch, but I couldn’t resist buying it and bring it home.  You can tell that I’m a true daughter of Gail Lee Martin who had a penchant for accumulating vintage pieces like this.

vintage box starch

I think our interest in history and in the way that people lived in earlier generations is shared by many of my sisters too. This has Kansas City on the cover, so likely I discovered it at a yard sale on one of my visits back home.

I wondered if the little booklet might have been included in a box of starch back in the early 1900s or maybe it was a premium that you sent in a box top and a dime to get. I found an 1899 advertisement in the Emporia Democrat telling that the small book was free from the merchant upon request.

Faultless Starch - 10 cents, book - free.Faultless Starch – 10 cents, book – free. Fri, Jul 28, 1899 – 2 · The Emporia Democrat (Emporia, Kansas) ·

It includes some advertising text and then turns to some stories to amuse the kids.

No Sticking Irons

“Housewives who use Faultless Starch are never troubled with irons sticking and burning or scorching their clothes or linens.

It is not necessary to use any preventive for sticky irons with Faultless. It is already in the starch — so is everything else that is necessary to make it a first-class starch.

Try it just once. Learn what housewives in millions of homes have learned in the last 35 years — that it is a “Faultless” Starch.”

Faultless Starch Company, Kansas City

001 - Copy (5)

The booklet includes a poem, some riddles (called conundrums), and some games.

002 - Copy (3)

004 - Copy (2)

005 - Copy (3)

006 - Copy

faultless starch booklet

The list of state flowers gives us a hint for the date of this booklet. Arizona is not listed and it became a state in 1912. I researched the company history and found this:


I’m not much for ironing and haven’t used starch for years but couldn’t resist checking to see if Faultless Starch was still around. It is, but in a spray can now! Our grandmothers would have loved that convenience.

A Is For Ads

For the month of April, I’ll be featuring tidbits about my mother’s life. The inspiration will be ephemera (notes, booklets, bits of paper from her files) and newspaper advertisements and clippings. I’ll put my subscription to to work for me triggering topics from A to Z.

 bread graphic from Yeast Foam ad 1923bread graphic from Yeast Foam ad 1923 Thu, Jun 21, 1923 – 6 · The Madison News (Madison, Kansas) ·

My mother, Gail Lee Martin, was born in 1924. I’m sure at that time, her mother was baking bread for the family. They lived in rather remote areas of the Flint Hills in Central Kansas where one couldn’t dash off to the store for a package of store-bought bread.

The woman in this advertisement even looks like my grandmother did in her early years. Below is a picture from our family album of Gail’s mother, Ruth McGhee, feeding the chickens.

Ruth feeding chickens

Ruth Vining McGhee with the family chickens in the early 1900s. This is before the Rhode Island reds.

Mom talked about the family trips to town for supplies and selecting bags of chicken feed and bags of flour. They looked for colorful print on the cotton feed sacks. Her mother then used that fabric to make clothing for the family once the sacks were empty.

Singer sewing machine roxio

The Rest of the April 2020

A to Z Blog Posts

Vintage Bicycling

Each week I get ideas from a blog called Sepia Saturday. This week, their inspiration photo shows three ladies with their bicycles. You can see that photo at the end of today’s blog.

Immediately, I thought of my grandmother on her brother’s motorcycle around 1914. It’s such a unique photo that I’m sure I’ve shared it here before. My photos are from Tyro, Kansas.

Ruth Vining on Albert's motorcycle_edited

Ruth Vining on the Flander’s 4 motorcycle (photo from the Gail Lee Martin collection.

Closer to the example photo is one that I have with my grandfather and two other young men. It was merely labeled Albert Vining. I think the middle fellow is his future brothers-in-law, Clarence McGhee who married Ruth Vining. The fellow on the right is likely Jesse McGhee, the brother of Clarence McGhee.

albert and bicycle

The McGhee family and the Vining family lived across the street from each other. I don’t recognize the house.

Here’s the Sepia Saturday site where you can see what other bloggers shared.