Growing up in the 1950s to early 1960s was a positive experience here and around the nation. This took place after WWII and things were going forward in all aspects of life. It’s still, though, unlike today with things having been much simpler.
Sticking to Bristol, the parks, as they are today, were used for recreation and entertainment. During summers, besides swimming and crafts, there was a basketball court at Page Park that drew some of the state’s best players. One such standout was Eddie Griffin from Hartford Public, and these games drew the best players and wanna-bes like me to see.
The Bristol American Legion baseball team had come into its own, and started winning state titles at a good clip. If you were a player for Bristol, you were an idol to the younger kids. The same held true for the Bristol High athletes, the football, basketball and baseball players.
As far as driving a car at 16 years of age, it was generally the family’s one vehicle for a date Saturday night. It was walking to and fro or getting a ride from a friend’s family to a Boys Club dance. Many moms didn’t have to work and with one car, it was taking the bus to downtown Bristol with her to shop for clothes. We had the stores, for sure. No super malls.
One modern aspect of the shopping world was the new Bristol Plaza, an update to the form of shopping downtown. The plaza stores that could keep you shopping for hours before you took a bus back home.
St. Anthony’s High School was abuzz in being the lone Catholic secondary learning center in town. Are you one of the St. Anthony’s “boys” or “girls?”
Pick-up athletic games such as football, basketball and baseball were taken up at various areas of the city, except less in the northeast section of the city that was starting to grow itself. That would change in time, though.
Ice skating at Page Park. The fire pit there was always burning, and kids would be around it to warm up, before returning to the ice. There were the wanna-be skaters, girl chasers and the boy packs of being boys and hanging out together.
Bowling was a key sport, and that included the now dwindling duckpin style. DiPietro’s, for example, entertained it as an activity, and they would have leagues for all ages, both men and women. We also had some of the state’s best rollers, as well as those known on the national level. If you posted an average of 100-plus as a kid, you were doing well.
Movie theaters and drive-ins. The latest movie was something to look forward to going to, it didn’t matter if in or outdoors. The beauty of the outdoor movie was the feeling of being alone with your partner, although friends might stop by when recognizing your car. As a guy, you always hoped your girl wasn’t really into the movie. But, darn that Elvis Presley who left me frustrated many an evening.
Telephones. Only one was usually in your home, and sometimes you would have to wait to use it to call your girlfriend. Good luck if you had a large family, and no one else was in the kitchen when you used it. “Bobby, who are you talking with?” - “Nobody special, Mom!”
Or, “Mom, tell Bobby to hurry up and get off the phone,” shouts older sibling, Billy, waiting to use the device.
Contact Bob Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 860-583-5132.