This one is for my Grandkids!! It is as nostalgic as it gets and will tell you something about what life was like when I was a girl!!! In the 1950′s small towns were vastly different from what you see now. These tiny towns had main streets that were lined on both sides with business enterprises; most of the people who lived in those towns did all their shopping on their own Main Streets…they could buy everything they needed in their small town. Not so any more. Anyone who drives on the main streets of today’s small towns notices this: the buildings are empty and the street is quiet. Few cars are parked on Main Street. Maybe there is one grocery store, a post office, a local cafe/bar where the locals can gather but hardware stores, implement or automobile dealers, clothing and shoe stores, multiple grocery stores and cafes, movie theaters, shoe repair shops, drugstores, homegrown poultry and egg stores, local creameries….they are all gone now. I have wonderful memories of my own small town when I was growing up. On Friday nights the stores stayed open til 10 p.m. and everyone came to town. The streets were so crowded with parked cars that you had to drive downtown early to get a parking place. Everyone shopped on Friday nights; farm families came to town together. The kids did not have their own cars and neither did the town kids who were always on foot. The adults sat in the cars and watched the parade of "walkers" or stood on the sidewalk or sat on a fender and talked to their neighbors and friends. The kids strolled up and down Main Street with their own friends or held hands with that special girlfrend or boyfriend. Everyone knew who "was going with" whom in those days. The evidence was right in front of you. All you had to do was be on Main Street on Friday nights. Many solid marriages were eventually made from those Friday night strolls. The Boy Scouts’ popcorn stand emanated the most delicious odors of hot popcorn and melted butter and few could resist the call of the popcorn stand. The Boy Scouts raked in nice profits on Friday nights. All the cafes were open too. They served ice cream treats, hamburgers, malts, homemade french fries and caramel rolls served hot and sticky, oozing with caramel sauce. I can smell them now!!! One really great memory that will always remain with me is the Friday night some friends and I were hungry for watermelon. We went in to one of the 6 grocery stores to buy melon and the gracious clerk sliced it for us. Then we took it outside and sat on the sidewalk curb eating our watermelon and spitting seeds while adults walked by us, tsk-tsking and having thoughts about how teenagers were going to Hell in a Handbasket. If that didn’t fill us up, we could always go back into Hanson’s Grocery and get big double scoops of Knerr ice cream in cones….the ice cream was made at the Knerr Dairy in Fargo; these huge cones set us back one nickel each. The movie theater was packed on Friday nights because Westerns always played on Fridays. Little kids sat down in front, teenagers were in the middle and adults were in the back. Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Gabby Hayes or Gene Autry and Pat Buttram on his little donkey entertained the crowds and when the Good Guys finally beat the Bad Guys, the little kids screamed and cheered and the Hero kissed the girl, once… and chastely, and the lights came on and everyone trooped out into the mellow evening air outside the theater. If you didn’t like Westerns, you could wait til Sunday or Monday and see the usual romantic Musical starring Betty Grable, June Haver, Jane Powell or Kathryn Grayson and their unbelievably handsome leading men like Howard Keel or Van Johnson….and Esther Williams!!!! Omigosh! She was so beautiful as she swam underwater in her flowered swimming caps gracefully turning somersaults and smiling without smearing her makeup. Later in the week, we nearly drowned ourselves at the local swimming hole trying to imitate Esther but we did not have flowered swimming caps and nobody could see our lovely smiles underwater—it was too muddy and roiled up where we swam. We got lots of "nosefuls" trying but had fun anyway and went home sunburned and tired out….especially from picking the bloodsuckers off our extremities. At about ten o’clock on Friday nights, the stores closed and everyone got in their cars to head home. The teenage kids gathered at the favorite hangout for more ice cream, hamburgers, malts and french fries til Ben or Leon began to turn their lights off too and then we had to walk home, accompanied by friends or sometimes…if we got lucky…with a new or steady boyfriend holding our hand. The stars were out, the night air was sweet and warm, the bugs were biting but it was wonderful….almost too wonderful to bear. We could always look forward to the next Friday night downtown, or if we got really lucky, we might catch a ride to a nearby small town on Wednesday night and go to "Free Show" or check out the boys in that small town about 9 miles away from ours.
Life was good!