The 1950’s Woman ©

A Story by Bobbi Rankin

In the 1950’s, it was not normal to have a mom who worked. The norm was a mom who stayed home and did ALL the housework, shopping (if she drove), cooking and caring for the children. However, not my mom, she went to work. By the time I started school, off she would go to her job and me being the youngest, after school I would go to my friends house, where there was a stay-at-home mom waiting to feed us cookies and milk. After all it was the 50’s.

You do remember those days of “Father Knows Best” and “Leave It to Beaver”?

Do you remember how the mom would have the dinner ready and waiting for dad to come home from work and all the family would sit down together while mom served them their meals?

You remember watching those shows and feeling comfy knowing they were familiar scenes of your daily life. I remember them too but my home life was different. My dad went off to work every day too, but he was the one who sat with me to watch those classic shows of our black and white TV.

There were many times my dad would hop in the car to go do the grocery shopping, by himself. He would also help with the cooking and cleaning. We had hardwood floors that needed waxing twice a year. Dad would always help my mom do that tedious job.

You may wonder why my mom would leave her family to fend for themselves while she was fulfulling her own wants and desires (how scandalous, for sure). She did it not only for her own needs, but also for our family. She worked for the extra income. She worked for the desire to be a more satisfied woman.

My mom grew up in Montana and eventually became a teacher in a one-room school. Her students were mostly Native Americans. Occasionally she traveled back and forth alone on the train from Montana to San Francisco to visit her sister. My mom married in her late 20’s, also not a normal thing for those days. She was an independent woman, as we say today and woman in her own right. A woman who did things out of the norm.

There were times it bothered me to see my mom go off to work in her fashionable black dress, pearls and black heels. That meant she would not be waiting for me after school. I would not find her in a neatly pressed apron with warm, fresh from the oven, cookies and milk. It was, at times, not what I wanted. 

After 3rd grade I became a “latch key kid”. Rarely did I let that dampen my day. What came of those carefree days is that I pretty much raised myself but always knew I was growing up in a loving and caring environment. 

Being “neglected” is not in my vocabulary nor is it in my personality. I was always proud of my mom, she was always a lady, showed her love for our family and me and she was independent. I guess I did well with that 50”s mom of mine. I think some of her independence rubbed off on me. At least I hope it did.

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12 Responses to The 1950’s Woman ©

  1. Malati Marlene Shinazy

    Bobbi – Your mom choosing not to be June Cleaver reminded me of a favorite Virginia Woolf line, “Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.” — mms

  2. We post-Women’s Liberation babes forget that there were independent women before us. This is the story of one of the vanguard. I applaud her.

    ~ shinazy

  3. Your story reminded me of my mom walking to the stores pushing/pulling her shopping cart. I don’t think they make those unique items anymore.
    I loved coming home to freshly made soft jello or something sitting on my bed that she had bought while shopping downtown SF Emporium basement. Later she and my dad took the streetcar to work downtown and my sister and I drove the family car to Presentation, which was 3 buses away from home. Enjoy the memories.

    • Marge, how the heck are you…….I miss you. I love all these old memories and storytelling.. So glad your on board. Hope you’ve been able to check out my other stories and the other writers stories too.

  4. This is a woman who knew what she needed to do, within the choices that were reasonable available, to seek MEANING!!! I posted earlier on another essay that sex and death may be the only two things that matter – that’s true, unless you can find meaning teaching Native American children that all the white people gave up on, except to bring them to Jesus.

  5. I admire the respect and appreciation you had and still have for your mother. Your independent, self-reliant, competent nature and self-assuredness serves you well. June Cleaver may not have helped you manifest these qualities near as well 🙂

  6. Absolutely enjoyed every word describing the familiar “50’s” life 🙂