Genny Kieley Books

Green Stamps to Hot Pants

A Nostalgic Journey
Books by Twin Cities Author
Genny Zak Kieley
about the decades that followed World War II

Highlights from Genny’s book
Green Stamps to Hot Pants: Growing Up in the 50s and 60s

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I  have fond memories of my childhood years. But it also makes me a little sad when I think back because times have changed so much and so quickly. Although I am not that old it seems like I grew up a hundred years ago. It’s been said that people waste time dreaming about yesterday; but there is a piece of me that remains back there.

I remember the day we moved into our house in Northeast Minneapolis and how it seemed so strange to me, so unknown; an old house that smelled of wooden floors and linoleum. There were freshly planted little trees and railroad tracks in the field across the street. We were near the Mississippi River, with a park that had swings, a slide, monkey-bars and a wading pool. My brother and I hid in the coal bin and built forts across the street. My mother cooked great meals of fried chicken or Sunday roast beef with mashed potatoes and white cream gravy, peas and carrots and her special home made bread that she baked fresh each week.

My brother and I sat cross-legged and wide-eyed on the living room floor watching the cowboy shows on Saturday mornings.  The neighborhood was alive with a pulse all its own. We got to know the kids on our block; the Anderson, Rosti and Dalecki girls with their swing set in the backyard. I envied them. Mothers screamed out their front door for their kids to come in for supper. We sat down together to eat and said Grace. After supper we ran and played Red Light, Green Light, Statue, King of the Mountain, catch and bounce the ball, sang songs and played lots of make believe. We’d leave our windows and doors wide open during summer nights so we’d get the cool breezes going through. No one had air-conditioning in those days.
We sometimes lay down on the grass to look at the stars. We’d see who could find the big and little dippers, and of course we’d wish on a star. The seasons came and went. In the summer we played marbles, jump rope, and practiced tricks with  our yo-yos. In the winter we made snow angels and skated at the park. I remember catching raindrops in my mouth and eating snow and icicles. We had time to dream and to be together. September brought school and a new excitement. The thrill of brand-new clothes and school supplies; how great was that! We piled up leaves and dove into them and enjoyed the paper s ales and ice cream socials. We went through good times and bad. Went through friendships new and old, first loves, first heartbreaks, sock hops and doo-wop music. We danced our hearts out, traded clothes and our 45s. I’ll always remember that time.

Like many other baby boomers I have a deep sentimental yearning to reclaim the memory of days long past. We were the “Baby Boom Generation” born after the soldiers had come home from World War II, 1946 to 1962. No matter how ridiculous or dowdy we looked back then, it was the way we were. As teenagers we used words like “far out” and “cool” and “groovy,” and some of us became rebels, protesting the Viet Nam War, cultivating Flower Power, and adopting the Hippie lifestyle. The music was deep, powerful and also a little crazy.  But it was also a time of innocence; this is a memoir of the world as I remember it in the 1950s and 60s.

Prom was a Special Night

Prom was the most glamorous event of the year. It was a time when matching sweaters, skirts and kneehighs were shed and teenagers tried to be sophisticated adults. Boys dressed in white dinner jackets and boutonničres and girls wore strapless dresses made with floaty skirts of satin, taffeta or voile. It was customary for the boy to present his date with a corsage when he arrived at her house. This custom had a great deal of importance. It was all about prestige and proof of affection. The best
flowers were roses and orchids. The flowers were supposed to coordinate with the girl’s dress color, but sometimes didn’t.

The dance floor was filled with the scent of English Leather, Brut and Canoe, the most popular colognes for guys at the time. For girls it was Tabu, Tigress, Yardley or Bonne Bell cologne. Pearls or rhinestone necklaces, bracelets and earrings were favorites among girls for a formal evening and often a girl’s heels were dyed to match her dress. Good dancers were envied.


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