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ArlingtonOpinion‘Old School’ column: Small-town Saturdays

‘Old School’ column: Small-town Saturdays

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Saturdays were busy for kids in the 1950s, but different kinds of busy, depending upon your age.

As a grade-schooler, Saturday almost always involved an afternoon movie. First I’d get up, make my bed and do whatever jobs Mom expected of me. My hard-working mother didn’t require much help, so I got off light.

When I’d finished my chores, I’d call a friend to see the latest movie at the New Moon or Pantheon. (See my column from May 21.)

My frequent viewing companion, Susie, and I would see any Disney picture we could find, or a cowboy movie or – our least favorite – a war movie. Our moms had the transportation all worked out. Usually one mom would take us and the other would pick us up.


In my teens, Saturday played a huge role in my social life. (Didn’t everything back then?) I’d meet friends downtown for shopping, and if Mom was too busy to take me, I’d ride the bus for 15 cents. Gimble Bond or Strashun Hasty were the two best department stores, so we’d usually go to them. Strashun’s sold Corot jewelry (my favorite), purses and scarves on the main floor and refrigerators and stoves on the upper floors.

I preferred shopping at Gimble’s where I bought my mom Coty perfume for Mother’s Day and Christmas almost every year. She favored Aphrodite but, sometimes, I’d buy Straw Hat or Tigress for variety.

My friends and I shopped at Kresge’s Dime Store for our cosmetics, where our babysitting money went farther. They sold Blue Waltz perfume, Hazel Bishop lipsticks and Maybelline make-up. We bought mascara, too, to use after curling our lashes with the 98-cent curler.

Working up an appetite, we’d stop for lunch, either at Dusterburg’s Drug Store lunch counter for a toasted ham-salad sandwich or The Greeks for a Coney Island, with their fabulous French Fries.

Now, about our attire. Believe it or not, it was a badge of honor to wear our hair in curlers, usually covered with a scarf, while shopping downtown.

That meant the wearer had a date that night and she was saving her fancy ’do for the evening. By the way, remember those curlers? Each one had a little brush inside and was secured with a pink pick. I tried to sleep on them some nights, but it was like cuddling up to a porcupine pillow.

After we’d reassured ourselves about our social standing and actually accomplished a few errands, we’d head home to get ready for our “big night.”

Such were Old School Saturdays.

A resident of Arlington for 40+ years, Carol McEwen sells real estate when she’s not imparting deep insights or sparkling wit in this column. Reach her at carolwrites4fun@gmail.com.

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