Growing Up


Richard Thayer Chadwick
May, 1916 -- March, 2015

Ruth Margaret (McClellan) Chadwick
July, 1921 -- January, 2000

Devoted wife for over 55 years, my mother gave life to three children. In failing health, she made it to the millennium, but just barely.

My father taught us the joy of understanding and doing for ourselves and respect for the rights and property of others.



ca. 1947

ca. 1949

High school graduation, 1962

Boyhood home -- 1032 Ferris, Royal Oak, Michigan

(That blue spruce was three feet tall when we planted it!)

That house had a "milkchute" by the side door -- a little compartment about 18 inches square in the side wall with doors on the inside and outside. The milkman used to come in his delivery truck once or twice each week. He would pick up the empty glass milk bottles from the chute and place new bottles full of milk in their place. Then we could get the milk from the inside without having to go outside the house. How handy was that?

A milkchute was also good for slipping a little kid into the house to open the door from the inside in case you got locked out.

I liked the natural-flavored yoghurt that the milkman sold in wide-mouthed glass jars. I would run to meet the milkman so I could ask for yoghurt, then eat it straight from the jar with a spoon.

My father thought the milkman had a nice job. He thought he might like being a milkman instead of the electrical engineer that he was. Once my father took a week's vacation and travelled with the milkman on his route. He decided to stay in engineering, until in his 50's he decided not to be an engineer any more and became a country newspaper delivery man. Sort of like the milkman, except earlier in the morning. The milkman worked for a company called "Twin Pines". They sponsored a television show in Detroit with a host called "Milky the Clown". Whatever happened to the milkman?

I also remember when we had a coal furnace downstairs in that house -- a big round thing right in the middle of the cellar with forced-air ducts coming out of the top of it in all directions. The coal truck would back up the driveway and dump coal down a long wooden chute through one of the cellar windows into a "coalbin" in our "basement". (That's what we called the cellar.) Now that I think of it, one amazing thing is that there was not a special opening for the coal chute. It just got stuck through one of the ordinary little cellar windows. There was a special opening built into the house for milk, but not for coal.

Every so often on winter days my mother would have to go downstairs to the cellar, open the furnace door, and shovel coal into the fire to keep it going. Sometime in the early 1950s the coal-burning furnace was replaced by a natural-gas heater and a new forced-air ducting system.

Our telephone had an exchange with a name, not just a number. Our number was LIncoln 3-3645. It was dialed "L-I-3-3-6-4-5".

We got our first television in the early 50s. It had a black-and-white screen; there was no color TV then. The screen was small and round on the ends. A few years later it was replaced with a more modern Magnavox set with a larger rectangular screen, still black and white. One of the popular children's shows in the 1950s was the "Howdie Doodie Show". Howdie Doodie was a marionette, sort of a cowboy type. The show was hosted by "Buffalo Bob" Smith. There were other characters: an old guy, Mr. Bluster (also a marionette), an Indian Princess (Princess Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring), and Clarabel the Clown who was mute but had a little air horn on his belt that he honked in place of speech. This program was on TV in the late afternoon, and I think it was a cute show. For some reason I never did understand, my father hated the Howdie Doodie show. He forebade my younger brother Mark and me from watching it. My mother, however, was more lenient and would let us watch Howdie Doodie as long as my father wasn't home. One day my father came home from work early and caught my brother and me watching Howdie Doodie. He kicked over the Magnavox TV and broke its glass front. The picture tube was still OK, but after that we had this TV with no glass on the front where it was supposed to be. What was up with that?

Now in my 50s sometimes I think I'm a little neurotic and wonder why. Then I remember this stuff.

I also remember the "Ken Murray Show." It was a variety show, and one of the weekly features was a blonde lady* that came out dressed in a cowgirl outfit, six shooters and all. She would sing the same song every week: "I like the wide-open spaces." Then she would turn her back to the camera, and the outfit had no back on it. You could see her underwear. This was considered humor.

*Laurie Anders

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