Memory Lane: Dad’s Paycheck

Image result for images of family, house and car 1959

My daddy worked at the Ford plant for some 25 years, starting a little after I was born. Went to high school, served in the Navy during World War II, got married, settled into a job, and raised a family. In this he was not at all unusual.

It seems incredible now, but throughout the 1950s and 60s, his Ford paycheck was the only source of money for a family of five. But that paycheck was enough to provide the five of us with a house in a quiet, pleasant neighborhood, a nice car every few years, good food on the table every day, a family vacation most years, nice clothes for children who kept growing out of them–in short, with everything we needed, and most of what we wanted. My mother only had to work occasionally, and never for long. Mostly she wisely managed the family’s money.

None of this was unusual. Our whole neighborhood was one-paycheck households, with everybody pretty much at the same middle-class standard of living. The father worked. The mother raised the kids and ran the house. We went to school, and to church, and played. The grownups got together for poker, or to watch TV, and sometimes had a pickup baseball game. Boy, I loved to watch my father hit!

It was all so ordinary, so sane. So wonderful. I’m sitting here writing about it and my eyes are starting to tear up. This was wealth that can’t be measured in money.

This was America.



8 comments on “Memory Lane: Dad’s Paycheck

  1. I understand totally. I can just about cry when I think of my young days.
    We had wonderful, big family dinners, lots of cousins to play with, plenty of everything for everybody, peace and happiness all around. Nothing like the insane world of today.

  2. Yeah, Lee, my memories of my growing up years are full of the sort of thing that you mentioned in your post. We lived in Kensington, in Philadelpia, and it wasn’t run down and trashed like it is today. I remember summer block parties where all the neighbors on our block stayed outside, families hanging out with other families, eating sandwiches, potato salad, sodas for the kids, stronger stuff for the parents. Music blaring from open windows, the baseball game on radios with extension cords attached and running in at windows, little kids in portable swimming pools keeping cool, older kids playing ball games like halfies, KING, or playing board games. And I better stop….. write this all down in my journal. I need to remember and to write so I can share these memories with my kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, and anyone who is interested. Thanks, Lee, for your post. I miss that America as well.

  3. You got me with this one Lee. I was fighting back the tears myself when I read it.

    So much has been lost since the ’50s. Our moral character, as a nation, has hit rock bottom and it’s cost us dearly.

    In line with Elene’s comments (which I always enjoy reading), I feel very sad when I think back to the days of my childhood. We were far from wealthy, but life was much happier. I probably make more (adjusted for inflation) than my parents did in their day, but I’m certainly no richer.

    I have savings and a retirement fund that would have been beyond their wildest dream, but the economy is so unstable that it provides little in the way of security. I’d love to change jobs, but that’s impossible in the foreseeable future and I can’t even begin to afford a home in the state where I prefer to live.

    On paper, we have more wealth, but in all practical terms, we are glorified serfs.

  4. I have a different take, thanks to a little Sister of St. Joseph, one of those who educated me in elementary and high school. She told us, “The Communists believe that the only things standing between them and their world domination are the Family and the Church.”

    That was in the 50’s. Ever since, I have been watching as both the Family and the Church have come under increasing attack and devaluation, including sabotage.

    I have been very active in the pro-life, pro-family movement since the 1970s.

    Speaking of the Family, the Feminist Movement was used to undermine the Family by devaluing the role of women as homemakers, and men as protectors and providers. Women were made to feel that if they didn’t have a career outside the home, they weren’t worth much at all. Men were made to feel unappreciated and unnecessary, Consequently, they didn’t feel guilty about abandoning the Family. The state would pay to raise their children.

    Many children were raised without a father, leaving them hungering for a father’s affection and protection. Boys often replace that with gang membership. We now have gangs of roving boys seeking to prove their manhood, since they didn’t have a father to teach them how to be a man, and to affirm them when they behaved like real men.

    Girls often seek the male attention and affection they didn’t get from a father in the arms of boys at a young age, seeking their approval and affirmation by being “sexy.”

    Planned Parenthood exacerbates the situation by promoting sex education in the public schools, which encourages promiscuity, and abortion without parental knowledge or consent.

    If it were honestly studied and reported, I think the state of Chicago is largely a result of family breakdown. And I believe Chicago could be a bellweather for the nation.

    The best day care center in the world cannot replace a mother who stays home to tenderly raise the children, and a father who lovingly protects and provides for his family.

    1. And of course there was Hillary, “It takes a village to raise a child,” blah-blah: so speaks the major political party that seeks the destruction of the family. Algore says we can replace it with “alternative families,” God help us.

      Great to hear from you, Evelyn–you and I go back a long way.

      Have you heard anything from or of Jim McGregor? I haven’t been able to get in touch with him for several months now.

Leave a Reply