Thursday, 13 February 2014
The strange distant world of the late 1950's
That world seems strange even to myself now.
We didn't have refrigerator, nor a washing machine... A dish washer? You must be joking :-)
No mixer, no blender, no vacuum cleaner. There was gas in the apartment, for hot water and cooking but I almost died at the age of 2 from monoxide poisoning. We didn't have a telephone. We didn't have a TV, but we had a radio. No gramophone, no car, no motorcycle, no bicycle. My sister had a pair of rollers and I had a wooden skiro (romobil). I enjoyed it very much.
It was the same model like the one in the picture. Only mine was in blue colour.
I was wearing Lederhose and for special occasions my sailor's suit. I preferred Lederhose. I must have looked ridiculous as a dwarf sailor.
The stores at the time kept only one or two products of the kind. The farmers brought fresh milk to our doorstep. The street musicians were performing in the closed yards of the city town blocks. The change was tossed to them from the balconies and windows.
Everybody was smoking cigarettes without filter. Smoking was cool.Some even chewed tobacco. There were spittoons in public places.
The only work free day of the week was Sunday. There were still horse carriages in the streets. In the winter time, most of the streets were covered with snow, which didn't bother anybody. The horse sledges were also in use until the mid 60's.
The river Sava was still clean and safe for swimming in Summer time. It was teaming with fish and shrimps. There were still millions of wild animals in Africa, roaming free. The Brazilian rain forest was still untamed and vast. The oceans and the seas were still relatively free of garbage and full of life. The world population was about 3 billion, compared with today's over 7 billion.
There wasn't any ozone layer hole present yet (or we were just unable to detect it). There wasn't global warming either. However, nuclear powers were conducting nuclear tests quite often. In deserts or on the beautiful Pacific atolls. Each time using even more powerful device. Nobody cared about the radioactive fallout. The cold war was at its peak. The destiny of the world was very uncertain. The option of a humankind self-destruction was in the hands of a very few. There were many local wars going on in the World. Many countries were still colonies.
The radioactive waste was carelessly being dumped into the seas and rivers. Other highly toxic waste was handled the similar way. Nobody knew or cared about them. It was usually a top secret issue.
Asbestos was a magic material and it's use was wide spread.
Computers were ridiculously large, taking space of several rooms and had the capacity of a modern simple calculator.
In a way, late 50's were not much different from the late 30's. here is Zagreb from the late 30's.
In the 50's malaria has been eradicated throughout the ex Yugoslavia thanks to the magic insekticide DDT. Later it proved to be a dangerous neurotoxin, which was literary indestructible. The bed bugs were gone (only to return about a decade ago). The fleas were everywhere. The ticks in the woods were scarce and didn't carry deadly Lyme disease. Penicillin was a new powerful, omnipotent tool against many bacterial infections. However, viruses were still very dangerous. A pandemic of polio caused foreclosure of numerous public children's pools in Zagreb. Before this measure, children took every opportunity and place for bathing.
Instead of coffee we drank this cheap surrogate in the morning:
Real Turkish coffee was enjoyed at our home, too. However, we bought it raw so it had to be roasted on a pan and then grind in a hand mill grinder. We still have the old grinder.
We ate dry cookies. There were only a couple of types available. We were lucky our mother was an expert cook, so we didn't have to eat that industrial stuff too often.
I ate my first banana at the age of 4.
I collected matchstick boxes
We still didn't have a camera
Our old radiio: model Savica 1956
He ruled the radio waves in the late 50's:
This young Canadian was very popular, too:
I loved this guy's song "Ghost riders in the sky"
... and Peggy's "Fever"
"Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)"
The voice of this may was heard all the way from Italy:
I didn't understand the word what he was singing about but the song was wonderful to my ears.
There were some really good singers in ex Yugoslavia as well:
The song "Strangers in the night", one of Sinatra's greatest hits, was originally written by Ivo Robic for a music festival in Split, Croatia. Robic later recorded versions in Croatian ("Stranci u Noci") and in German ("Fremde in der Nacht"). English lyrics about love at first sight were written by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder.
I enjoyed reading comics magazine published in Belgrade "Kekec". The Croatian version was in Latin letters:
My mom and sister were reading this magazine:
Another comics magazine I started reading. Mostly for the Dan Dare Pilot of the future.
Another magazine at the time.
I liked watching Laurel and Hardy
Tempus fugit. Like everything else, the 1950's ended and the 1960's started, bringing some new worlds and views. I started going to school. The times of total freedom were over.
I loved the vicinity of nature that came with our new home down by the river. There were ponds with fish, turtles and frogs. Wild birds, hares, weasels, musk rats were numerous. Unfortunately, the beauty of the nature came for a price.
A few years later our house was flooded for several days. We lived on the upper floor in a surreal world on a sort of an island. I remember I was happy I didn't have to go to school, which was also flooded (the long building partly visible on the right).
The great flood of Zagreb in 1964
After the flood our street got asphalted and we got a telephone line. Our home was quite damaged by the water and mud. Alas, it wasn't insured.
A very interesting blog on old Zagreb in Croatian.