I am not sure now how I ended up on your website, but it somehow involved trying to find old acquaintances I had while serving my 20 year career in the Air Force. Although not a Marine, I am very grateful for all the USMC had done, continues to do, and will continue to do. Anyway, I found your website to be very enjoyable reading, very personable, and well constructed. I, too, am a product of the 1950's, '60's, and '70's. We are very different in as many ways as we seem to be very similar. Again, thanks for sharing your life. Best wishes and god-speed.
Alexander City, Alabama
I just ran across your website, Avacado Memories, and I want to applaud your efforts and sentiment. What a great website, and what a valuable document you have shared with me.
Last summer I had dinner with a friend's in laws sometime in July. During our visit one of my friends' sisters' in-law brought out a family album that chronicled the entire history of her nuclear family (limited to the beginnings of her mother and father, and ending with their last days on this earth). What she shared with me was, of course in part, a document of my friends wife's childhood, and her piece of the puzzle of our existence through the window of her family's traditions. But much, much more seemed to glow from the pages of this "scrapbook". Jokes from her mothers friends in high-school written on old photos of a teenager breathless with laughter. Windswept photos of an Oklahoma plain with a regal nineteen year-old woman who stands stiffly in the foreground, seemingly unaware of her telling tensions and beauty. The handsome father knows best posturing of the oil executive patriarch through nearly seventy years of our cultural history. As you know so well, the head of steam the years between 1965 and 1975 seemed to embody, but precipitated upon the bodies and choices of a family remaining essentially the most important "things" in each others lives. I tried to talk to my friend about this, and while his wife's family was receptive to the conversation, my friend just shook his head and said, "Man, all I see are pictures." The possibility that that is all a scrapbook is, only makes me more entranced by my feelings and sentiment when I see a family, or personal history such as yours. Just so great.
The reason I came across your website was that I was researching (like more than few others I imagine) "Ode to Billy Joe", and consequently read your delightfully self-deprecating essay. While somewhat amused myself at your admitting to needing help with these songs, I can't really laugh too hard since I sung out in a crowd as a thirteen-year old what I presumed to be the chorus of "Good Lovin'", "Doodle-ay, doodle-ay, you've got to get laid!" My wonderful, open minded parents had the good sense to enjoy my confusion more than correct me until we were in a more private arena.
Porter Wagoner died in the last two years, and around that time I called my father on Fathers Day. I was standing in my garden here in Bloomington, Indiana and contemplating my corn and talking to my dad, when my father said to me, "You know I recently bought an Essential Porter Wagoner, and I just was amazed how great he was." I don't remember what I said to my dad beyond completely agreeing with him. I am sure you have heard his song by now, but if you haven't, listen to it. The artifacts of our personal longings represent more than what we can easily describe with words and self expression, and I believe country music cannot be explained into the stature that it naturally occupies for some. Like all music, you simply take its hand, and let go of casality and rhetoric for the fever dreams of another, then ask your companion, "Pass the potatoes please."
Thanks for your website.
I'm about ten years younger than you and grew up in Southern Oregon which was at times home to enough Californian transplants to be considered a suburb of Los Angeles. Despite these differences your site has brought back some memories of the 70's. Here are some things I remember that I'm not sure your site covers:
Televisions: Say you had a nice house, a nice car, and maybe a nice boat. What next? The best damn television in the neighborhood, that's what. When we got a big RCA color television in 1971, we rocked the neighborhood. People would come over to see football games in color, or what passed for color in those days. The poor black and white set was sent to the kitchen for unpopular shows.
Unfortunately the color televisions weren't very cooperative yet. Skin tones would often make everyone look like they had a severe sunburn. The rational thing to do would be to turn the color down, but why would you do that? It's a color set! Since Dad was a ham radio operator, he spent more time in the television than in front of it. We even had a standing mirror so he could see the picture as he made adjustments that would drift back into ugliness an hour later.
The other television ritual was Dad standing on the roof tweaking the antenna while we yelled "better" or "worse" at him. Our area had lots of hills and lots of multipath so getting rid of the ghosts was virtually impossible. This was made worse with unshielded 300 ohm twin-lead running to both televisions. This stuff was really intended for one vertical drop from an antenna on the chimney down to one television, not to distribute the signal around the house.
Teachers: Did you have crazy ones? You mentioned some you avoided or wished you could have avoided but we had ones that did things that still shock me thirty years later and others who were so ignorant that I spent years unlearning the nonsense they taught. For example I was surprised to learn years later that zero is NOT a positive number despite my ninth grade algebra teacher yelling at me that it was. Some science teachers were closet Creationists and they hinted that maybe the universe was only a few thousand light years big since light didn't exist before God created it -- it's all a matter of debate. A substitute teacher (these were the worst) said that we knew the Earth was round because it was in the Bible. Actually the Bible implies the Earth is flat with four corners in some places, but says it's a circle in another place and that was close enough to a ball for him. I guess there was no reason to mention Aristotle's observations from 2,000 years ago in a science class.
Devil Music: Obviously my area was very conservative and liked it that way. This may have been more of a late-70's early-80's fad but there was great concern that all the problems of youth were directly tied to rock 'n' roll music. Kids were once fine respectable citizens who never questioned authority, then rock music came and messed their brains up. Alice Cooper was the Marylin Manson of the day and if you heard your son listening to "I Love the Dead", he was on a path to delinquency. With a little imagination, they extended this theory to pop songs on the radio with their secret "backwards" messages telling kids to smoke marijuana and mouth off to their parents and so on. I think this was a Reagan era fad however.
Toys: Man, I don't remember hardly anything but board games. I only remember Lite-Brite, with it's searing light bulb and easily-swallowed transparent parts. I do remember Clackers but there was an important modification: they REMOVED the string so they could no longer be used as weapons. I had no idea this was their original form! By the time I was in the fifth grade, they were just highly valued marbles and they were prized for their beauty. You could get twenty marbles for one Clacker, if I remember correctly. There was a classic simple toy I believe was called "Slime". It was simply slime, colored green, non-toxic, non-staining, and came in a small plastic jar shaped like a garbage can. Its uses were left to the owner. It was great for scaring girls or for jokes like really gross fake sneezes.
That's all I can think of for now. Although I'm from a later generation, I hope that I've shaken some more of your memories loose. I can't believe how much you remember.
Wes— Keith here. I used to live on the west end of the Valhalla/Pierce Brothers cemetery, on Clybourn Street in North Hollywood. I was born in 1953, but lived at that location from 1956-1974 (counting my time in the Air Force). Your site is terrific, and I visit every so often for that nostalgic “buzz.” If you’ve been to Google Earth, perhaps you have been treated to a walk down “memory lane” that way. It’s sad to see some stuff go by the wayside, but then again… I work as a DJ at a radio station in Springfield, MO, and never get back to So Cal, but we were certainly part of something special back then, for sure. Keep up the good work.
Thanks for the encouraging words!
Yes, I’ve used google earth – fascinating software – a real time waster. It’s interesting to flag places you’ve been and zoom around the earth looking at satellite photos…
I was just telling someone about the bellows coffee table we had in the early 1980s. I searched the web for a photo and came across yours much to my surprise!
My husband bought it from an elderly couple in Placentia in the early 80s. I've always wondered if there was another out there -- looks like there was at least one! We gave ours away to a young man who worked in the music industry in Hollywood and like you have wondered if it ended up in the movie Apollo 13.
Thanks for avocado memories.
Dear Wes -
Hope you don't mind the familiar greeting, but I've just been reading your website which I stumbled upon by accident. I was thinking: "Wow, this guy grew up on the other side of the country from me at the same time and we seem to have a lot of the same memories."
And when I got to the photo of your den my mouth dropped open - I had that same rifle set when I was a kid. What is particularly poignant is that I recently found it in the attic of my parent's house, which I am cleaning out as my father recently passed on. Under a pile of empty Christmas boxes, there it lay: white elephant on the stock, cap-firing mechanism hanging open. I picked it up and couldn't believe it - it's been at least 40 years since I saw it last. So I did the only thing possible - took it home and put it in the rack of my sitting room.
Sure, I had to put an expensive custom-built varmint rifle in the safe to make room, but there it is where I can see it and remember how proud my Mom was that she had picked out a birthday present I really wanted.
And just the other day I was telling a friend that my Mom, God rest her soul, had many fine qualities but a complete and total lack of taste. Looking over their house with the painter who is going to paint the interior, I was amused when he said: "Boy, I haven't seen sea-foam green since the mid-70s."
But my parents, like yours, did their best. And they gave us a world free from the worries they had as a child. Growing up in the rural South during the Great Depression, my father actually knew people who starved to death, not to mention going to the Pacific during WWII. My mother's people were so poor they didn't have heat in their house one winter. So you and I grew up in a culture that freed us to enjoy the mysteries of life. That was our parents' greatest gift to us.
Best wishes to you and your family,
Thanks for the wonderful e-mail, Ken!
Ah, another Magumba owner. I distinctly recall a feeling of real pride when I took that thing out of the cardboard box. What great marketing! And you still have yours!
"...this guy grew up on the other side of the country from me at the same time and we seem to have a lot of the same memories"
This is a common theme in the e-mail I've received over the years. I've even heard it from Canadians, Brits and New Zealanders. Apparently there is such a thing as a world culture or trend, and in the Sixties and Seventies, avocado was heavily involved.
Yes, our parents did their best - and that was quite a lot, as you observe.
Just a small message to say I stumbled upon your site by accident last week and thought it was absolutely fantastic, humorous and touching. Well done to you sir!!
I'm a Media and Music teacher from Sheffield, England and have been researching 1960's American culture for my yr13 class.
Now you have a group of teenagers from my class hooked on your website every week!!
I had been talking to my 78 year old uncle and he reminded me that our cousin, the late Dave Scher, used to make those bellows coffee tables in his garage in Sherman Oaks.
It was a side business for him. I was a young boy visiting from NY in the late '60 or early 70's and I remember him taking us into the garage to show us a work-in-progress.
La Crescenta, CA
Well, so much for the exclusive nature of their possession, as told to my mother! - Wes
I suppose I have little in common with you, but so many things you talk about and show on your site resonate strongly. You really send me back to my childhood in the 60's. Yes, there were differences; I was in Massachusetts, my Mom is from Michigan and I'm a tad younger, but my older brother had those great toys that you talk about my older sister bought tarot cards and started doing readings, and I sometimes caught a fascinating glimpse of Dark Shadows after school.. I feel liked you've captured the era so brilliantly....seems such a long time ago, such a different world. I suppose sometimes I miss it.
I was driving through Burbank yesterday, thinking about all those places you write about. I was a bit annoyed at myself that I didn't jot down the addresses to see how things looked.
Thanks for all the amazing effort you've put into Avocado Memories...
Long time, no speak…
I’ve been keeping up with your website’s updates and having just as much fun re-reading all the other material you have posted there. It’s always the best way for me to time-travel back to the 60s.
I had to drop you a line to make mention of a recent phenomenon I’ve noticed under the heading of “History repeats itself”. My wife, Fonda, is a frequent viewer of HGTV. They often have programs featuring room make-overs done by whichever interior designer hosts that particular show. The recent trend I’ve noticed is that a certain color is being used for wall paint and fabric accents that is steadily pushing aside the up-till-now very popular practice of painting certain rooms’ walls red. (eek! – I always joked “Red room! Redrum!” - paraphrasing The Shining.)
I think by now you suspect what that color might be… That’s right, boys and girls, can you spell AVOCADO? So it looks like in the newly-refurbished rooms of the cutting-edge hip and chic, avocado is not just a memory. I just knew it would happen – particularly with a generation not old enough to remember it first-hand. Alas, take heart, fellow Jonesers, for this too shall pass… when next year they naively rediscover mauve and grey from the 80s! ;-)
Figured I just had to share this observation with you. Please give a shout back if/when you have time. And as always, thank you for Avocado Memories.
Take care and God Bless.
Palm Harbor, FL
As my wife works in a Calico Corners store, and is familiar with all the up and coming color trends, this is no surprise to me! I guess red and gold, mint and brown, and eggplant are trending out. It had to happen. As far as avocado goes, however, the signs were detectable as far back as 1999. - Wes
I happened across your Web page, really enjoyed it. I have a question for you, about the 007 cologne. Most colognes smell at least SOMEWHAT like something else - I think Jade East & Hai Karate were similar, while English Leather pretty-much is distinctive. Do you remember what 007 cologne smelled like, and could you describe it? I promise not to disclose your impressions to S.P.E.C.T.R.E., SMERSH, or THRUSH.
All the best to you!
Oh, golly, I can't recall. Having a memory is one thing - having a memory for scents is quite another!
The Pancake Man: Thank goodness someone else remembers this show. The lyric you wrote was for the opening. the closing was:
"The Pancake Man/The Pancake Man/ NO MORE TIME FOR The Pancake Man/Got to hurry/Time to go/See you on tomorrow's show/AT the International House of Pancakes!"
Did you also collect the finger puppets?
Nope! - Wes
Wanted to thank you for the memories......I was born about 2 years before you (1954) but was raised on the same toys.......I had been looking for the MB Game Monster Old Maid.....and when I saw Hamilton's Invaders by Remco it kind of blew my mind.....take a real good look at the scenes in Starship Troopers......Wonder if that is where the writer got his idea for the movie...
I just stumbled upon your site... actually googling info on those stretched Coke/Pepsi bottles from the 70s! I had forgotten about those (yep, we had some sitting on the shelf in front of the glass block) until I just saw a pic in a magazine recently. I've been reading & laughing about your memories because I can relate...I was born in 1960 and lived to tell the tale of avocado green & harvest gold... and then some.
I'm very big on nostalgia & recapturing lost childhood items... I used to say for years how much I loved watching the kid game show, "Shenanigans" that was always met with a blank stare from the listener.
A few weeks ago I randomly stopped at a yard sale. There lying on the grass was the board game "Shenanigans!" I was surprised no one had gotten it since it was already afternoon & it was only $1. It looks like it has hardly been played with. Anyway, your toy page made me go, "oh, yeah, I remember that, too!"
Thanks for sharing your memories.
By the way, I didn't grow up in Calif but I currently live in a San Fernando Valley 1954 tract home which I am trying to get to look more like that era. It still has the cool gray & teal bathroom tiles. :)
I found your site while looking at some places that don't exist anymore. I so enjoyed reading almost everything. I'll have to come back another time. It made me feel that I missed a lot.
I was born in 1948 and had one sister and while our house in South Gate, CA., was much the same but without add-ons, a pool or patio, it sounds like you had a lot more fun. My parents had only one couch their entire married life, over 50 yrs, but no one was ever allowed to sit on it, save perhaps Christmas. I loved all of the changes that your parents made, it seems like they really enjoyed life. I remember always wishing for some kind of backyard living area. Yours shows that it didn't have to be overly expensive to have been fun. It was a waste too, as we had a large yard, but nothing was ever done with it except weeding and mowing. I did enjoy some rays out there in the spring and early summer on the grass, by myself on a beach towel.
Anyway, I just wanted to say, it was so smart of you to have taken the pictures that you did, I wish I had more. The best to you and your family. I have three kids now, 21, 25 and 27, married with one 7mo old. The 21 yr old still lives at home. I hope that I have given them good memories. The ones that you can laugh at are the best ones.
Thank You, Terrye
I just wanted to thank you for your toys from the sixties web page. I hit it about once a month because its fascinating. I had almost everyone of those toys myself and thought I would never see them again. Its fun to look at them on ebay also.
I have a question for you that may seem strange but since we were on the same wavelength in regards to toys maybe you might recall. In the sixties the six pack of fritos was offering a free giveaway in each 6 pack of Fritos. One of which was the dinosaurs you show on your website. I remember they were offering small plastic figurines of "monsters". The only two I remember were "harry scarey" and "tony boney'. I have searched the internet for years trying to see some mention of them but have had no luck. I figure if anybody would remember it would be you. I live on the east coast so maybe they did not offer it on the west coast but I thought I would ask anyway.
Sorry if this seems strange but it's like a 'quest" for me. I have located (thanks to you) my X-500 Space Base and my Astro Ray gun and my Monkey Division equipment so I figured" what the hell".
Anything you might remember about this would be appreciated.
Hi Wes, I found stumbled upon your site back in 2001. For some reason, the site popped into my head tonight and I was so happy to find that you are still up and running! Thanks for all you do. The site really brings back some great memories!
I have been following Avocado Memories for several years after stumbling on the site.
It is by far the best description of that time period that I have seen.
Periodically, I check back to see if there are any updates.
Thanks for sharing the memories.
Great site... I'm a little younger than you... born in '63, but I had similar experiences in the 60's and 70's, as the ones you document on your site. I sure wish I had documented them as you have.
By-the-way, that awful bubble stuff was called "Super Elastic Bubble Plastic" in the midwest. It was made by Wham-O and it was horrific. Not only was it flammable and toxic, it hardly ever worked. And a little glob of that stuff on the curtains sent my mother through the roof!
Other things you might relate to... copies of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles. The orange and yellow label was very hypnotizing on the turntable as it looked like the yellow was eating the orange, etc. Did Capitol Records do this on purpose?
Did you have a fascination, as I did with walkie talkies? I always seemed to have a cheap pair of them lying around as a kid... the ones with the red "beep" button. I think the signal went all of 20 feet. One summer day my brother and I used them to make a tape recording of an "Apollo" moon mission in which we saw a "bogey" while coming back to earth. It sounded pretty authentic.
Like everyone else I wish I'd hung on to my baseball cards (Reds fan then) - Topps only! I too put together models and did horrible things to them with a soldering iron to make my World War II German fighters look battle-weary. My Aurora "mummy" model was my fave... the one with the cobra.
I could go on and on, but I'm sure you've seen these types of comments before. Thanks again for a great site and wonderful memories!
What a trip! (yes, that phrase is still in my vocabulary...) I love your website! I stumbled on your website by accident while doing a "birth mother" search, and I can totally relate! I was born on June 22, 1958, and grew up in Monterey Park, CA.
One of my childhood memories includes going to the "Bozo" TV show, I remember seeing myself on the TV monitor when the camera was panning over the audience - I can still sing the BOZO theme song too! I think I even have the flyer from the show with the date and everything on it - somewhere in a box!
I still have my Kenner Easy Bake Oven in the box, and Chatty Cathy doll, and two life like "Playpal" dolls that my best friend and I played with!
I had a blue "Huffy" Stingray - I used to go to Western Auto and buy things like a bigger sissy bar, and reflectors and stuff to "enhance" my bike! I got a bright yellow "boys" (because even if you were a girl, a girl 10 speed wasn't cool) Schwinn Varsity 10 speed when I was about 15, this was my pride and joy - when I got my drivers license I sold it to the neighbor and within a week it was stolen! I told him to lock it up! My first car was a brand new 1976 Chevy Camaro - my mom said: "College or a Car" of course I opted for the car -- it was 1976, why did I need to go to college, I was going to get married and have babies...LOL!
I was a Dark Shadow fan also, had Tarot cards, black candles, etc... also!
Mom wasn't into decorating, she pretty much kept the same furniture they bought in 1948 (when the house was brand new), until the seventies...but my best friend Janice's parents were more "in style" when we were really young in the early sixties their house was decorated in Mid Century Modern Danish, with the three piece sectional sofa, kidney shaped formica topped coffee and end tables, and they even had a orange phone - oh and the mosaic pictures on the wall! In the late sixties they redecorated with the "Blue and Green" theme with mediterreaan style coffee tables and giant glass bubble lamps, and of course those resin grapes -- with the kitchen in Harvest Gold and Green, and her mom was in to doing crafts - so she "antiqued" the kitchen cupboards this green/gold color with black wrought iron handles!
My mother ran this non-profit type business called "The Americanism Center" during the sixties, it promoted Americanism as opposed to Communism, I used to hang out there alot with my mom, they had rummage sales and stuff like that - but the most memorable thing about it was meeting Ronald Reagan - he came to give a speech there while he was governer, I was excited - not because he was governer - but because he was a "movie star"!
One more thing - in that picture with you and "Leslie" on your Stingray - I had a bathing suit almost exactly like the red & white one she has on! I have a picture of that too somewhere!
I could go on forever - but wanted to let me know that you inspired me to do my own memories page on my "MySpace" page -
I know this email was lengthy - and like I said, I could go on forever - and thats why I'm going to try to do my own "avacado memories" page!
Wes! I stumbled across your awesome website and have spent many an hour perusing your memories. I was born November 2, 1952, so I'm a few years old than you. My "big" sister was five when I came to be, and in 1959, our "baby sister" was born. Like yourself, I grew up in an atmosphere full of toys, TV, and lots of fun. Here are some of my toy memories:
In the late 50's, probably about 58 (which is my first memory that I can pinpoint), I had a Robert the Robot that literally scared the s--t out of me! My dad would shut off the light and make it crawl out of our darkened living room toward me (I was sitting on the floor in the lighted kitchen). I can still see Robert's mouth-grid, outlined by the dim lightbulb atop his square noggin'! We played with that thing for years, until one of its arms actually fell off. He couldn't talk any more, either...but in 2005, I bought one of the Ideal Classics repros, and now he's once again in my possession (but still MIB!).
Another toy I remember vividly from that period was a toy dashboard, made by Remco, I think. It was yellow, with a red steering wheel. When you turned on the "ignition," you could actually flick the signals and make the windshield wipers work! Don't know whatever happened to that thing. We moved in 58, when I was 5, and a lot of my toys fell into a black hole!
I also had a kid-sized metal car, powered by push-pedal. That was big enough to do damage if you ran it into an unsuspecting victim! My sister had a Gilbert chemistry set that I was not allowed to touch, so I'd watch her make all kinds of noxious potions. Mostly I remember the smell of the alcohol burner! One of my earliest memories of my older sister was finding an Easter Peep in her bureau drawer and trying to take a bite out of it! Alas, the thing was hard as a rock, and I haven't liked Peeps since. Ha!
When Judy, our younger sister, came along, that's when the toy deluge started! My parents were big believers in having great Christmases and birthdays, and they always bought us stuff like comic books, coloring books, and those neat punch-out dioramas--Christmas-themed, mostly, but I also vividly recall punch out sets for The Sword in the Stone and The Beverly Hillbillies. Judy was truly a privileged child, and we showered her with every toy imaginable. She had several battery-operated thingamabobs, like a ladybut that flapped its wings and turned around when it walked into a wall. She also had a tin Marx robot, battery-operated, that I saw on eBay going for something like $1,000! One Christmas, my folks bought her a tin rollercoaster set that she played with for all of one day. It was eventually sold in a lawn sale sometime during the 70's, and nowdays commands big bucks as a collectible. Ah, you live and learn.
I was, of course, a monster kid and loved the Aurora models. Had every monster, plus the superheroes and spies, assorted vehicles and such. I loved Batman, too! As I said, my parents bought us comics all the time, especially when we went on drives and trips. Here's a memory: I'm sitting in our garage on the steps to the kitchen reading a story about a teenager who's bitten by a spider and becomes something called a "spider-man!" Yep, believe it or not, that was Amazing Fantasy 15, the first appearance of Spidey. Of course, we never kept the thing. Dang!
And speaking of comics, your memory of Ferro Lad's death brought a nostalgic smile to my face...for I, too, loved DC comics and began collecting them right before my 8th grade in the summer of 1966. I remember where I was when I first read the Death of Ferro Lad--sitting in our car, December 27, 1966! I'd just bought it, along with 7 other 12 centers (could get 8 for a buck back then). My comic collecting went on for years--in fact, I just stopped collecting a few years back! We're talking a near 40-year stretch!
Today, I'm a freelance writer, very big into nostalgia, and I oftentime write articles that deal with my childhood. The last article I did on the topic ran in Autograph Collector magazine last summer. I was and still am a fanatical autograph collector, with emphasis on classic Hollywood and especially Baby Boomer-related stars. I did an entire article on Dark Shadows, as well!
I could go on and on, but I wanted to touch base with you. I think we're kindred souls, and I do enjoy going down memory lane with someone who's actually been there. Excelsior!
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