Christmas time was a magical adventure when we were kids; our family rode the Woodward trolley downtown to see the latest Disney film and ate hot buttered popcorn. Only downtown theaters had first run movies. Then, we visited Hudson’s Department Store’s North Pole with robotic elves and a live Santa Claus. We would
top the day with a Sander’s hot fudge cream puff sundae.
Detroit’s downtown bustled with activity back then: people thronged into stores, restaurants, theatres, office buildings, banks, and the town was decked with Christmas
lights and holiday music. Electric buses and trolleys criss-crossed the grid. Workers
and shoppers packed the sidewalks.
Detroit in the 1950s was a big city, a vibrant world class automotive center. Everyone had a good job and worked hard; there was charity but no welfare. Detroit was safe, neighborhoods were clean and kept up, there was little crime and no drugs. People looked out for each other.
No one had money after the War, but people dressed in style and wore it with a sign of respect – men in suits, ties, polished shoes and hats; woman in dresses or suits, high heels, stockings, hats, and gloves. Everyone took the bus or trolley; cars were for Sunday church, rides in the country, and Grandma’s Sunday dinner. There was no divorce, families stayed together. The elderly, young, and sick were taken care of.
Honor, duty, and responsibility were not questioned. The country just came out of World War Two and the Great Depression – people took responsibility for their family and job, for church and community.
Kids were taught manners and respect. School was where we learned math, reading, history, science, music, and art. We were taught that one could be anything if we worked hard enough. We were expected to be the first generation in the family to go to college “and be somebody”. Detroit in the 1950s gave us the heartland of America and we were proud and optimistic about the future.