Remember When: Springtime in the 50’s and 60’s

Do you remember the coming of springtime when you were a child in the 50’s and 60’s? Here are a few of our fondest memories from those bright, hopeful days at winter’s end.

I walked out the back door a couple days ago and noticed spring had come. We live in Florida, where the changes from one season to another aren’t as evident as up north. But I could tell it was here because everything was budding out bright green, and the sky had taken on that translucent blue color that seems different from winter skies.

Bob and I grew up in Minnesota around the Minneapolis area. We both remember how exciting it was when spring arrived back then. After a long, cold, and gloomy winter, those days of sunshine and warmer weather gave us hope that summer really would come again one day.

A lot of our memories about springtime in the 50’s and 60’s center around what was happening outdoors.

I don’t know if kids today experience this like we did. We were outside year-round, pretty much all day, and we were intimately acquainted with our yards, our blocks, and our neighborhoods. So the first signs of spring for us were things like streams of water running into the storm drains under the melting snow. Or the tiny sprouts of our mother’s perennials coming up next to the house. Everyone wanted to be the first to spot a red-breasted robin, which was a for sure sign of spring. Occasionally, we found bits of their blue eggshells on the ground under their nests after the babies hatched. We knew exactly when the buds burst out on the lilac and plum trees in our backyard. Bob dreaded the appearance of yellow dandelions in his lawn, because that meant mowing and weeding chores were coming soon.

With the arrival of warmer weather we switched from those heavy winter layers to our spring clothes.

It felt so freeing to be able to go outside without all the sweaters, woolen coats, scarves and mittens. We just threw on our windbreakers and rubber boots and ran out to play. I remember going shopping with my mom and sisters to buy new spring scarves every year. These lovely head coverings were tied under the chin and presumably kept our hair from blowing and/or our ears from getting cold. Apparently they were the height of fashion in the mid-60’s. Shelly Fabares wore one in Girl Happy, a movie she starred in with Elvis Presley.

Springtime in the 50's and 60's

It became harder and harder to keep our minds on learning when spring arrived.

The elementary schools we attended were in old buildings without air conditioning. When temperatures started to rise, teachers would open the big casement windows to let some cool air into the classrooms. The sound of birdcalls and the fresh-scented breezes blowing in could be pretty distracting. But warmer weather also brought outdoor gym time. Playing kickball or practicing for the upcoming Track and Field Day helped burn off some of our excess energy.

After Daylight Savings Time began, it was still light out at bedtime. It would be hard to go to sleep, making it even more difficult to focus in class the next day. Thankfully, by that time there were only a few more weeks of school until summer vacation – yay!

When the snow went away, out came the bikes and our freedom to roam.

We were more limited in our range during the winter when we had to walk – or trudge through the snow – to wherever we were going. But once the sidewalks and the streets were clear, we biked everywhere. To the corner store, to one of several city parks nearby, to the library, to the movie theater… I am amazed when I recall riding to a schoolmate’s house that was over a mile away. By myself. When I was in forth or fifth grade. Times sure were different then, weren’t they?

Bob recalls how being able to ride bikes again after the snow melted made his job as a paperboy a lot easier. In the winter, he had to pull his sled to where he picked up the papers. Then he walked his whole route, dragging the sled full of papers behind him. When springtime came, he was able to fly through his deliveries on his trusty bicycle. Wow! What freedom those two wheels gave us!

Springtime in the 50's and 60's paperboy on his bike

When we think back to those days, the sights, sounds, smells–the feel of the first weeks of spring come back to us like it was yesterday.

How about you? Share your memories of springtime in the 50’s and 60’s in the comments. We’d love to hear about your experiences!


  1. I remember our dad getting the screens out of the garage, spraying them off with the hose, and switching them out for the storm windows. It was a big job, there were quite a few of them. Of course, the reverse was done in the fall.

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