Share Your Memories

While you are encouraged to add comments after each chapter summary, this is a page for all of you to share your memories or provide facts about the 1950s. Let’s form a community of ’50s Retro Readers!

  • Residents and former residents of Mount Vernon and Knox County, people from Ohio, the Midwest, Virginia and anywhere.
  • Family, friends and associates who knew Vernon Johnson, have his paintings or wish they had a painting.
  • Baby Boomers
  • ’50s retro lovers, people with great ’50s cars, collectors of ’50s design and just plain kitsch
  • Historians of ’50s art, culture and commerce

Share your memories right here!

13 Responses to Share Your Memories

  1. Ann Kahrl Laudeman says:

    Growing up in Mount Vernon we were outdoors as much as possible in the summer for neighborhood games, riding bikes to the swimming pool, and sharing yard work or ploaying in the sandbox when we were younger; in the winter for sledding, walking to school,and building snow sculpures like forts and snowmen; in the fall for raking leaves to jump in them, then burning them to roast marshmallows; in the spring to celebrate the return of warm temperatures, spring flowers with April showers, and making whistles out of maple seed helicopters. We walked downtown for the movies, donuts or ice cream. We rode our bikes to the Y and the swimming pool, even to Gambier on Lower Gambier or New Gambier Roads when they were still dirt with no paving. We knew to be cautious of strangers but the bigger “fear” was people’s dogs that weren’t tied up and would come barking at us as we whizzed by! We sold lemonade in front of our house so we could go to Kresge’s downtown and buy squirtguns or balloons for water bombs. This wasn’t a fantasy, this was real life that some kids still enjoy today when they get the opportunity to go outside and love it as children without the anxieties many adults have of dirt, germs, cuts and scrapes. I still get mosquito bites and learn to live with it when I go camping or even gardening this summer!

  2. Ann, thanks for being the first one to comment!

  3. Mary Ward Scott says:

    When I think of my childhood the first image that comes to mind is the rural roads of Mt. Vernon, Ohio. I grew up on a lazy country road a mile and a half from town. Many times each week I would walk from my house on Edgewood Road to town. I had my choice of walking Gambier Road, Vine Street or High Street. Usually I chose Vine Street because there were sidewalks and lots of shade.

    Last week I returned to Mt. Vernon to attend my first class reunion in 45 years. Many people never return for what ever reason and I must confess that coming back home after all those years required some courage. After all, time has changed us all and I could not help but wondering if my friends and colleagues would think the years had been good to me.

    I returned to Mt. Vernon solely for the purpose of talking about a book written by my childhood friend Janis Johnson. Janis and I grew up on the same lazy quiet country road and our parents were friends. In fact, her father, Vernon Johnson, painted a picture of a Mt. Vernon scene to give to my parents when they moved from Corning, New York to Mt. Vernon. What a way to be welcomed to the city!

    Over the years my family has all moved away from Mt. Vernon but the painting stayed with us–from Mt. Vernon to Chattanooga, TN, and now it resides in my home in New Jersey. More importantly, this very painting has connected me back to Mt., Vernon and has given me the courage to return to my high school class after all these years.

    As I pulled into town, I wondered why I had stayed away so long. Friday night was a meet and greet at the Alcove and I was overwhelmed with the warm loving greeting I received. I felt as though my classmates had missed me and were glad to see me back. The next morning, my husband and I walked from town to Edgewood Road. This time we took all three streets. We started on High Street and, as in the past, when we got to where Dr. Deely used to live, we cut over to Vine. We walked up the Vine Street hill and I thought of the many times I rode my bike up and down the hill and sledded as well. As we walked up the hill, I pointed out where I babysat and where my parents’ friends lived. As we approached the top of the hill, I realized Edgewood Road was no longer a lazy country road but a major cut through from Gambier Road. We walked with caution down to our house and made our way to Gambier Street,.

    While my friends have moved on from those lazy school days of our childhood in a small Ohio town, the Vernon Johnson painting has remained my connection to Mt. Vernon. I am incredibly grateful that a simple welcome gift given to my parents has helped me reconnect with so many childhood friends and my hometown.

    Mary Ward Scott-Class of 1965

    • Mary, thank you so much for your generous thoughts. Your re-engagement with Mount Vernon has brought many gifts to many people, including me. We are so lucky to have had this era, this community, these families and friends as part of our heritage. Plus, you have one of my favorite paintings of Dad’s! I am pleased that through these activities we are building an online community of ’50s small town fans. Janis

  4. The cover is exquisite. I was born in the early 50s when Malta was still in early recovery from the devastating bombings of WWII. We had ration cards until I was in my 20s! The fifties were full of energy and hope, building, and re-shaping, so politics and the economy affected my young life in no uncertain way. The music was important, and together with tastes and smells, still has the power to haul me back with a jolt to the times when knitted jumpers, hems that could be let down, replacing elastic in knickers, dripping, and the absolute wonder at transistor radios and batteries were part and parcel of our lives. Well done, Janis.

  5. Janis, a year later and I still marvel at the extraordinary story you have told and illustrated about your father’s work and the town he memorialized in his art.

    As for memories, our children’s generation would be shocked to know that it was improper in the 50s to wear jeans downtime or to know that we could wander safely from morning to evening in our neighborhoods. I remember summer days where we’d bolt from the house after breakfast, return briefly for lunch, and stay out until we heard a call for dinner. In the hours between, we built moss villages under oak trees, played circus on our swing sets, and sat in neighbors’ lawn making dandelion jewelry.

    My brother and I were able to go down to Rudin’s on Sunday afternoons while our father Walter would fix the store clock or check on a water leak. The whole dark, empty store would be our playground where we could talk to mannequins, explore the basement storage room, and wonder at the mountain of merchandise ready to be unpacked and displayed.

    Every generation has it fond memories special to the time. Blessings again for giving us a vehicle to raise those memories!

  6. Patti, this is not only a beautiful sentiment but also serendipitous — the fact that those of us connected by our small town experiences in our youth could at any moment in time reconnect in such meaningful ways. That is the foundation of small towns — wherever we are, the enduring nature of our relationships, unvarnished by age and experience. Thank you for sharing your memories — and our memories!

  7. Kathy Tidd says:

    Janis,I came across, what I believe, is an original landscape of your fathers and bought it without knowing anything of him or his work. After bit of research, I feel I’ve gotten to know the artist (a bit.) Thank you. I love water colors, and these warm autumn tones are warm and inviting. I grew up in a small town in Ohio, and feel honored to have such a treasure. It’s dated 1959. Is there a link or web site where I could see more of his work? I could send an image of this one, if you would like to see it. Thank you again for sharing such a universal bit if Americana with us.

    • Hi, Kathy, I am continuing to track down VPJ paintings. Did you send me a photo of this or other information about how you discovered it? I would like to have more information for the research we are doing for Mount Vernon, Ohio and small Ohio towns. I look forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Janis

      • Hi, Kathy, I found your email with all the details and photos – thank you so much! I will be updating this blog soon and will have more to share. Best regards, Janis

  8. Lana Rhoads says:

    what fun to look back at my childhood days in Mt. Vernon through writings of you and other residents. Although I was only five and six years old I remember vividly the large house we lived in while my father and uncle farmed the fields surrounding it. I believe it was owned by a Dr. Miller who had something to do with soybeans. It was located a few miles from town just off the highway leading to Fredricktown. On my first day of school, in 1949, the teacher, Mrs. Bolton, told the town children to line up to go home for lunch, I lined up with them and walked all the way home from Fourth Ward School. At five years of age it was quite an adventure! Now, 65 years later it is on my bucket list to visit Mt. Vernon.

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