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7 things we loved growing up in the 50s and 60s

Posted on 15 January 2018

It’s true what they say – they don’t make them like they used to. Whether it’s music, clothes – or childhoods. For kids today, the thought of growing up without computers, a phone or video games might seem crazy, but we know we had it good! See our top 7 memories of growing up for the recipe to a happy childhood.

Playing outside until it went dark

It’s hard to believe that only a few decades ago we were free to roam around outside completely unsupervised, and our parents never had to worry. We’d be off for hours on end with no way of letting mum know where we were – and we’d only pop home for a quick snack or a plaster for yet another grazed knee. We were outdoors come snow or shine, with bare legs whatever the temperature. But it must have been too cold for cameras on those days our legs turned blue. Photos of the time always make it look like the weather was as lovely then as our memories are now.

three young girls playing on the pavement
Heritage Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Imagination was our favourite toy

Our imaginations meant adventure was everywhere. Parks, fields and streets became jungles, battlefields and racetracks. There was fun to be had wherever we went. Pavements for hopscotch, walls for ball games and handstands. Railings for clambering on or tying skipping ropes to. And big open spaces for mass games of tag, British bulldog and kiss chase.

young boy hanging from a lamp post
Heritage Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Fun was homemade

Toys were very often homemade. Like dad’s hand-crafted doll’s house and second-hand pram wheels on go-carts – while mums and daughters made teddy bears from old fabric. We’d turn pieces of rope into a skipping game, wage war with conkers, hold snail races, and spend hours concocting perfume from rose petals.

girl and boy painting eggs
INTERFOTO / Alamy Stock Photo

We were explorers and adventurers

We explored our home territory and knew it inside out. Climbing trees, paddling in streams and daring missions into deserted buildings. Statues, railings, walls – anything in our path had to be climbed. And just when you were in danger of getting bored, you’d spot something else to conquer and declare yourself ‘king of the castle’ to all those dirty rascals left below. On a bicycle or on foot, we’d explore every inch of the local area, scanning every pond and river for minnows, newts and tadpoles to show off in a jam jar. Saturday morning cowboy and war films would be re-enacted with homemade bows and arrows and bits of branch for guns.

young boy and girl sitting in a tent
GP Library Limited / Alamy Stock Photo

We weren’t afraid of mud

Muddy puddles were perfect for splashing in, thick mud was for making pies, and then there was mud just for getting muddy. If it was there, we couldn’t ignore it. Mum never felt the same way though, did she? There was no adult supervision other than the park attendant who came in handy for a plaster now and then.

two young boys playing in the mud
Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

Mum made all our favourite food

Even after rationing ended, the ‘waste not want not’ attitude lived on. There was never a morsel left on the plate and leftovers were a way of life. Remember bubble and squeak, pies filled with meat from the Sunday joint and trifle made with stale cake? Oh, and lots of dads had a patch in the garden where they’d grow everything from carrots to gooseberries. Home-grown fruit and vegetables always tasted sweeter.

two young boys eating at the table
INTERFOTO / Alamy Stock Photo

…and the odd treat!

The local sweet shop was the most magical place. There were so many jars, and so much choice. Window shopping was a serious business. Some years, a 2oz chocolate bar at Christmas was as good as it got. And no trip to the seaside was complete without a stick of rock or a huge ball of candy floss. Even today, the smell of hot sugar triggers thoughts of donkey rides, dad paddling in his jacket and soggy, knitted bathing suits.

two young girls eating candy floss by the sea
Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

If this article took you back to simpler times and you’re in the mood for more, you might also like reading about memories of a post war childhood, the 1950s home and earning your first bob as a kid.

SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50s life insurance, funeral plans, life insurance, equity release, pet insurance, home insurance, car insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

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Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Phoenix Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 110418). As part of SunLife’s commitment to quality service and security, telephone calls may be recorded.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

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