Saturday, January 25, 2014


1955, and the summer dress code was dungarees (they weren’t called jeans then) with the cuffs folded to create a pegged pants look, and a white tee shirt with rolled up sleeves and a pack of cigarettes folded into one of them.  If you were not wearing machine boots you had on penny loafers –with socks.  The look of the fifties has been well documented. albeit exaggerated, on TV and in the movies.

For a teenager without a drivers license there was not much too do on summer evenings in a rural town of 3000 people except hang out, and we had a great place to do just that…Bob White’s custard and pizza stand.  The building was small, you ordered from the outside, but attached to its right side was a covered patio with tables, chairs, and a jukebox, everything a group of teenagers needed to entertain themselves for an hour or two.  Our gatherings varied from as few as 3 or 4 of us to as many as 8-10.  We were not rowdy and the worst thing we did was dance, which wasn’t allowed (something to do with the stand’s business license).

Landisville’s “downtown” stretched for about ¾ mile along US Highway 40 (Harding Highway in our township) and included a drugstore, several restaurants and taverns, a movie theater, several gas stations, and a few other assorted local business, including BW’s custard and pizza stand on the eastern part of town.  US 40, one of early coast-to-coast highways, was about ¼ mile from our farm.  If I drove from our house to the highway and turned right I could be in Philadelphia in an hour; if I turned left, one hour would find me in Atlantic City.  In 1955 this was the most direct route from Philadelphia to the popular Jersey shore - Atlantic City, Wildwood, Ocean City, and Cape May.  This meant slow, bumper-to- bumper traffic through our town on summer weekends, especially Friday and Sunday evenings.  The traffic was our entertainment as well as our audience.  Looking back on those summer evenings, sitting outside and listening to the music, just a stones throw from the cars slowly making their way through town, I can see how we played to the people looking at us through open windows.   I don’t think it had anything to do with trying to impress these strangers or to prove anything to ourselves.  We were teenagers who simply wanted to be what we thought we  Not for anyone’s sake but our own.  And we did this while we ate our subs and/or pizza, drank soda, smoked cigarettes, and listened to the music.  There was no beer, no fighting, and no loud cars racing around town, just a group of friends who shared the same classrooms since age 5 looking for a way to have fun.

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