No Cooties!

Me 9 months and mother 1948

PHOTO: I’m the bald one looking at the boy. Guess I started early!

It’s Sunday morning around 6:30 am. WTF am I doing up so early! If there is a God,only he/she/it knows. But, I had a dream that I was in Pleasantville, dressed in pouffee skirt, high heels, bullet bra and cooking pancakes for breakfast before I mopped the floors, did laundry and ironing, all of course in high heels. BAM! that woke me up. Panting, clutching my chest—Thank GOD that was a dream. Or was it. Do I live in some parallel universe where a doppleganger is still hanging out in the 1950’s?

I remember the 50’s. I remember them fondly, but of course I was a child then and it was my mother who was the “happy homemaker.” Well, granted, she wasn’t the stereotypical 50’s mom. She looked the part with petticoats and shirtwaist dresses, high heels, garter belt and pointy boobs, and she was anything but Mrs. Father Knows best.

My mom taught me to read Tarot when I was 8. We used to play with the Ouija board when I was 6, And, I was a poker whiz by the age of 10. We didn’t go to Church. Well, I did when I could, but that’s an earlier blog. She also had jobs (cue scary music)!! Waitresses mostly, sometimes cocktail waitress. She had one job in a transvestite bar in downtown L.A. That was one of her favorite jobs. She also worked for a while as a taxi dancer. But mostly just as a waitress in what was called then “dinner houses” as opposed to family restaurants. Mom was never fond of children. She preferred cats and ghosts.

Still,  this 50’s mom did all the housework, cooking, shopping, childcare, and more with a smile and a song. Dad went to work and brought home the bacon, and of course beer and whisky too.

I guess that dream really pulled out some old memories for me and I realized how times have really changed—drastically! They say (who the hell are they anyway?) that if you put a frog in cool water and slowly turn up the temperature, it won’t feel any pain as it cooks to death. Maybe that’s not the best analogy, but you get it. Things for women have changed, but I don’t notice it all the time and go on bitching and griping about having to, damn, put the dishes in the dishwasher when I can’t bribe anyone else to do it.

I remember when it was the LAW that purses and shoes had to match. I remember garter belts and girdles. If you’re under 50, look them up in a dictionary or ask your mother or grandmother. I remember using nearly a whole can of hairspray a day. And, I remember bullet bras. So pointy and stiff, they could be used as a weapon. Madonna understands. I remember my mother saying, “Wait ‘til your father gets home!”

Dinner was always on the table for dad. Sometimes I cooked it because mom was working. Dad’s taste buds were as pickled as his brain so he liked his food simple with a lot of hot chili’s.  Fried steak and potatoes were his standard fare. I remember once, when I was a teenager in 1962 (that’s still the 50’s in society), I accidentally fried his steak in Karo syrup instead of oil. I noticed it too late so I just piled on the chili’s and plated it, then ran out of the house mumbling something about meeting a friend. He never mentioned it. Probably didn’t even notice.

In the 50’s high school kids had a class called Home Economics, sort of boot camp training for housewife hopefuls. An excerpt from one of the textbooks will have modern woman hyper-ventilating. One “must do” says that when hubby comes home from a hard day at work,  “Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lay down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.  Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes.  Speak in a low, soft, soothing and pleasant voice.  Allow him to relax and unwind. Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can relax.”

Sounds great! I want a 50’s wife. Alas, things have changed. Mostly for the better, but maybe not everything. Now a lot of women who burned their bras in the 60’s and demanded equal rights in the workplace forgot to also demand equal rights at home. I have female clients who are professionals— doctors, executives, brokers, even a hockey player who still do all of the housework, childcare, cooking, and shopping. That’s just not right, even in my doppleganger’s universe.

I am so glad to have been raised in a schizophrenic home where part of my life was typical and part was in the universe of weird. Also, being born in 1948, my life bridged the Pleasantville era with the “Woodstock” awakening, the Vietnam War protests, the sexual revolution, and flower power, who’s motto was get high and drop out.

Now too many of the hippies who were so sure that the world was going to end and that Peace and Love were the only ways to save it are now in Congress or retired mortgage bankers. So much for the mighty love revolution.


What’s your story? One foot in the 50’s? All 21st Century? Married with children? Love your life? Hate your life but don’t know how to break out and become the potato artist you know is locked inside? Ex-hippie like me who still wears peasant blouses and bell bottom pants? Oh wait, those are back in style aren’t they? Still toke up when the kids aren’t watching? What’s on your iPod (or equivalent)? Any oldy but moldy tracks from Joplin, Hendrix? Or Chubby Checker, Pat Boone, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra?

Are the 50’s and 60’s still alive somewhere, even if you are only 23 years old? Remember also that the 60’s really happened in the 70’s and if you remember them all, you weren’t there.

Life’s a gas if you don’t go ape. Groovy. Got to boogie now. OMG! I’m glad it’s 2009. Or am I?



About anitaburns

Confetti Head: My life of change, and color, weirdness, and fun. From the colorful days of Hippie, to all night rocker parties, to married life, contemplation, meditation, and more. My life has been blessedly full and rich. Anita's Real Food: I have loved cooking since my first Easy Bake Oven when I was four. I bake, cook, invent, share, and eat. Enjoy my Real Food Blog. Astrology Learning and Secrets: LIttle-known facets or a deeper dive into the wonderful world of Astrology
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9 Responses to No Cooties!

  1. Michael says:

    Ohhhhh, this is going to be fun. I wish I could color code my reply and stuff it between the lines of your story. Reading what you said puts me into a Monty Python skit where the ending statement was, “Now you tell the kids how it was and they would never believe you – – – nope, nope.”

    After I send you mine, I am going to get Tulita’s point of view for 1927. That ought to put us in our places. One of my favorite stories, she told me was when she was a little girl she went to school with a girl friend. The way that they went took them through orchards. Just about every morning, they could see a man by a shed, doing something funny with his zipper. They asked the teacher about it and the man got taken away. Well, I guess that some things were not so different.


    • anitaburns says:

      Ahh. A little Zipper music, EH? I met one of them when I was in 4th grade. Ran away just like mom said I should do.

      Can’t wait to hear your story and Tulita’s. BTW, speaking of the 1930’s, did you guys see the movie Kit Kittredge, American Girl? Very bodaciously good.



  2. Michael says:


    Your title reminds me of what my brother, John, is up to. He is a vet and is now in the VFW. Since he joined he now goes to VA Hospitals to visit vets who are there. His majority of time is spent with those who are terminal. Anyway, they call such helpers “Cooties.” I will have to ask him about why they are called Cooties – – – – – ahhhhh “Old Coots.”


    • anitaburns says:

      According to Wikipedia, the world’s most reliable resource (snark), Cooties is a non-scientific term in North American English used by children for a disease or condition perceived to infect others members of the opposite sex. One catches cooties through any form of bodily contact, proximity, or touching an infected person. The phase typically passes by age 5-14.

      The word showed up in World War I to indicate body vermin.


  3. Gale Bryan says:

    No cooties
    Well Anita, no you are not entirely alone. I am reading your blogs. You actually are quite a good writer and funny too.
    I often wonder where the hippies went. The “give peace a chance” idea was really a good one. Where are these people when you really need them. I never imagined we’d be in another war like Vietnam, with all of the war protesters still alive. But maybe they all moved to Canada. I am earnestly trying to create the reality I want and ignore what apparently the masses want. I think I need some better rose colored glasses, not the little square ones like the Byrds or John Lennon had. Actually, what I really need is that looking glass Hobo Kelly had, so I can see all the future possibilities out there. That and a tall glass of ovaltine.


    • anitaburns says:

      Ovaltine! I haven’t thought about that in many moons. Now, thanks, all sorts of stuff is flooding my brain. OH NO! The 50’s dam is broken. N E S T L E S, Nestles makes the verry best Chooocolate. Snap. It’s Howdy Doody time, It’s Howdy Doody time, blah blahblah tum tedum, ta ra ra doodydum. Th-th-th-that’s all folks! AAAGGHH! Okay, I plugged the dam again. The world is safe again.



  4. sherry says:

    Dear Anita
    What is a taxi dancer?
    Love your blogs and you are funny. I do remember cooties. I still use that term believe it or not. I also wear bell bottoms, some tie die and really cannot get myself to wear a flat hair style. Good thing they just invented the bumpit…ha ha ha get one at wall greens its the newest and the coolest.
    I grew up in southern california born in 1952. Just like your family we had dinner at 6:00 p.m. sharp. Some favorite dishes were…goolosh, taco’s (american sytle with catsup) 7 layer caseraole, ham hocks and beans, chili, enchalada pie, pot roast, steak (round) and fried potatoes. Veggies included the dreaded cold red Beets (to this day they make me gagg when I see them) and of course lots of green beans. My dads snacks were—
    Beer and tomatoe juice, that washed down either chocolate peanut clusters (which he would count to make sure we did not sneek any) and the totally gross (sorry dad) sardines and crackers. I don’t think I really had a real coke until I was about 16…Shasta cola was our drink along with kool aide…lots of it. Iced tea too.
    We grew up with t.v. shows that to this day when I think of them, I think about the way dad would fall asleep on his favorite arm chair, only to magicallly awaken as I tried to watch Bonaza (it was on at 9:00 p.m. on Sunday nights which until I was 18, this was my bedtime). Yes I did get to date, Friday and Saturdays…curfew was 11:00 p.m.
    Dad’s favorite shows…Laugh In, Hee Haw (uck) and Bill Borrads’ travel show.
    My mother, when I think of her I think of white go go boots and short mini skirt. My mother was so cute and a swinging 60’s girl. She looked alot like Annette . She could outdance just about anybody.
    Opps this got away from me. Sorry.. sweet memories
    Luv and huggs


    • anitaburns says:

      Hi Sherry,
      Thanks for the great insight into your life. We also had crispy, well mostly greasy, hamburger tacos with catsup. My mother made a mean pot roast, still my favorite, and a tamale pie that I make now. Taxi dancer is something that went out in the late 50’s. Dance halls hired women to be dance partners for single men who would come in and pay a nominal fee to dance. Eventually, it was taken over by prostitution and died out. Mom liked Lawrence Welk and we all watched Bonanza. Manual channel changer of course. And, I’m just remembering, we had one telephone in the house. Black, dial, and hard wired to the wall. Cell phones? Science fiction.



  5. Michael says:

    Oh yes, Ananke. Didn’t he become Darth Vader?

    Anita, I am so proud of you. I once had the proud experience with talking to a young lady who was troubled by the suicide of her boy friend. It was at that point when I became a true elder.

    We talked often over a period of about two years. After that she told me that she was in an advance accelerated program at her high school. Her special class was held at one of the local universities. She asked me if I would like to give a talk to her class about my (your) view of the possible workings of the cosmos.

    What an experience!!!! They were so hungry for something to think about with regard to their lives and wow! even a choice of paths that was theirs to choose.

    After the class they would not let me go. “What has my life been like?” “What advice to I have to go on from here?” I was very impresses with so many bright young people who had not been damaged by dogma.

    Well, you know what that is like but I still applaud you for your continuing efforts to release those who have been penned in.



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