1950 Memories of Suburban Adventures

David Laughs Last

Few things made me happier than being the one enjoying the last laugh, and rubbing it in way too much. But every now and then, the stars fell out of alignment, causing someone else to enjoy the last laugh privilege at my expense. Boy, did that get my dander up.

At night, David and I often got together in one of our bedrooms, talking instead of sleeping. After multiple warnings to be quiet, we whispered more softly. If the sound of Dad’s snapping leather belt came down the hallway, we pretended to be fast asleep. Dad never used it, but who knew when he might start.

Our main form of discipline was being sent to our separate rooms (no televisions, game systems, or phones in kid’s bedrooms in the 50s). We cupped our hands around an ear and held it against the connecting wall in our closets to quietly talk back and forth. After seeing it done on television, we pressed a drinking glass against the wall to magnify the sound.

While sorting through a stack of old paperwork, Dad found a copy of the Morse code alphabet. David and I carefully copied the codes onto two sheets of paper. We tapped closet-to-closet messages without great success. Our tapping suffered several problems. Our spelling was open to interpretation, we forgot to pause between words, and it was impossible to distinguish between a dot and a dash.

During one incarceration we were mad at each other. Without any wall-talking I got bored and looked around for something to do. I opened my window, popped the screen out, hung over the edge, and dropped down. I stood under David’s window and quietly called to him.

David and me, standing by my bedroom window a year or two earlier.

David and me, standing by my bedroom window a year or two earlier.

“Hey, David, look out your window.”

I waited. Nothing. I picked up a few tiny stones and tossed them against his window.

When he appeared, I danced around singing, “Naa, naa, I’m out and you’re in.”

“You’re going to get into trouble,” he replied.

“You’re jealous because you’re afraid to jump out.”

“No, I’m not afraid,” he answered. “I just know I can go out in few more minutes without getting into trouble.”

Hmmm, he had a point. Well, he wasn’t raining on my parade. I did a row of somersaults and cartwheels, demonstrating how much fun I was having.

After a few minutes of watching my antics, he asked, “How’re you going to get back inside, smarty pants?”

I rolled my eyes toward the bottom of my window; a foot beyond my reach. I jumped up repeatedly, but couldn’t get a handhold on the window sill. I looked back at David, meaning to ask him to sneak into my room and help pull me in.

His wasn’t the face in his window anymore, Mom’s was.

A few minutes later I sat in my room while David called from under my window, “Hey Mary, who’s outside now?”

Lessons learned: He who laughs last, laughs best, still wasn’t fun unless I’m last. And always look before you leap.

Related post: Innocent Villian/Special Delivery

Now it’s your turn: Did you ever climb out your bedroom window?


© Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures, 2012 forward. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Emily says:

    Aww, I love this memory 🙂

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Thanks, Emily. I don’t regret climbing out the window, but wish I’d waited until I was a little taller. Or maybe I should have lowered a chair down first.

  2. Val Mills says:

    Climbing out windows and leather straps – yes to both memories, both more often than I care to admit.

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Uh oh, Val. Sounds like you were a bit of a bad seed, too. I can still hear Dad’s belt, folded in half, snapping as he walked down the hall. He only used it once (sparingly) many years later. The sound alone was enough to scare the beejeesum out of us.

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