An American family in the mid twentieth century

Here, as a glimpse of an older world, are Irving and Charlotte Auster and their three children in the early 1950s. That’s me in the middle.



Charles T. writes:

I like the photo. Reminds me of many photos my parents have of their family in that time period as well which communicate a simpler, happier, more optimistic time. Of course, life is never perfect, but I think I would prefer the world of the 1950s to now. A dashing young man you were! Great photo.

Homer G. writes:

I enjoyed seeing the photo of your family. I turned 40 this year and all my life have been told by the powers that be that what that photograph portrays, the innocence, the happiness, the dignity, the wholesomeness, is a lie. There never was a happy time in American history, I have been told. The 1950s were nothing but a period of oppression. Our culture then was even worse than it is now because back then, people had to hide the rotten things they did, the say.

It appears you were there. What was it really like?

LA replies:

Well, as Charles said, people had problems then too, life was not perfect. But it was more optimistic, wholesome, and fun than what came later. There was a positive quality toward life. People behaved vastly better and kept themselves together in a way that was largely destroyed by the ’60s-’70s revolution.

JC writes from Houston:

I loved that family pic from the 50s, it’s just like many in my own album from that decade!

Jim C. writes:

Sweet photo; your father looks like a movie star.

LA replies:

He was famous for his looks. Once he was driving in an open car in Newark, New Jersey and was mobbed by a crowd bccause they thought he was Tyrone Power.

John Hagan writes:

My first impression upon seeing your family was one of recognition. That’s what American families used to look like. These days … not so much. Now your father looks like Cary Grant to me. I had a family member come over and look at your dad and she immediately said he looks just like Cary Grant. Wonderful picture. :)

LA writes:

The picture is not dated, and the best way to date it would be to guess how old I am in the photo, which ought to be easy to guess for a toddler, and add that to my birth year which was 1949 (January 26). But for some reason, even though I can usually tell a baby’s age pretty well, I can’t tell how old I look in this picture. My sister was ten years older than I (nine years seven months), and she looks no older than eleven here, which would mean that I am one year old in the photo. But it seems to me that I definitely look older than one.

D. in Seattle writes:

As a parent of a toddler, I’d say you look between two and three years old in that photo, probably closer to two. It looks like you have all or most of your baby teeth, so you would almost certainly have to be older than one. The shape of your face also looks more like your brother, i.e. like an older child, not like shape of face of a baby.

LA replies:

Yes, part of the reason it’s so difficult to tell my age is that I look so grown up. As though I was born with my face already formed and was never a baby. (In photos of me as an infant I don’t look like a baby, don’t look cute, but look like a serious old man.)

So let’s say I’m a bit over two here and the photo was taken in early 1951, when my sister (born June 21, 1939) had not yet turned twelve.

Mark Jaws writes:

Wow. Your father was so handsome! And I thought that I was a handsome hunk of Hebrew Homo sapiens.

Dean Ericson writes:

What a classic portrait of the 1950s and a happy American family.

Your Pops looks like Cary Grant. Your sister looks like little Miss know-it-all (in a nice way). Your brother looks like a good boy. Mom looks to be pulling away but I think she’s just leaning back to counter-balance the weight of you and your enormous forebrain. And you look happy to be the center of things. And to have blond hair. Great shot.

LA replies:

Though I wasn’t bald, my late sister used to joke with me that I looked like the futuristic alien beings in sci fi movies with high-domed, hairless heads.

Kathlene M. writes:

What an attractive family. And you were blond? I think you resemble your father (except for the facial hair) in the passport photo you posted about a month ago.

November 21

Laura G. writes:

Last summer we were in northern New Mexico, and had an astounding time-lapse experience. We decided to visit Los Alamos, of nuclear weapons fame. It is still a small town devoted to the maintenance and study of our weaponry, and as such is militarily guarded and requires permission to pass through the entry gate. Once in, it is suddenly a town from the 1950s. Local teens are mowing the yards. Local teens are extremely pleasant and polite, and are serving with great responsibility in the old-timey cafes. Everything is clean and neat. Most people are white, and clearly are employed during the day. Adolescents leave the schools dressed respectfully, with no low-hanging pants. The town has an aura of confidence and optimism. In short, it really did feel as if we were suddenly in an earlier era, and the good effects on the young were striking. The single most impressive aspect of the town was the confidence with which the local children seemed to be moving into positions in which they could assume adult responsibilities. I left with a great longing to redo the past 50 years, and wondering how we were so willing to abandon the small jobs that our own children used to have and which introduced them into the habits and pleasures of work, independence, and responsibility. Heart-breaking for most of us, and a marvel of wonderfulness for the few who live there.

November 22

Debra C. writes:

I loved your family photo, shared with us Saturday morning. It made me smile to think of your happy childhood. Your dad reminded me of a very young Peter Lawford; and you were a tow-head, as was I.

Why are some people so resentful or bitter or self-centered or just plain evil as to actively seek to deny such happiness to others? Are they blind? or deliberately destructive? No need to answer; I know: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

“But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Mrs. K. writes:

Thank you for sharing this. I love looking at photos from the 1950s. I love the architecture, clothes, hairstyles, everything — even the way the light looks. Definitely there are family resemblences here. Hopscotch from your mother’s lower face to your sister’s — the mouth, smile, and chin are the same. You, your father, and your brother all have the same chin and jawline. Right in a row. What a handsome devil your father was!

I’m so sorry you no longer have your sister. Now that our parents are both deceased, my brother is the only other person in the world I can share childhood memories with. Siblings are so precious.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 20, 2010 09:01 AM | Send

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