Growing Up in the Fifties

May 22, 2012
By Mo Gaffney SILVER, Park Ridge, Illinois
Mo Gaffney SILVER, Park Ridge, Illinois
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

My Aunt, Ann Ruffato, was born in France on April 8, 1948. She is the Eldest of five. She was a child who grew up in the fifties.

What was your maiden name and where were you born?

My maiden name was Hrycyk. You spell it H-r-y-c-y-k. I was born in Lunéville, France in 1948.

When did you move from France?

I moved from France when I was six and a half years old. Before we moved my mom had two more kids, my brother John, who was 3 and a half, and my brother Michael, who was 1 and a half.

Where did you grow up in America?

I grew up in the city of Chicago, near Humboldt Park. When we first came here my godfather helped us out because my parents
had no money. When we lived with him we lived on the south side of Chicago. Within three years of living in America my parents were able to save enough money to buy a house, a three-flat. That house was near Humboldt Park around Damon and Division.

Who were you closest to as a kid?

I guess my parents. I had a bunch of little friends then too. I actually still have friends from my childhood, my girlfriend Phyllis and my girlfriend Maria. They were both cool kids (laughs), and were still friends fifty years later. It’s kind of unique.

How many siblings did you have and who were you closest to?

There was a total of five of us. There was myself, John, Michael, Vera, and Jackie. John is deceased.
I was closest to my
brother John, but when he died I began to become closer to my sister Vera and your mother, Jackie.

Did you get along with your siblings?

For the most part we did get along. I remember one time one of my brothers was trying to steal money from my piggy bank when my grandmother came in from Ukraine. My grandmother couldn’t understand why there was a knife going through the bottom of it and there was money dropping out of it. My grandmother then told me and my dad put a lock on my bedroom door, so my brother couldn’t steal money from my piggy bank anymore.

Another time my brother Michael and my sister Vera were so mad at each other (laughs). They were swearing at each other and hitting each other. Good thing I was just watching. Then my brother took one of my sister’s shoes, which was made of wood and very heavy, and threw it at her. She ducked and it broke the window behind her. I knew my parents were going to be mad.
After Michael threw the shoe, the fighting stopped.

What type of clothes did you wear in the fifties?

We wore what we had to wear (silence then laughs). All the styles were weird in the fifties. Actually those styles are coming back into style. The style is where you’re allowed to wear bright yellow pants with an orange top, kind of like neon. Even Uncle Bob wore weird pants with a shirt that clashed. The outfits he wore were pretty ugly.

When did you start school?
I started school when I was seven years old. Saint Nicholas Cathedral, the school I went to, put me back a year because I was unable to speak English. My main language at the time was French.

What were your schools like?
What were my schools like, umm, well I went to a catholic school, so we went to church every morning and the rest of the day would be like how you guys have it now. I had math, English, Science, and my favorite, recess.

Were your teachers harsher than ours now?

The teachers were harsher, probably because they were nuns (laughs). I remember one time when I was in seventh grade my friend Phyllis, who I told you about earlier, wanted to tweeze my eyebrows and tweezed a little too much, to the point where I had no eyebrows (laughs). I came to school the next day with no eyebrows. When my teacher, who was also a nun, made me kneel in front of the Blessed Virgin as my punishment for having no eyebrows (laughs).

Another time in school, well this actually happened at least once or twice a year. I would forget my homework because I would have a long night before. As my punishment the nun would whip my hands with a ruler in front of the whole class. You would think I would learn my lesson after the first time, but I didn’t. I didn’t tell my parents that the nun hit me with a ruler because then I would get in trouble at home for not doing my homework.

What were your hobbies as a kid?

There was a park near our house and I would love to play on the monkey bars in the playground and stuff like that. Also, we didn’t have as much as you guys do now; we didn’t have x-box, computers, or cell phones, but I loved exercising on those bars.

What was your favorite childhood memory?

I loved going to church on Sundays because my parents would make a special thing of it. Your grandmother tried to make excuses not to go to church back then, but now she goes every Sunday. After church we would go to Humble Park, which is still a popular park. We would meet other families there about six to eight couples and we would all hang around on Sunday.

Ann Hrycyk married Robert Ruffato and had two kids. Both her kids gave her grandchildren. She has five. She currently is living in Arlington Heights with her husband and close to both her children. She is retired from her job and comfortably living at home waiting for her husband to retire. She is still healthy and has many more years to live.

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