Life in the 1940's - 50's

Bring On the Baby Boomers

Life for the Mayers was typical for families at that time. Bernie was a salesman for Golden State Dairy and Dorothy worked for the city of Oakland. Grandmother Evelyn had previously worked in a Texas department store, the Pentagon, and as a county supervisor of the WPA. Now her organizational skills were put to work caring for the children in their home while Dorothy and Bernie worked during the week. Grandmother Evelyn, a talented seamstress, also made many of the girl's clothes.

Pat enjoyed spending her early years growing up in San Lorenzo. When it came time for her to start kindergarten along with many other babyboomers in 1950, there were so many children that she had to attend class in the basement of the neighborhood church. By the time she was in second grade, she was able to walk home for lunch. If she was lucky, her Uncle Jimmy Cleveland would eat with her while he took a lunchbreak from his Golden State Dairy milk delivery route. Nancy would trade him her cookies for cottage cheese. Sometimes he would take Pat for a ride around the block in his big milk truck while the bottles jingled against the metal milk boxes. Pat's best friend, Valerie McCleary, and her sister Pam, lived just around the corner. The Teasley girls, who lived next door, would pass along their hand-me-downs, while their mother, Mabel, had the best job of all: she worked in a candy store.

Golden State Dairy crew: Bernie - first row, 1st dark suit on left. Vern Sprott- first row, second from the right.

What Life Was Like Back Then...

By 1950, The American population had grown to 150.6 million. These folks were able to enjoy new forms of entertainment which would becomes staples of American lives during that era. Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang made their comic strip debut. 88% of all households had television sets that could tune in the popular shows such as I Love Lucy, Jack LaLanne, the Roy Rogers Show, the Texaco Star Theater starring Milton Berle, Captian Kangaroo, Davey Crockett, and Gunsmoke. By 1952, they could even eat at Swanson's T.V. dinner on a T.V. tray while watching their favorite show. Television made an impact on the American political scene as the first presidential inaugaration was televised across the nation. It was the first time that so many people were able to watch a President take the oath of office  - and right from their living rooms! The modern era ushered Dwight D. Eisenhower into the Oval Office.

See the links on the "Additions and News" page for links to TV shows, songs and commercials from that time.
Dad and his 3 girls.
The girls with Dad in southern California.
Fishing in Clear Lake
Watermelon on a summer day with his girls.
Pat and Nancy after a skating lesson with Dad.

Move to Fremont

Dorothy and neighbor Barbara Sprott putting together a high chair for the new baby.

In March of 1955, they sold the house in San Lorenzo and moved to a larger, more modern home in the new Glenmoor development of the east bay suburb known as Centerville  - which later incorporated into the city of Fremont. When they moved, the children were still young. Pat was in the the 5th grade at Centerville School. Nancy was a 2nd grader and Margaret was a kindergartener at Norris School.

Brayton Street turned out to be a good move for the family. The Mayers were lucky to have found a home on a court with wonderful neighbors who would be friends throught the years. Bernie knew Vern Sprott from the Golden State Dairy. Vern and his wife Barbara and small daughter, Judy, moved in across the street. Also on the block were Lee and Barbara Ferrell, the Stantons, and the Ruthenbecks. A few years later, the Duartes and the Plunketts moved into the houses next door on  either side.

Bernie, Dorothy and the girls explored  many of California's recreational areas on their vacations. Some of their favorite destinations included Clear lake, the Eel River in the Redwoods, the Russian River, Ettawa Springs, Yosemite, and Lake Almanore.

Visitors from out of town were also welcomed! Dorothy's sister, Bernice Sunbury, came from Texas for a summer visit accompanied by her husband Tom and children Karen, Jeff, Beth, and Warren. Together, the seven young children took their parents to southern California's newest and greatest attraction, Disneyland!  They all had a wonderful time with Beth throwing away one of her shoes being the only mishap.


In 1958, the United States plunged into the Space Age, just a year after the Soviets launched Sputnik. New fads were taking overAmerican pastimes such as hip swinging with a hoola hoop, wearing 3-D glasses, and listening to the music of Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry, and the Kingston trio. Parents rested easier knowing that their children had been given Salk's polio vaccine. The mayers would have agreed that California was the place to be, even the Dodgers and Giants had just moved out west.

1958 was a year of fresh beginnings for the Mayers. Nancy was 11, Margaret was 9, and Pat had just celebrated her 14th birthday when, on November 14, a fourth daughter named Jan was added to the family.


Bernie and daughter #4 (Jan)
Pat, Nancy and Margaret pose on Easter at the Brayton Street front door.
The 3 girls
Standing in the San Lorenzo backyard.