How Did Boomers Learn to Cook?

As we age, we inevitably look back on moments, situations and circumstances and evaluate those that had a lasting effect on our lives. For Mister Boomer, one such situation was the experience of learning how to cook.

By the time Mister Boomer and his siblings reached the age of eight, his parents urged them to first watch them make a Sunday breakfast, then to prepare a breakfast on their own. Once Mister B’s younger sister reached age eight, the kids took turns taking on Sunday morning cooking tasks, with each getting their day to take the lead.

Decisions on what to make were made by consensus. The repertoire wasn’t much, but offered some variety. There were eggs (fried, scrambled and later, omelets); pancakes; waffles; and French toast. Sides of bacon or breakfast sausage would often be included.

The Sunday morning ritual in the Boomer household was in sharp contrast to the daily breakfast routine. Mister B’s father was the first out the door, around 6:30 am, while his mother slept in. Consequently, breakfast for his father was often as many cups of coffee as he could consume in his allotted time, and on rare occasions, a slice of toast with butter. When Mister B was in third grade, he and his siblings were responsible for getting themselves up and out to school. Breakfast in the early years was often cereal and milk, and later, Carnation Instant Breakfast or Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts became part of the routine.

On Sunday, the rules changed. Typically, the day started with early church attendance. Breakfast would wait for the family’s return. After changing out of their Sunday church clothes, Mister Boomer and his siblings would either see what was on TV (like Tarzan Theater), or head to the kitchen if it was their turn. The other two kids would be on dish cleaning duty after the meal.

Mister B and his siblings each had their preferred breakfast to prepare. For Mister B, it was French toast or scrambled eggs. Brother Boomer became adept at eggs over easy, basted with leftover bacon grease from the can kept on the stove, while his sister preferred pancakes or waffles since it was easy to make the batter from the box mix.

In the 1950s, Mister B’s father cooked breakfast as often as his mother. However, the contrast between their two cooking styles could not have been more different. His mother often opted for eggs — fried, scrambled or omelets — with bacon, while his father memorably added beer to the batter to make French toast. He also took a liking to creamed chipped beef on toast in his army days, and would prepare that. No one else in the family wanted to add that to the list.

And so it went until the Boomer boys began high school, and the regularity of Sunday family breakfasts were disrupted by part-time jobs and other things to do.

How about you, boomers? What were your first experiences with learning how to cook?

Boomers Knew Hans Conried

It was sixty years ago, in January of 1963, that Fractured Flickers appeared on TV. The show only lasted one season, but its host, Hans Conried, appeared time and again in movies, TV shows and cartoons watched by boomers for decades.

The premise of Fractured Flickers was a crazy mash-up of old movie footage that was re-captioned, with a new storyline that had little, if anything, to do with what was appearing on screen. In addition to the flicker footage, the show featured often tongue-in-cheek interviews by Conried with popular TV personalities of the time, such as Barbara Eden, Bob Denver and Rod Serling.

Classically trained in theater, Conried started out performing in Shakespeare productions and Broadway shows before lending his voice to characters in radio shows in the 1930s. His huge range as both a dramatic and comedic actor, coupled with his ability to perform a multitude of accents, made him a most-sought-after actor for all types of productions. By the 1940s, he was voicing cartoon characters; he was the voice of Wally Walrus on The Woody Woodpecker Show (1944-48). Watching the cartoon in syndication may be the first time many boomers heard Hans Conried’s distinctive voice.

In 1953, Conried appeared in the Disney classic film, Peter Pan, as the voice of Captain Hook. That began an association with Disney that lasted through the 1970s. This led to roles in segments of The Magical World of Disney (starting in 1954), like the riverboat gambler named Thimblerig in Davey Crockett at the Alamo (1955).

Other cartoons where boomers heard his voice include his characterization of Snidely Whiplash on both The Dudley Do-Right Show (1959-61) and The Bullwinkle Show (1960-63). He was also the narrator on George of the Jungle (1967), and voiced several Dr. Seuss characters in animated TV specials like Horton Hears a Who! (1970).

Here is a not-so-thinly disguised version of Snidely Whiplash (still voiced by Hans Conried) repurposed for a breakfast cereal series of commercials:

Boomers also saw Hans Conried in movies, including the title role of Doctor Terwilliker in the now cult-classic, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), which happens to be the only live-action movie written by Dr. Seuss.

Conried appeared in recurring roles on several TV shows during the boomer years, most notably as Uncle Tonoose on Danny Thomas’ show, Make Room for Daddy (1953-64). His guest starring roles on a huge number of popular TV shows is also where boomers witnessed the huge talent of Hans Conried. Here is a partial list of TV shows on which he appeared:

I Love Lucy (multiple roles, 1952)
Maverick (1958)
Dragnet (1957)
The Donna Reed Show (1959)
Mister Ed (1962)
Gilligan’s Island (1964-65)
Burke’s Law (1964-65, recurring role)
Ben Casey (1965)
Lost in Space (1967)
Hogan’s Heroes (1968)
The Monkees (1968)
The Beverly Hillbillies (1968)
Daniel Boone (1968)
The Brady Bunch (1969)
Love American Style (multiple roles: 1969, 71, 72, 73)

Despite being born in 1917, Hans Conried had a ubiquitous influence in the formation of boomers’ expectations for cartoon voiceovers and comedic scenes throughout the boomer years. He passed away in 1982.

Where do you remember seeing or hearing Hans Conried, boomers?