In the grand scheme of things, the world really hasn't changed all that much. And yet, we are absolutely infatuated with the past. This is because, in our perspective, life has altered greatly. Sure, if you take a higher perspective, it hasn't. But to our self-absorbed species, 70 years feels like a lifetime ago. And, in some cases, the favorite pastimes of the 1950s do feel a little foreign. A typical afternoon for a child back then doesn't really appear the same as it does today. At least, on the surface, anyway.
To tickle our readers' appetite for the past, we've compiled a list of some of the most uniquely vintage photos of after-school and weekend activities that children would partake in the 1950s. One won't find video games or other technological pursuits. It was the simpler things that ruled back then. Some of these images may cause readers to feel a little nostalgic, even if they themselves never experienced such activities. After all, they can be quite appealing for multiple reasons. On the other hand, they may feel happy that their kids don't have to resort to the same lifestyle. Without further ado, here are 24 Pics Of Forgotten After School Activities That Were Popular In The 50s.
24 Casual Chess Challenges
Chess seems like something that's quite archaic in terms of pastimes. This is with the exception of niche-fans and notable celebrity players such as Howard Stern, Julia Roberts, and Chuck Norris; not to mention the savants that sit in parks and wait for their next adversary. But, in the 1950s, chess was a pastime that many children and young adults enjoyed. It helped them work on their strategy skills as well as helped their minds become slightly more mathematical. This image shows us that chess was a game that could be taken almost anywhere.
23 The Latest Comic Books
Nowadays, it's comic-book movies that take-up a larger quantity of the time of young people, not to mention older people as well. But back in the 1950s, the comics that influenced movies like The Avengers, The Dark Knight, and Superman were what most kids spent their time on. But it wasn't just superheroes that dominated the comics, stories like Charlie Brown, Land of Black and Gold, Wyatt Earp, Marmaduke, and Dennis The Menace were also beloved. Just look at how engrossed this young man is with his comics. Beautifully illustrated stories could keep someone like him engrossed for hours on end.
22 Marble Collecting
Marbles were something that was popular for ages. They weren't necessarily something that was specific to the 1950s since they had been popular since Medieval times. But kids continued to find inventive ways of using these colorful balls. As we can see in this image, the children are using their marbles kind of like curling. Marbles were also something that was traded and won in games like the one depicted in this vintage photo. Of course, we seldom see marbles nowadays. The only exception is as decorative pieces. They certainly aren't a favorite pastime for most kids anymore.
21 An Assortment Of Playing Card Games
This beautiful photo from 1958 depicts a couple of young men playing a card game in a doorway of an older house. Not only if the image particularly striking and unique, but it also shows us just how popular card games were back in the 1950s. They were something that could be taken anywhere, as well as providing a variety of different games to play. Of course, cards aren't a thing of the past, but they certainly aren't as popular among kids as they were back then. Kids now don't run home just to play their siblings in go-fish.
20 Listening To The Radio
Back in the 1950s, T.V.s were just starting to become popular. But they weren't something that was yet in everyone's homes. This is one of the reasons why radio was such a commodity back then. As we can see in this image, it was the centerpiece of most homes. Not only did it provide easy access to the news, but it also offered music and a variety of programs that kids could enjoy. Nowadays, those who listen to radio are pretty much adults who need it for quick traffic-reports or who adore Howard Stern and the musical selections of Sirius XM. But back in the 1950s, kids enjoyed it immensely and would sit in front of it like we would our televisions in the 1990s.
19 Tuning In For T.V.
This vintage photo more than accurately captures just how important T.Vs were to young people, as well as their parents, in the 1950s. Tuning in to a television program was an event. It was something that children would literally rush home to do. As we can see in this image, it was also a favorite family pastime. Although Netflix does offer a similar feeling, there's also far more kid's shows today than there were back then. In the 1950s, kids would tune into programs that were made for their parents but were still appropriate for themselves.
Whatever happened to leap-frog? It seems like this favorite 1950s children's pastime is something that truly disappeared after this decade was over. It feels like something that hasn't happened since. Chances are, you haven't seen kids do anything like what's being depicted in this image.
For those who don't know, leap-frog is a simple game where kids jump over one another repeatedly. It could be played anywhere. As we can see here, it's a game that kids would even play in the streets; another thing that wouldn't take place today.
17 Polio Treatments
Here's a bit of a curve-ball for you; polio-treatments were also a popular after-school pastime for kids in the 1950s. Of course, it wasn't something that they necessarily enjoyed. But it was necessary. After the 1950s, polio decreased drastically since the remedies for it were very effective.
As we can see in this photo, the treatment process was positively medieval. It doesn't look like fun for anyone. And yet, it was so common that a lot of children just got used to it. The kids in this image don't seem to be too bothered by it.
16 Constructing Card Castles
Earlier on this list, we saw just how engaged children were with playing cards. In this vintage image from the 1950s, we see that cards were something used for more than just games. Building structures out of cards were something that kids in the 1950s loved to do. As we can see here, children could show-off just how skilled they could be with balancing, as well as architecture. Just look at how engaged this kid's siblings seem in the photo. After all, the tower that this youngster is constructing is pretty impressive.
15 Hula Hoop Twirling
There's a reason why Alvin and the Chipmunks sung about receiving a holla-hoop in their famous Christmas song. This is because hula-hoops were immensely popular among children. Sure, we still occasionally see them. But there's no way that anyone could argue that they are as popular as they once were.
This image was taken in Japan in the 1950s and proves that hula-hoops were just something that the Western world enjoyed. Kids all over the planet would work these things into their after-school activities.
14 After School Dances
For older kids, as well as young adults, after-school dances (otherwise known as "sock hops") were incredibly popular. Nowadays, mostly young adults take part in activities of this nature and it usually includes some form of alcohol. But this wasn't the case back then. Kids would simply go to their school gymnasium, or the local club and enjoy PG dancing and new tunes. This image shows a slightly older crowd at Brigham Young University taking part in a wholesome after-school activity.
13 Listening Booths At The Record Store
How we consume music is a lot different than how young people did it in the 1950s. As we can see depicted in this wonderful vintage image from the 1950s, young people would gather at record stores to sample some of the new tunes. If they liked them, they would then purchase them and play them at home on their record players.
These individual record booths seem like something out of an alternative future, but they were indeed quite popular among young people, as well as adults, back in the 1950s.
12 Baseball Card Collecting
Boys and girls of all ages adored collecting and trading baseballs cards in the 1950s. Little did they know, some of them (if kept in good condition) would end up being worth quite a bit of money one day. Of course, this probably isn't what's on the mind of this young man. He probably is just so thrilled that he has a couple of the cards depicting his favorite players in his hands. We can also tell that he is a wannabe baseball player himself, a trait that isn't abnormal nowadays.
11 Playing On Random Street Corners
This vintage photo, taken in 1954 of children playing on a random street-corner in Belfast, provides a wonderful look inside the lives of the kids of that time. Just look at how mischievous these boys appear. The probably should be, as the entire neighborhood was their oyster. Of course, you'd seldom find an image like this nowadays. For the most part, parents are just unwilling to let their young ones play this way. It doesn't matter if they were in a group like this one or on their own, it just wouldn't happen.
10 Soapbox Races
Soapbox racing is another after-school activity that you just don't see anymore. It would appear quite strange nowadays since parents seem to be a little more careful when it comes to their children's physical safety. And Lord knows that soapbox racing could be a bit on the risky side. After all, it does involve kids traveling down hills at high speeds with nothing but a metal shell encasing them. But look at how much fun these kids appear to be having. The cars themselves also appear to be beautifully constructed and not like anything we would see nowadays.
9 Bike Races
Kids still ride bikes, but certainly not to the extent that they did in the 1950s. Of course, this was a time when they could use their bikes to travel anywhere in the neighborhood and not have to worry about their parents attempting to track their every move. Bikes equaled freedom.
Additionally, the 1950s was a time when bike racing was more popular. Just look at this image from 1957. It seems like an event that kids rushed to after school, even if they were just spectators. There's a real beauty to kids enjoying something so pure and simple.
8 Neighborhood Hopscotch
Nowadays, one might see a hopscotch design fading away on the concrete of an elementary school playground. But they aren't likely to find kids out on a busy street playing it. Hopscotch was something that was far more popular back in the 1950s than it is today.
Although an adult was bound to have taken this photograph, there's no telling if they were actually these kids' guardian. In all likelihood, these girls simply gathered afterschool to jump around on the stone slabs of their neighboorhood.
7 Schoolyard Boxing
There's so much about this image that's foreign to so many of us. It looks like something out of a movie. The image is moody and tells us so much about the children and their socioeconomic class. The image was taken in 1955 in London and features some after-school boxing with minimal padding. Additionally, the kids look a tad too young to be engaging in such a physical sport. At least, that might be the perspective of parents nowadays who would never let their kids do this. None-the-less, this activity appears to have been mighty popular in the 1950s.
It seems so odd that kids would take such enjoyment out of watching other kids play checkers, of any variety. But playing and watching a game of checkers was an incredibly popular pastime in the 1950s. The game actually dates back over a thousand years ago. Although it's nowhere near as popular as it is today, it's pretty outstanding how long it's relevancy has lasted. This game of strategy has clearly captured the hearts and imaginations of all the boys depicted in this vintage image.
5 Toy Boat Racing
This image beautifully encapsulates the after-school activities for some lucky boys and girls in the 1950s. Some would go as far as to construct their very own toy sailboats to race or simply float around in their neighboorhood pond. Others would get their boats purchased for them so they could take part in such activities.
This was the sort of after-school fun that kids could do with their parents and grandparents, and not just their buddies. The whole thing seems pretty quaint nowadays.
4 Neighborhood Snowball Battles
Parents reading this article may remember a time when neighborhood snowball fights were popular. But even for children of the 80s and 90s, they pale in comparison to those back in the 1950s. Back then, they were far more popular as parents were less concerned about the hazards that snowball fights could pose.
This image shows a young boy in uniform taking his snowball battle incredibly seriously. In Winter, what could be more fun than taking on all the neighbors?
3 Street Baseball
Sports like baseball and hockey were often played by children in the streets of their neighborhoods in the 1950s. It was basically a communal activity. But it's something that just doesn't exist as much anymore. In part, this has to do with the fact that there are far more cars on the road in urban areas like this one. This makes it a little unsafe for kids to be out on the street like this. But given how into the game the kids in this vintage image appear, it probably wouldn't be out-of-line to claim that they probably broke a few windows. This may be another contributing factor to why we see less and less of this after-school activity nowadays.
2 Net Fishing
Net fishing was only an activity that kids near a lake, stream, river, or ocean might partake in, but it was still quite popular. But still, it was a cheap and easy way for parents to keep their kids occupied during their after-school hours in the 1950s.
This photo shows how it could be a group activity, as well. It allowed kids to compete with one another and show off their best catches, whether it was a fish, crustacean, amphibian, or insect. Regardless, let's hope that they put the little creatures back where they found them.
1 Front Yard Store
Seeing a child-run lemonade stand isn't as common as it used to be. However, it's still somewhat normal, even if we go out of the way to avoid them as not to disappoint a youngster by saying, "No, thanks!". But a photo like this one seems more and more foreign nowadays. This is because people tend to be a little more concerned about where their food comes from.
But running a homemade stand used to be a beloved pastime for kids on the weekend and after-school. Just look at how much creativity these kids have put into it. It's clearly not their first time.