Jerri Rock, 75 years old
11 February 2019
Oral History Project
When reading over the parameters for this project, I was attempting to talk with either of my grandfathers, both of whom had grown up through the 1940s. However, neither was comfortable speaking over the phone as their hearing just isn’t quite what it used to be (although they just blamed cell phone technology). So, through trial and error with a little bit of frustration locating someone to interview, I settled nicely on a phone conversation with my wife’s step-grandmother. Jerri Rock, who lives in West Virginia, was more than happy to talk with me about the changes throughout her 75 years. She grew up in the southern area of Washington D.C., with what she described as easy parents who enjoyed music and television. I am extremely grateful for her taking the time to talk with me for this project, especially since I truthfully have only met her once many years ago. A perfectly nice lady with a penchant for conversation and a very clear memory of things from so long ago, I learned quite a bit of what was like in the 1950s without even the technology I had growing up through the 1980s.
Jerri began by saying that in her household they listened to 45 RPMs most the time, but they also had the 33 records as well. However, the interesting fact during this point of the conversation was that her family had a reel to reel tape recorder. She also mentioned that her father always had a guitar in the house, a sign that her family was very into music. Not specifying on a single recording star as her favorite, although she did mention Elvis almost as a side note. Jerri went on to name artists she enjoyed like The Inkspots, The Diamonds, and Peggy Lee. Their record player was kept in the dining room in an alcove under the stairs, where she described it as always being played without limitations. No music was forbidden in her household as well, obviously being a big part of her childhood. I was then very surprised when I asked Jerri about the price of records during the 1950s. She told me that at first they were purchased at Dime Stores, and then later record stores for 49 to 99 cents apiece.
When bringing up radio, Jerri was very quick to answer with what seemed like incredibly fond memories of times with her father. She described being a small child and sitting with her father listening to specific radio shows like The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, and Baby Snooks. She also distinctly remembers a radio show called The Shadow, yet she laughed off not liking that one because it scared her. She recalled them being on Friday evenings at about 7PM, describing it similarly to the way families gathered to watch television during my own childhood. She enjoyed those shows for the different voices she had heard, and that some were funny as well. Her recollections of the commercials on the radio were limited though, specifica...