Leave It To Beaver A Window In Time

If there had been such a thing as a reality show back in the late 1950s or 1960s,  Leave It to Beaver would have fit the bill.  The show depicted life in a typical middle class suburban family as seen through the eyes of a child (Beaver).

The family consisted of June and Ward Cleaver (played by Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont) and their children Theodore (The Beaver) Cleaver and his older brother Wally.

June Cleaver was a stay at home housewife as were most mothers in that time.  She took care of the family, took care of the house and cooked all the meals and then cleaned up.  We are talking about three meals per day made from scratch.  No pre-packaged or fast food.

This was all done while wearing a dress and pumps. Can you imagine a woman today putting up with wearing a dress  just to keep house?  Thank heavens jeans or shorts are acceptable now.

Back in the day,  most families consisted of a mother and father and the children.  The family unit might even include grandparents and/or aunts, uncles or cousins as a part of the household.  Most mothers were at home during the day.  If they were not, then a grandmother or an aunt was available to babysit so daycare was not needed to take care of the children.  Few woman with children were in the workforce.

Wally and Beaver knew what was expected of them.  They went to school and worked for grades, helped around the house and enjoyed playing with their friends.  Sometimes the Beaver or Wally would get into trouble for not following the rules set for them by their parents.  Most times they would  be grounded as punishment for the offense.   There were no video games or computers so to be entertained the boys had to interact with friends or read a book, ride a bike or maybe roller skate.

Mom or Dad’s word was the final authority.  Whining usually didn’t work. Families were really close during the mid-20th century.  Not just the immediate family, but close with extended family and with friends.

Who is to say whether the earlier lifestyle featuring a kinder, gentler time or the faster pace of today’s world is better.  There are a lot of things good about those days, but also many good things about today.

The Leave It to Beaver Show ran from 1957 until 1964.  At that time the Beaver in real life was entering high school and Wally in his real life was about to graduate from high school.  The stars of the show decided it was time to move on.  The Leave It To Beaver program was popular until the end.


  1. I too grew up during that time and indeed the overall picture was much like Leave it to Beaver because much of life revolved around family and friends with real in-person connections and most moms were home. The main difference between many of the shows during that time and reality was that women didn’t always spend their days in dresses around the house. They did wear slacks and “peddle-pushers” while they took care of house and family.
    As to whether life is better today vs back in those days – I personally feel there is no comparison. The only things people can say we’ve improved in society today are financial levels and technology, but both of those parts of society have greatly contributed to its decline. People don’t share the same types of connections of yore and having more money clearly has not made people better in their natures, character, not healthier, and definitely not happier. Kids have far more health issues physically and mentally and they are missing out on many previously home-taught lessons about ethics and morality.
    Even basic education was superior to what is received today. Young people through the wonders of phonics don’t know how to spell, and most are stymied when it comes to counting back change should the cash register not work properly.
    Chasing financial success is not living. Sending children out to be raised by others is not living. And certainly surviving daily pressures out of various prescription bottles is not living. Give me the days of the Beave!

  2. Lisa says:

    I wasn’t born until the late 70′s, but I idealize everything 50′s and this show is my favorite. We watch it nightly on Netflix and my kids know every actor, the theme song and most of the episodes. In fact, my blog (linked above) is devoted to 50′s living and the background is of course June and Beaver. Of all the things I wish still existed the way this show depicted, the family values and strength are the two I wish for the most. :) Great article!

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