I recall watching a friend's father print in the mid 1950s. There were 6x9 negs contacted printed in a small frame. Loading was done under the stairs in daylight but gloomy conditions. The contact frame was then placed into his inside pocket and exposed to the evening light outside. Counting elephants was the norm and it was based on his previous experience of correct exposure. Back to the under the stairs position the paper was placed in a series of liquids and the print revealed. It seemed like magic although by modern standards even the contact prints were probably of poor quality but then again in those days most prints were simply obtained from the local chemist as 6x9 contact prints and whole evenings would be spent passing these around and discussing the background to the shots. Prints were simply a means to conversations about the scene and the people.
APUG like technical discussions would have been as alien as Martian-speak but the prints were nevertheless the core of the evening's entertainment. The days ended earlier then. Unless you were a nightshift worker you only saw midnight strike on New Year's eve but I am beginning to digress