The guns you remember from your youth were/are called Underlever, more specifically Jones Underlever. Quite a popular bolting mechanism especially for real serious double rifles.
The Toplever is what we see the most of, especially in shotguns.
A Sidelever is a wonderfully unique mechanism that I think looks very elegant on hammer guns.
There are a few other interesting versions, including a Pushlever and the opposite pull - or Snaplever, which I think may be the easiest to use and most beautiful since the entire lever is engraved.