Thursday, September 10, 2009

Growing up in the 50's (part 2)

Once upon a time there was a magical land called 1950's America. It was a strange and wonderful place.
The main occupants of this wonderful place were called "Teenagers". I was one of them. To this day, People still try to capture the essence of that era.

Cars: If you go to a vintage car show, people want to see the 1957 Chevy, the 1957 Ford hardtop convertible. (It retracted into the trunk). The look at the 1955 Corvette, The 1958 Ford Thunderbird. Let us not forget the Henry J or the Nash Metropolitan (Clark Kent's car).These vehicles are now the cornerstone of any nostalgic car show.

Fashion: I remember wearing white bucks and a coonskin hat at the same time. It was the Davy Crockett era. I also did the Mickey Mouse Club ears and penny loafers thing. after that I pretty much gave up the hat thing. They just don't make stylish hats like that any more.

This is the time that Bermuda shorts came into style. I lived in a very rural area. The first people I saw wearing them (and sandals too!) were some Jewish people from New York City. My little clique of friends were rolling on the ground laughing our asses off.
The city folks obviously didn't know how silly they looked. We got up from our moment of mirth, put our packs of Lucky Strikes back in our white t-shirt sleeves, dusted off our blue jeans, adjusted our duck's ass haircut, put our coonskin hats back on our heads and walked away muttering to ourselves.

The woman dressed a little different back then. The use of hair spray was common. In fact, it was so overused that a woman's hair was just about bullet proof. The woman also had hoop skirts with poodles or some other little creature on it. Under that they had 35 petticoats. This was also bulletproof. Well, maybe not bulletproof, but impenetrable by the average youth of my era. I didn't know women had soft hair, curves and an ass until I was 16 years old.
We didn't have hair stylist back then. The girls went an got a stinky "permanent" which looked ok for about a day. It was just not the same the second day. It was really a "temporary".

The guys went to a barbershop. My barber looked like Larry Fine of the 3 stooges. Larry is the one who is balding on top but has curly long hair in the back. He was called " Slow Joe" or "Hacker". He often had a cigarette dangling from his mouth while he cut your hair. This guy was so slow that my hair was growing faster than he was cutting it. One day I walked out of his shop and I felt something wet on my head. It was a puddle of wildroot cream oil. Yuk!!! I walked a short distance, went into a store and the clerk started laughing like crazy. He said, "You just got a haircut from "Hacker", didn't you?" I knew it was time to find someone else to cut my hair.

Music: To this day ad agencies use songs of the fifties in their commercials. It was great music and it has held up to the test of time. Every radio market still have their "oldies" stations. we even had rap back then. We didn't call it rap. I mean, Walter Brennan singing "old rivers" Lorne Greene singing "Johnny Ringo" and let's not forget "Ambrose, Part 5". Actually, the first real rock and roll song I remember was "Rock around the Clock" with Bill Haley and the Comets from the Movie "Blackboard Jungle" with Glen Ford and Sidney Poitier. Good movie; great song. Who hasn't danced to "The Platters"?

Reality check: It was the best of times. but it was not without danger. I remember friends getting polio. It was a very dangerous disease. I saw some people come back to school with withered arms, or they couldn't walk. a few made a full recovery. many were messed up for life.
I remember the threat of Communism. We had a drill in school where you would dive under your desk in case of Nuclear attacked. Wow! I was saved by my desk from a Nuclear explosion. Hmm! They didn't mention anything about fallout. You know; A week later when your hair falls out, your teeth fall out, and your internal organs fall out.

Politics were about the same back then as now. weird as it may seem, they were trying to get through a universal health care package as far back as the Truman Administration (1945-1952). The Republicans shot it down. In the early fifties, Joe McCarthy could say you were a communist. If he did, you were screwed. He didn't need any proof. People were so terrified they let him do what he wanted. One day someone stood up to him. Edward R. Murrow. That is when News people had integrity. Most politicians had integrity. Now you have Rush Limpaw and Mark Sanford. The Democrats have their share of jerks too. But these guys seem to stand out.
Well, Life was better back then. remember only one parent had to work. The company you worked for took care of your health plan. When people say that America is the best country in the world, the are talking about the 1950's, not today.
This was the time of Roy Rogers, Hula hoop, American Bandstand, Mickey Mouse Club, (I still have a crush on Annette Funicello), flat tops, ponytails, drive in movies, jujubes, Frank Gifford, ....Frank Gifford!!! ummm!...Frank Gifford?


  1. I was a teenager in the 60's and we were too cool for school. Southern California, the surf crowd, Pacific Coast Highway, that sort of thing.
    The 50's were a little before my time but I still appreciate the drive-in movies, Roy Rogers (sooo much better than Gene Autry) and Mickey Mouse. i lived in California 14 miles from Disnyland when it opened in 1955.
    I love your blog entries.
    You totally get it.

  2. Thank you, sunny. It was a great time to grow up. It seemed like things change in October 1962. The Cuban missile crisis, then November 22, 1963. The end of innocence. The world that I knew changed forever.