Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baby boomer's memory handbook (1950's Ed.)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Really????

1950 -1960:Actually things were almost idyllic. The worst of times? Hardly.
Life before television was almost barbaric. We had to find ways to amuse ourselves. Things were different. There are things that a baby boomer will remember. There are events you try forget.
This was the era of Polio, the iron lung, McCarthyism, the cold war, the threat of nuclear war. A great thing was happening at the end of WWII (1945). President Truman proposed a health care plan for all Americans. As of this year (2010) things seem to be moving along quite nicely.

McCarthyism: Joe had a good idea. Who liked commies in the 50's?Nobody. Let's expose them. OK!!! I like this plan. Hey, Joe is doing a great job.
A month later I see my name published in the paper. I have been reported to be a communist. HUH???!!!
You go before McCarthy committee two weeks later and state, "I am not a communist."
Joe: Did you or did you not have the "The Daily Laborer", a commie front newspaper in your house?
Me:No. Joe: I have a signed affidavit by your garbage man that you had a copy of this paper in your garbage. I have the paper here. It smells communistic.
Me: Sir, I think that is the smell of cat urine. My dad gets these papers at work. I line my litterbox with it."
Joe: "Hah!! So he works for a communist front organization. Who does he work for?"
Me: "He works for you, sir."
That is how it was. A good idea goes bad.

Forgotten cars of the 50's: I saw a Hudson Terraplane once. My uncle had a 1955 Hudson Hornet. It was a good car. He may still be driving it. He is in his 90's now.
A strange looking car. It right up there with the Henry J. I had an uncle who owned a Henry J. He was still driving it in the early 80's. It was a bit quirky at that point. The Edsel? That seemed like a nifty car to me. We are speaking of a time when Ford made a hardtop convertible (it disappeared into the trunk) and Chrysler had push button shifting on the steering wheel. The spare tire was real. You could recognize a car type from a half mile away. This is the era of the legendary 1957 Chevy. You can go to a place that sells model cars and you will find the 57 Chevy on the shelf. I don't think you will find a 1992 Toyota or 1998 Ford Taurus.

Fashion of the 50's: I began my adolescence at a strange fashion time.
Shoes: White bucks and penny loafers were my fashion choices. It was white bucks if you were going for the Pat Boone look. It was boots if you were going for the James Dean look. The James Dean look was Levi's, white T-shirt with a pack of Camels rolled up in the sleeve. I often dreamed that Pat Boone and James Dean would meet up on some street and start fighting. Pat would be getting pounded badly. Bloody nose, black eye, sore ribs. James would grab onto Pat's shirt and rip it. That is when Pat would go ballistic and start beating the crap of James. Pat would be pounding James' head on the pavement.....and Elvis Presley would rush in from somewhere and save James Dean from imminent death at the hands of Pat Boone. Elvis would snarl at Pat, " Look at the blood from his head on the sidewalk." Pat would answer, "That is Wildroot Cream Oil Hair Tonic, You Cretin." A befuddled Elvis would answer, " Don't ever step on my Blue Suede shoes."
Maybe this happen. Did I dream this? Well, was important.

Dressing for a date: My first two dates were disasters. I did not dress correctly for my first date. I had an identity crisis which is very common among teenagers then and today. My Mother made me wear heavy galoshes over my shoes, blue corduroy pants,
A white t-shirt with a box of candy cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve, (I wasn't allowed to smoke.) a headful of Wildroot cream oil, a coonskin cap, (Davey Crocket was very popular at the time, hence, I thought, fashionable.) and of course an umbrella.

The girl was dressed weird. She had layers of petticoats under hooped poodle skirt. I am sure she was wearing a diaper under all this. There is NO WAY she could get all that stuff off in time to poop. I know, I tried to penetrate the fortress to no avail. another thing that doomed the date. I could not penetrate the hair spray on her head with my hand. She was impenetrable everywhere. she wasn't too keen about my hair either.
she told me not to put my head on anything. she also asked me if I wanted to wrap my head in a towel. I guess we were not made for each other.

My second date did not go any better. My friends set me up with a blind date. She wasn't blind. She was in an iron lung. I did not know that until I arrived at her house.
I couldn't figure how I was going to get it in the car. My dad was waiting out in the car. He was going to drive us to the movies. I suppose I could have gotten my uncle Pete's truck and taken her to the drive in theater but that didn't seem practical since I couldn't drive. So I just stayed at her house and we played records. I asked her once if she wanted to dance. She rolled her eyes, but then smiled. She laughed at my faux pas.
It wasn't such a bad date. She recovered enough in time so she would not be in an iron lung all her life. She actually had a fairly normal life.

To give you an idea how carefree and happy we were in those days, we had a little song we sang.
"Hit the dirt, Join the crowd,
Mama, look at mushroom cloud.
looka you daddy, He Know!
Mushroom cloud made him ugly so."

This was a Calypso song. It could have been sung by Harry Belafonte.


  1. Ahh, the good old days of McCarthy. Who was from Wisconsin, coincidentially. We try to forget that part of our past, though. Kind of like Ed Ghein and Jeffrey Dahmer.

  2. Yes, and who do we have if we drive a few miles south? John Gacy!!!
    Wisconsin makes good cheese and Beer which makes Wisconsin the most flatulent state in the Union with Texas second with their burritos.

  3. I don't even know what a Terraplane is .....

    Did you just say we fart in WI?


  4. Speaking of McCarthy, I might recommend this podcast to you. It's very long, but WELL worth the time!


  5. I remember candy cigarettes (loved them) and Penny Loafers. Been a long time.


  6. Loved the Pat Boone/James Dean/Elvis encounter!


  7. Yeah, remembered all those stuff too. Also when phones were so huge you can just use them to knock someone out. Anyway, I'm now using a Just5 phone. Truly love it. Thought I might share with you guys its benefits.