Let me preface this by emphatically stating that I am no more of a product of the 1950s (my teen years) than any other decade. I’m 77 and it took every decade, every year, every month and day of living to make me the product I now am.
Yet that said, I often say I am a product of the fifties. By that I guess I mean I spent most of my teen years living in a pretty good time – the early 1950s – and in fact graduated from high school in 1954. Since so many of my friends are up in age just as I am, I get emails with all kinds of references to the fifties and living in the fifties. From pictures of items that were in use then to all kinds of sayings and, of course, complaints about the younger people of today – I’ve seen them all.
Much is made of that ‘50s, and deservedly so. It was the marvelous and frightening atom bomb era. WWII ended in 1945 only to have a different kind of war, a “Cold War”, commence. Be that was it may, we were safe because we had a commanding general as our president, the fatherly-viewed Ike. Congress didn’t bicker (well, not too much), the annual introduction of new cars were a big thing, dining out wasn’t a nearly daily occurrence as it is now and restaurants weren’t that fast, pro sports figures weren’t adored (well, maybe baseball stars were since that truly was the national past time), there was no such thing as a school lockdown, all the guys just knew a girl (usually the same girl) who was very friendly, girls just oh so liked the first string football or basketball players and dinner was a family affair. No teens ever protested except having to be home by 10 PM and not 11 PM.
It was still a time when house doors need not be locked; well, screen doors were locked but I have no idea why; keys were hung on a hook or nail right next to the door just in case the family was going to take a vacation. Guns were made for hunting and target practice only – and the NRA supported both and only both. Classmates didn’t make detailed plans on how to invade the school to kill teachers and classmates. It was the end of ballads and jazz as they were replaced by “ROCK and ROLL”, and we embraced it as the music of our generation. It was also the last decade of parental control. All that is a mixed bag, as they say, but it was all that and so much more.
See, here I go doing the same thing I accused all my friends of – reminiscing about the 50s. But then, it was a time worth remembering – it was our time, our youth. It was the launch of our journey through life. It was a time when parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles were still alive. It was a time devoid of doctors and pills and hospitals – and bodies we could not even conceive of having when we were young. Now the 1950s is our sanctuary when the news of today is too discouraging. If you are young and don’t understand us now, there will come a time after we are long gone that you will.
But I am naïve; I know today’s youth have about as much interest in the 1950s as I did about the 1900s when I was young. The past is the past and not very interesting to the young. So it was, so it is and so it will be for future generations.
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