LOST IN THE FIFTIES

by CHARLES ROBEY
(MOODY AL USA)

PROLOGUE

Do you remember that old classic lyric by Ronnie Millsap, “Lost in the Fifties Tonight"? Go ahead, pull it up and give it a twist.

I’m lost in the Fifties. I can’t help it. It was such an easy life. It was there where I met the love of my life, and we tied the knot that is still tightly tied today. It’s where I started my family, which now has expanded beyond belief.

The clothing fads of that period were unbelievable. There were boat neck shirts and rear buckle blue jeans, white buck shoes, and belt to match, Dad's rolled down socks, along with the high school sports letter jacket was simply “the most.” I didn’t even need to comb my flat top hairstyle. And I hadn’t quite started shaving yet.

We waited for the TV test pattern to disappear, then watched Howdy Doody or maybe the Hit Parade, while drinking a double root beer float. All such activity was simply “the most.”

There were real cool slogans, as 'what's shaken bacon,' 'mum's the word,' 'cooties in her hair,' 'stars in your eyes,' 'dirty birds,' and 'pitching woo'. And how could we forget the knock-knock and little moron jokes.

Oh, to go back again to that simpler life. Just a taste of life in the good ole Fifties. What has happened to me? How did I get so old? But wait, I’m not quite through dreaming yet.

Yes, what good old times they were. Do you remember? If not, ask your Papaw. I’m sure he will jump at the chance to brag a bit.

So, I trust this blog won’t be a dry rag. Turn up the volume as you read, and you will find it to be from a real live cool cat. Like my not-so-cool, highly educated parents often said, “It was all copacetic.” But I always said, “It was all a big tickle.”

So, see you later Alligator, if not then after while Crocodile. On with our blog entitled Lost In The Fifties

I was up early. It was another school day. I primped a little, donned my school clothes and off I went on those proverbial miles to school. No, it was not five miles on foot, nor in the snow. I just rode my bike down the road, daydreaming a bit.

I couldn’t wait for all the important events of the day. Meeting up with the gang at the flagpole, and hoping she would be there, my one and only puppy love. Wishing that basketball practice would soon start. Wondering if it was biology class test day. Most importantly, would there be an empty bike rack stall? Oh no, I left my pocket mirror home, how could I see to comb my hair into a ducktail?

The first morning bell rang, and we all quickly scattered to our classes. First there was the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the daily Bible devotional, all led by the school Bible club. Next came the announcements of the day.

Then it happened. Dreams can oftentimes come when least expected. Was it in home room study hall. Maybe so. I suddenly found myself back in my old neighborhood.

Elm Street hadn't changed very much. Those big, leaning elm trees still shaded the old, cracked sidewalk, interspersed with a blossoming apple tree now and then. I see the street crew still hasn’t finished replacing the old worn-out parking meters.

As I strolled down the street, I saw the scenery hadn't changed much, either. The downtown department store still had the small black and white TV console in the window. We spent many a Saturday afternoon gathered there watching the baseball games.

There was the new '55 Chevy still gracing the same garage window. It was the one vehicle that held the distinction of finally beating the Ford in the Saturday night neighborhood drag race. What a thrill that was!

The ice truck was delivering ice to the neighbors' ice boxes. When it parked, we would all sneak up on the back and grab the left-over ice chips. Once, on a dare, I slipped up to Grandma's back porch and turned her ice truck delivery dial from 50 to 200 pounds. She never said a word.

There it was, the popular Hangout drive in, The Passion Pit with its invitational blinking marquee, advertising today’s ten cent specials. The short-skirted carhops still whizzed around wearing the new skates Santa brought them. Why are all my classmates sitting around on the hoods of their cars, listening to the loud music? Why are they not in school? Where’s the principal in all this melee?

The old home place looked as good as ever, including a big, motorized TV antenna fixed to the roof pole. And the dining room window fan for summer comfort always seemed to cool the food before we got a chance to eat. I also remember falling on that hot floor furnace grate in the hallway, cutting my lip.

The old clothesline is full of wet clothes, so it must be Monday morning. My old hotrod scooter, the one with the upside-down soap bucket to resemble a motor scooter is still parked by the garage, waiting to take off again down the sidewalk.

I really enjoyed having my own personal crystal radio set. What a thrill it was, sitting by the radio and hearing those old superheroes such as The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, and Superman capture the bad guys and solve crimes.

There were all the high school elite, teamed up together, sitting around the city park fountain. They all had nicknames which seemed to describe their characters.

There was Skinny, the class mastermind who was as round as he was tall, and Freckles, with no explanation needed. I’ll never forget Shortcake, the tallest young lady in school. No, I won’t reveal mine. You’ll just have to guess.

Phil, the class clown, was always ready to defend his title. Phil: “What’s the teacher’s favorite nation?” His answer, “Explanation.” These, not-the-least-bit-corny quips were always followed up by his raucous laughter as we exited his latest classroom gig.

I really miss the unforgettable summer afternoons playing hide-and-seek, just before Mom would call us in for supper at dusk. Why did the new freeway have to take all that away?

If we boys didn’t feel like playing hide-and-seek with the cute little girls, there was always the big elm tree to climb, plenty of ten-cent comic books to read, or catching lightning bugs in a jar. Waiting for the eternal TV test pattern to go away in time for the Saturday morning cartoons was a bummer.

The old vacant lot is still in place. We played marbles in the dirt. All that was needed was a big circle drawn in the dirt and the marbles. I must admit, my big steely was the champ, knocking them all out of the circle.

The downtown car dealership hasn’t changed. I enjoyed getting up before breakfast on Saturday and sneaking down to see the new year car models being unloaded for the show room. That new 1955 Chev. V-8 now on display was in the new arrivals. Wow, what a day!

The corner drugstore was our favorite hangout where we learned all the new hip-hop colloquial phrases such as do-whop, rock and roll, wig chop, Daddy-O, made in the shade, my pad, a greaser, cruising for a bruising, burn rubber, cheap shot, a drag, and the list could go on and on into eternity.

One thing for sure, I really needed to be on my best behavior when relatives came calling, so Dad would be sure to give me an advance on my dime allowance. No more pulling the cousins' pigtails or sneaking around pinching ankles or buckling knees. You see, I could buy many penny candies with this allowance treasure. I could even save up and send off for a special secret decoder ring, with five cereal box tops.

I would take in the thirty-nine cent Saturday movie double features and went out between the cowboy shows to ride down the sidewalk on my trusty broomstick horse, taking care of all those gun-slinging hombres, using my always-loaded six-shooters, with my imaginary faithful sidekick by my side. My only way to get to the movies was Dad giving me the needed movie change after my promise to take my Saturday night bath.

Oh yes, we always said, “thank you” and “please” to our grown-ups. You see, grown-ups seemed so glamorous those days. Even TV was religious back then, with the morning devotional and the nightly sign off of the national anthem and departing prayer. My old Army vet Granddad would always stand at attention. He would even, on occasion, talk back to the television commentators. Yes, it was his first television experiences.

Well, enough said for now. I admit I kind of went overboard here. But if you forgot the present, just for a moment, it was well worth it. Amen! Wow, is that the sun shining through my bedroom window? I believe so. Up and at it again, my dream is over.

EPILOGUE

We all have our friendships; someone we would probably trust our lives with. Batman had Robin. The Lone Ranger had his faithful companion, Tonto. The cowboy hero Red Rider had Little Beaver. Moses had Aaron. Joshua had Caleb. Our Lord Himself, God in the flesh, had His beloved disciple, John.

We Americans seem to have left those good old days of the past behind us. In this so-called modern-day progressive society, our basic God-given freedoms are quickly slipping away. We have progressed into the hustle and bustle of this Twenty-First Century with its victims being the forgotten man or woman, whatever the case.

Yes, I remember those many Fifties’ memories through this blog. What about you, my friend? Don't be shy. Come on, reach back in the memory pages of your mind. Sing out those Fifties’ tunes. Check out that old classic rusting in the garage. Get out your high school yearbook, the one with all the handwritten puppy-love comments. My favorite was, “Roses are red, my love. Violets are blue. Sugar is sweet, my love. And so are you.”

So, did you enjoy this memoir mix? Are you, like me, older than dirty and twice as gritty? Have you had your Bible autographed? Then why not grab a bit of relaxation, a big ice-cold sweet tea, and a piece of Mom’s homemade yellow cake with chocolate icing? Yes, it’s OK to pig out, just have the Pepto handy.

See all you cool Kats, in the funny papers!

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