Archived Story

Growing up in the 1950s

Published 11:00pm Friday, July 5, 2013

What my daughter said kind of surprised me.

“I wish I’d grown up in the 1950s.”

What was she thinking?!

She wouldn’t have lasted a day in the 1950s. She would have been bored to tears.

The boys and girls of the 1950s, believed that storks brought babies, that Santa Claus came down the chimney and that the tooth fairy put dimes under our pillows.

My daughter wouldn’t have bought any of that. Not for a minute.

Whatever prompted her to think such a thing!

Maybe she’d watched a rerun of “Happy Days” or heard Ricky Nelson sing “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” on the oldies station.

But she got me thinking about that idealistic time. The 1950s were the best of times and I’m very thankful that I grew up in those tender years.

The world would be a different place, a better place, if we all had grown up in a 1950s kind of world.

To say that the 1950s were a time of complete youthful innocence would be a stretch, unless you don’t count the cherry bombs that mysteriously exploded in the commodes in the boys’ bathroom or snakes that somehow got loose in the science lab. Little things like that.

But mostly the 1950s were simple and sweet times.

We were as happy as hogs in slop on Saturday nights, sitting around at Hazel’s Café eating burgers and fries or honking for curb service at The Hut to order an orange drink and a slice of lemon pie.

As girls, we swooned over James Dean at the walk-in picture show and mooned over Troy Donahue in “A Summer Place,” at the drive-in theater, which was dubbed “the passion pit.” I don’t have a clue as to why.

Sock hops in the school auditorium were Friday night events during football season. The girls sat on one side of the auditorium and the boys on the other. The music came from a record player that was prominently placed in front of the stage and ancient teachers with sharp eyes and wagging tongues kept watch over their “broods.”

Most of the time, the boys stayed in the bathroom waxing their flattops so girls had to dance with each other.

The last dance at every sock hop was “Red Sails in the Sunset” by every girl’s heartthrob Tab Hunter.

Most afternoons were spent reading Nancy Drew mysteries or drawing hearts and arrows in the margins of our writing tables while listening to the Troy radio station that took mail-in requests and we had plenty of them.

Drugs stores, cherry Cokes and jukeboxes. Bobby socks, starched petticoats and penny loafers. The Everly Brothers, Fabian and Ricky Nelson. “Blueberry Hill,” the Hangout at Panama City and Big Bam Shows.

Glass packs, mirror dice, fender skirts. Drag racing, skating rinks and “Spin the bottle” were all part of growing up in the 1950s and they were the absolute best of times.

But I still don’t know what my daughter was thinking.

 

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