The 1950s: The best of times

Published 7:54 pm Friday, April 28, 2023

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The car at the traffic light had the radio so loud, my cheeks were shaking.

I turned up my own “radio.” Loretta Lynn was singing, “I don’t feel at home in this world anymore.”

I hear you Loretta.

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My mind drifted back to the 1950s, to the simple and sweet times.

Back to times sitting around at Hazel’s Café eating burgers and fries or honking for curb service at The Hut and ordering 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,” which had an extended run at the drive-in theater.

The drive-in, which was dubbed “the passion pit,”  — and I don’t have a clue as to why — was a favorite gathering place for teenagers.

Most cars didn’t have air conditioning so instead of hanging the speaker in the car window, we’d just leave it on the post and sit on top of the car to watch to the picture show.

Sock hops in the school auditorium were Friday night events, especially 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 100-year-old teachers with eagle eyes and wagging tongues kept watch over their “broods.”

In an effort to keep from being wallflowers, girls danced with girls. Bitterweed boys just stayed in the bathroom waxing their flattops until the music stopped.

The last dance at every sock hop was “Red Sails in the Sunset’ by every girl’s heartthrob Tab Hunter. When that record came on, we knew it was the last dance of the night and it was “our song” of every couple in puppy love.

Starched petticoats, jukeboxes, white kid belts, penny loafers, the Everly Brothers, Tommy Sands, Fats Domino, the Hangout at Panama City Beach, the Big Bam Shows, glass packs, mirror dice, fender skirts, drag racing, skating rinks, playing “Penny” and “Spin the Bottle” and cars that you could actually distinguish one from the another were all part of growing up in the 1950s.

As simple as they were, the 1950s were the best of times, at least for those of us lucky enough to have lived them. Sadly, probably never to be again.