Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Fifties/Sixties

Today is my birthday, and I am now 64 years old. Hardly seems possible, but I look at the jowls and realize it is so. I was born in 1947, and was just 3 at the advent of the Fifties. But I love the Fifties. I love the music especially. I happened upon a 50s special on PBS recently and enjoyed every minute (thankful that I could fast forward through the pleas for money - it was PBS, you know, and a fund raiser). I loved watching the audience shots of gray haired folks (or those who had colored away the gray), clapping, singing along, and even wiping a tear or two as memories washed over them.

There is such an innocence to the music of the 50s, at least that which has endured. Pat Boone and one of the McGuire Sisters hosted the evening. Pat never sang, which disappointed me. But the McGuires did - they look terrific and sound fabulous. All of the groups and solos were fantastic - their voices have stood the test of time in an amazing way. They looked wonderful, too. (I'm thinking nobody in this generation is going to be singing 60 years from now - their voices will be destroyed before they're 40 at the rate they're screaming!) I was amused at all the "Four" groups - The Four Aces, The Four Seasons, The Four Coins, and The Four Tops, to name a few.

I was only 13 when 1960 hit, but obviously the 50s music was still around, because I know so much of it by memory. And so much of it is timeless. The harmony is chillingly beautiful. The other day I was eating at Taco Bell - they've been playing 50s music the last few times I've been there - I don't know how their younger customers feel about it, but as I was bopping to my table, singing "Johnny Angel" along with Shelley Fabares, I caught the eyes of the 4 similarly-aged ladies at the next table. We had a great conversation about our faves of the 50s.

As I got older and closer to driving age, I decided I wanted one of these - I never got one, but I still love seeing them in their restored state on occasion.

Recently I discovered a couple of really retro t.v. stations and have been enjoying "Highway Patrol" and "Father Knows Best." I especially love it when the female criminal, which there seems to always be, runs from the law with 3 inch pointed toe heels on "Highway Patrol." (It's amazing how huge the steering wheels were in those 50s cars!) I enjoy the wisdom of the father who knows best - and the fact that the mom actually dresses in pants and a sweatshirt when she's doing serious housework. But when she goes anywhere out of the house, she wears a hat and gloves - usually with a veil covering her eyes, down to her nose - I don't know how they stood it. I tried to find out a bit about why we wore those white gloves back in those days - I can remember washing mine as if I were washing my hands, because they got dirty so quickly. Remember the little stretchy lace ones?

When I went to college, "Dawn Go Away, I'm No Good For You" was popular - it was 1965, but the song was still around, apparently, because the guys would all sing "Dawn, go away, you're no good for me!" Nice!

But not everything in the 50s was rosy. I lived in Arkansas from ages 5-10. I didn't know it then, but learned later that our sweet little Mayberry-esque town didn't allow a black truck driver to spend the night - he had to drive on through and find lodging elsewhere. My dad just told me a story last night that I never heard before. Dad was a bivocational pastor who worked at a grocery store (Piggly Wiggly, don't you love it?) There was a black man who delivered product to this store, but of course hurried out of town. One day Dad could tell he was uncomfortable, and deduced that he needed a rest room. Dad realized there were no facilities for him at the store, so he asked the man to come to our house to relieve himself. The black man was amazed and grateful, but laid down in the back seat of the car all the way to our house and back to his truck at the store. Dad asked him to come up and sit with him in the front seat, but he said he was hiding to protect Dad more than himself. So sad.

I have a strong memory of the integration issue in Little Rock in 1957, when I was 10 years old - in fact, when I was doing some research yesterday, to my amazement I discovered that it was on my 10th birthday (54 years ago today) that Central High School was integrated with the Little Rock Nine. The National Guard was called because Governor Faubus did not want to follow the new national law. But in my mind's eye, I see one lone girl climbing the tall steps to the school - maybe I'm mixing that up with a movie I've seen in later years.

The book The Help has brought up a lot of emotions that led to some of these memories. It was a time in our history that we cannot be proud of. But I hope it is used as a learning tool. We've come a long ways, but we still have a long ways to go.

In other related news, I graduated from high school in 1965. We're all going to be turning 65 in the next year. There were about 15 of us girls who had frequent slumber parties in those days of high school. We've decided to have an updated slumber party next September called "The Class of 65 Turns 65." Interestingly, when 3 of us got together recently, we did some figuring and discovered that each of us will be paying $65 for our rooms. It was meant to be! I'll be one of two (the other being my best friend and co/editor of the school newspaper) who won't be 65 yet that week-end, but soon thereafter.


Brenda said...

Happy Birthday! That was a fun post. Chels, my sis Reva and I went to see The Help on Sat. It was a really good movie. Chels has read the book. She said they seemed to follow the book nicely.
Have a great birthday week!

Susan said...

Happy Birthday Dawn. I will be 74 in December. Where, or where have the years gone.

nancygrayce said...

Happy Birthday Dawn! The reason our music is so popular is who can sing to the m.e.s.s. they call music now!? :)

The class of 65 get away sounds like fun!

Sammy said...

This is an amazing post, Dawn! As I was reading what you wrote about the music of the 50's and 60's, I couldn't help but think of what was happening in terms of race relations in this country at that time. And then you addressed that exact topic. And you addressed it well. Yes, we've come a long way. And yes, we have a long way to go. Although not by law, the segregation in New York City schools is appalling.

This post also made me laugh! Especially the part about "Dawn, Go Away..." Boys! :-)

'65 turning 65 sounds like it will be so much fun. I'm so glad you're doing something like that. And I can't wait to hear about it!

grammy said...

happy Birthday sweetie
It was my Hubby's BD that day too...he was 59 and i will join him in March (o:
That is so cool about the girlfriend get together. wonder if some of my classmates will want to get together in in '71' Maybe (o:
Great post about the 50's and love those family pics.

Glenda said...

Happy Birthday - a little late!! Hope you had a great day! Loved your pics, which brought back memories of the days we wore hats, gloves, and carried a matching purse to church!

Nomad said...

Oh my goodness - what a story from Grampa. I forget how recent those days were, it's crazy and sad at the same time. How far we've come.

Gigi said...

Oh Dawn - what a FABULOUS post!! And I need for you to do me a favor please...the next time you see your Daddy, I want you to hug his neck for me and thank him for being such an obedient servant of the Lord way back then, when such an action could have brought a lot of trouble on his head. (And by the way, I used to buy my lunch at Piggly Wiggly when we lived in Charleston and I worked at the newspaper downtown! We called it "The Pig!")

I'm a child of the 60's but I do love the music of the 50s...and earlier! Today's junk? Forget it! (And I doubt it will stand the test of time!)

So glad you enjoyed a peaceful birthday! I look forward to a post about your "65 slumber party!"

Gram said...

Happy belated birthday. I am a little younger (60 in Feb) but have many of the same memories. For the most part, growing up in the 50's and 60's was great.

Linda said...

What a great trip down Memory Lane Dawn. I will be 65 in November - already have my trusty medicare card!
I loved the 50's too. The first 45 record I ever had was "Dream" - the Everly Brothers!
I feel such a sorrow about the racial discrimination too. It is a terrible blot on our nation's history.

Thank you so much for your sweet comment. You have always been one of my biggest encouragers. You are a sweet, sweet friend.
Laity Lodge is in Leaky, Tx - on the Frio River. I've never been, but I know it is a very beautiful, peaceful spot. I am so grateful Dawn. I cannot get over it.
I'll let you know all about it.

HOOTIN' ANNI said...

Oh my gosh....well now, a belated wish to my Colorado Dawn!! Golly, I have completely forgotten the song "Dawn Go Away" hilarious that the boys would sing their rendition to you that way. Boys will be boys!!!

Loved this share. Yep, I'm one of those gray haired ones jiving and clapping along with the 50s and 60s music. Why I've even caught myself stopping at some of the paid commercial programs that last 1/2 hour...with the music --- the oldies but goodies!!!

And I must stop to send along my thanks for being such a loyal visitor while I was absent in blog hopping. Much appreciated.

My link: Baltimore Orioles

This is an open invitation to stop by and view, if you can find time.

Happy Wednesday.

Needled Mom said...

Happy birthday, Dawn. It does seem like the number 65 is playing a big role in all of this! Guess I am in with the group too.

I started "The Help" this week on vacation and am recalling all of those memories too. Amazing!

I enjoyed reading about your summer and the fabulous family reunion. The chalet looks and sounds just as awesome as the fun you had.

Have a great year ahead.

nannykim said...

Ah so funny. I am younger, but I remember the fifties. I was born in 52. I had an older sis who was about 5 1/2 years older. She had a poodle skirt and listened to all the 50's music so I would get it second hand so to speak. I remember hats and gloves for church.

Maine Mom said...

Happy Belated Birthday! I missed it here and on Facebook...shame on me! I hope you had a fabulous day. :-)

A Hint of Home said...

Happy Birthday Dawn!
I liked some of those songs, too!How funny that "Dawn song" was playing when you left for school. lol
Time is flying by, isn't it?

Midlife Mom said...

Happy Birthday Dawn!!!!!! I hope you get some pampering today, you really deserve it!!!

Was that picture taken at Green Lake???? So pretty!!

You have such a good memory, I certainly could relate to to all of it. Sure wish the music was as innocent now as it was back then. You can see why I was so shocked when I went to see The Jersey Boys about the Four Seasons. Why did they have to spoil a good thing by putting in all the foul language.

I'm rushing this morning, getting a hair cut in a few minutes and then going to the Humane Society to work. We are gearing up for Paws On Parade which is on Saturday.

I lost your last e-mail, that is why I haven't answered it. DUH!!!

Loved your walk down memory Lane!!!

HOOTIN' ANNI said...

Hello dear Dawn!

I finally have a bit of quiet time before Bud gets up and then we need to get busy with some yard work. Before it gets too hot. And steamy....that time of year.

Anyway, I wanted to stop by and read your last post that you sent an invitation in your last comment for me....

Love the G of the G in the Springs photo...on the horse---it's picture postcard perfect. And the potty training; well, I'd agree too old [it should be over by now...and y'know they can comprehend it, so it's not going to be any easier 'cause they've had their way way too long ---but, I'm old school].

The camping trip. Oh yes I bet Gramps errrr...ummm...Grandpaw loves being with his enthusiastic partners. Beautiful countryside, and the girls look like they're having a time of their lives!! And the 'human basketball'...heck, that looks like fun too.

And you two gals had a great time together while the 'other crew' was up in them thar hills!!

Crescent City Connection

PEA said...

Dearest Dawn...first of all, Happy Belated Birthday!!! I'm a bit late with my best wishes but know that they come from the heart:-)

I so enjoyed this post because although I was born in 1957, I always say I should have been a teenager during that time because I love anything to do with the 50's, especially the music and the clothes! That's when music was music. I guess that's why I'm such a huge Elvis fan as well:-) We have a new radio station that's just debuted called "Rewind 103.9" and they only play songs from the 50's, 60's and 70's...of course it's all I listen to now. I pretty much know all the words to those songs so sing along with flourish! Not a pretty sound since I can't hold a tune! LOL

Loved seeing your old pictures. I remember in the 60's, as a little girl, wearing hats and gloves every Sunday for church. I even remember wearing a lace kerchief on top of my head, it looked something like a doily! lol

It galls me whenever I hear or see film footage of how the blacks were treated in those days. I would have been like your dad, wanting him to sit in the front with me!!! I just abhor any type of racism and/or unfairness. My mom's best friend back in the 40's was a black girl and mom remembers the flack she got about it but didn't care. I'm so proud of her for that:-)

I do hope you had a wonderful birthday and got to do something special just for you. xoxox

Forty Pound Sack said...

I was born in 1968 but I love the music of the 50's and 60's. When I was a kid my friend had two older sisters who were married and moved out, and they left a box of 45's in the attic. Of course we found them, and played them, and I have loved that music ever since.

I read The Help and had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this era was in our so-recent past. I still have a hard time with it. Thank goodness those days are gone, but I think we still have a long way to go. Your father was an inspiration ~