Sunday, November 04, 2007

The 50s

I was born in 1952. I was born during a war, the Korean War. My father, an upper echelon Air Force officer in Pac Af was doing what he did. I spent the rest of the decade with my family following him from one fire to another to help keep our shores safe from the commies. To me the 50s were great. I was a kid fer chrisakes. I can remember Pinky Lee, Howdy Doody, and wondering why my family wasn't like the Cleavers. I remember Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show and my mom wondering out loud why anyone thought this was music. I grew up with Televison. Maybe the first generation that did.

I had much older brothers who brought home the first inklings things were not all white picket fences, humongous cars with outrageous fins, and White Castle burgers for a dime apiece. They infected the house with their rocknroll, their Elvis doos, and white tee shirts with a pack of Luckys rolled up in one sleeve. One brother rolled on the right. The other on the left. They were double trouble with a capital T.

While the 50s unfolded, untended issues began to simmer and occaisionally boil over. The idyllic life sought for and actually started by our country after WWll began to show some cracks. Blacks were getting fed up. The white youth were getting angry. And our cultural and political leaders chose to ignore what was obviously building a head of steam. An ugly undercurrent of discontent beneath the Father Knows Best facade.

It was probably Oct 1962 when America really understood the Life of Riley from the 50s was over. The Red Menace was real. The Cuban Missle crisis scared an entire nation, instilling a far more realistic fear than our more recent 9/11. We faced the reality of the nuclear horror we had helped to build. Canned goods, blankets and bottles of water were hauled to school. Air raid drills became part of every school day. The clueless innocence was over. Or at the least irrevocably damaged. Then the next summer, 1963, the rise of the civil rights movement was the final blow to the mindless 50s.

Many events coming into their own in the early 60s caused us to discard the wonderful life we had so few years earlier. Without the decade of TV's coming of age and injection into our national soul, we might have skated for a few more years. Televison during the 1950s connected us like no other medium had before. Events unfolding 3000 miles away in real time not described through others eyes, but in front of us to describe for ourselves. Nothing sped the process of change like televison did. We have never been nor will we ever be the same again.
Thanks to AhabtheArab of Political Hotwire for getting me started on this one

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