I write a lot about the past in this column. I feel a certain obligation to make a record of the times we've lived before our collective memory of those times washes out and fades to black.
Would new generations know that drive-in theaters were once ubiquitous and must-go Saturday night destinations? Would they know that miniature, individual jukeboxes were part of the table décor at your local Bob's Big Boy restaurant? What about 78 rpm records or 45s? Would they know that one of the Beatles' most famous hits, "P.S I Love You," was on Side B of a 45? For you young people, 45s were small records with large holes in the center.
Besides buying vinyl record albums to play on our low-tech players, we also collected sports cards featuring Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. My husband has yet to forgive his mother for getting rid of his baseball collection after he went off to college. He insists that he would be rich today were it not for the commitment of that grievous error.
The 50s and 60s were the eras of glass Coke bottles, Nehi Soda and fake puff cigarettes. (We used to "smoke" these on street corners to impress passers-by.) In those days, smoking cigarettes was considered glamorous and the epitome of sophistication. This was long before we knew the terrible and tragic truth. I actually skipped school with a friend in eighth grade so we could spend a decadent afternoon smoking. We felt exhilaratingly sinful and, also, disgustingly sick.
What we wore to school, by the way, is also a part of antiquity. In the 50s, there was the poodle skirt. This hideous creation was composed of a wide-swinging felt skirt featuring images of appliqued poodles. Later, we were ensconced in saddle shoes and sweater sets (and there was no escape)! If you were a girl, you never wore pants to school, and I mean never.
Meanwhile, there were stuffed dice hanging from mirrors in '57 Chevys and boys buying girls wrist corsages for the Prom (and pink carnations for themselves). There were massive cars with fins jutting out the back and engines that purred. There were soda fountains that served Phosphates and Brown Cows.
Sock hops and hula hoops were popular back then, along with Howdy Doody, Roy Rogers and The Cisco Kid. Fess Parker lurked in the background with his Davey Crockett coonskin hat. There was also Elvis Presley, James Dean, Ed Sullivan, and "I Love Lucy." All gone now. Over, Kaput.
All of these things are part of our fading past, and they all need to be written down lest they fade to black, and we are without the moving memories of an innocent and precious time.
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