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Early 50's Nostalgia

By Tom (tomWYO@aol.com)





Flat top, yes I was one of the flat top brigade. We had two barbers in the village Unc Biggs and Mr. Pollard. Mister Pollard lived around the road and was open on Friday night and all day Saturday while Unc was the older one and he was pretty much retired. But neither could do a flat top. So I would hitch hike to Bedford to Peg Wildman’s and get my hair cut. Frank Ferris was a young man and he could cut a flat top, so me along with most of the rest of the boys in the county all went to him.

Being ugly and not having the physique of Adonis, I didn’t have anything to show off but I did like a good flat top. Jeanette Turpin was a little petite blonde who got married in our Junior year and she would bring this small electric record player to school because she rode the bus that got to school first in the morning then made a second run and then after school it made a run and then came back and she was on the second bus. Anyway that was the first time I heard Johnny Ray. Walking my Baby back home, the little cloud that cried. I forgot what was on the flip side of his first record but she got the first one out and of course the second one out. Jeanette was cool because she was married and her husband had a job. Me, I loved musical movies. I memorized every song and a lot of the dialogue; however, I could not carry a tune in a number three wash tub.

Where I was raised was in the lower end of the Shenandoah Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia; a little village East of Roanoke on Rte 460 and the Norfolk and Western main line. The music of the area was country, just plain old Hillbilly. Some of the students played in bands and for dances and of course I liked the big band sounds and the popular music. Hated the Hillbilly stuff. After we got a car that had a radio I found that late on Saturday night if I parked in the right spot I could get WWL New Orleans on the radio. On Saturday night WWL broadcast live from the ball room of the Hotel Roosevelt in New Orleans. So every Saturday night me and what ever girl I was dating would park a certain place and listen to good music. And of course the girls seemed to be in a loving mood when they listened to big band music.

In Roanoke they would get good entertainment and sure enough Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughn came to Roanoke. It was colored entertainment but whites could buy tickets for the balcony. I will never forget hanging over that balcony and hearing him sing in that rich baritone voice. My girlfriend was scared someone would see her in a colored place. Yeah, that was before integration. Separate schools, separate movies, separate everything. If you were raised in it, you accepted it for regardless what you thought, that was the way it was and we lived it. I also saw Nat King Cole. Oh my first time to see integration was when I got to Parris Island South Carolina and Marine Corps boot camp. Funny but on the way down the white recruits were in one section and the black ones in another. When we got there they took us to a restaurant to eat. We ate in the restaurant while the blacks or colored had to go around and eat in the kitchen. But once we stepped foot on the base it was all integrated.

Home life or rather nights at home during those years was the radio. There were mysteries, Dr Keane tracer of lost persons and who can forget the squeaking door? Saturday night poppa listened to the grand old Opry but on Sunday night there was Jack Benny and Red Skelton and those type programs which the whole family listened to as we read or played games.

Yes, the late 40s and early 50s in the sticks was nice. When I met a lot of city folks I could not understand how they could live like they did where they did and do what they did. I guess I lived in the ideal place for a boy growing up. Guess I have bored you enough. Thanks for reading my thoughts and recollections.








 


THE FIFTIES, THE JUKE BOX, YOUNG LOVE, AND OLD LOVE!
I dedicate this piece to my dear husband of 54 years, Tom.
We may not have it all together, but together we have it all!

By Evelyn (Evenccw@aol.com)





It is 1951. The juke box sits quietly in the corner of the little dimly lit tavern. No nickels have been fed to pulsate its psychedelic innards Sipping their draft beers, a couple sits quietly, heads inclined together, as they read the foam images sliding down the sides of their pilsner glasses. Perchance, the images hold their future. When the last foam slides to the bottom of the glasses, the juke box is summoned . They dance on the tiny postage-stamp dance floor to “They Tried to Tell Us We’re Too Young,” “My Heart Cries for You,” and “Because of You.” Then he goes to war. They call it the Korean Conflict.

In 1952 the juke box is summoned to play “You Belong to Me,” “Blue Tango,” “I’m Yours,” “Kiss of Fire,” “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes,” and “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home.” He comes home on furlough. They are married. He goes to sea. She is always there on the docks as he sails out and returns. The juke box plays on to tunes of “Cry,” and “Auf Wiedersehen.”

In 1953 there are two waiting for him on the docks . Little Johnny has joined them! What an opportune time for “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” to appear in juke boxes everywhere! Though juke boxes had their fill of jive and boogie, the couple’s favorite songs continue to be the Hit Parade genre such as “Song from Moulin Rouge,” “Stranger in Paradise,” “Rags to Riches,” “How Much is that Doggie in the Window,” “No Other Love,” “April in Portugal,” “I’m Walking Behind You,” and Vaya con Dios.”

It is now 1954. The juke box sits quietly in the corner of the officers’ club. The couple sits quietly. As the foam slides down the sides of two pilsner glasses they once again read the images and ponder their future. The Korean Conflict has ended. They are being mustered back into civilian life. They slug the juke box and dance to “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Little Things Mean a Lot,” “Mister Sandman,” “Hey There,” “Let Me Go Lover,” “Hernando’s Hidaway,” and “Teach Me Tonight.” The Fifties aren’t half yet half over. Their dancing beat will quicken.

The couple resumes civilian life. They buy a home on a GI Bill Mortgage. Their family continues to grow. By 1959 there are four babies. In 1963 there will be six! When they become aware of the rock’n’ roll dance music that was the staple of American Bandstand they call a baby sitter and head back to the tavern. They continue to read their future in the foam as it slides down their pilsner glasses. As they slug the juke box they find that they can still jitter bug! By the end of the Fifties they are ready for Chubby Checker and the Twist craze!

Over the years the couple has slugged the juke box countless times and has stomped to “These Shoes Were Meant for Walkin.” Their fascination for disco keeps them young at heart! As time has flown, the foam on the pilsner glasses has slid to the bottom, it’s story has been told. When they slug the juke box , the song that you will most likely hear is Kay Starr’s:


“The Rock and Roll Waltz”


One night I was late, came home from a date
Slipped out of my shoes at the door
Then from the front room, I heard a jump tune
I looked in and here's what I saw


There in the night what a wonderful scene
Mom was dancing with Dad to my record machine
And while they danced, only one thing was wrong
They were trying to waltz to a rock and roll song!


a-one, two, and then rock
a-one, two, and then roll
They did the rock and roll waltz
a-rock, two, three, a-roll, two, three
It looked so cute to me
I love the rock and roll waltz


a-one, two, and then rock
a-one, two, and then roll
a-one, two, and then jump
It's good for your soul
It's old but it's new
Let's do the rock and roll waltz


There in the night what a wonderful scene
Mom was dancing with Dad to my record machine
And while they danced, only one thing was wrong
They were trying to waltz to a rock and roll song!


a-one, two, and then rock
a-one, two, and then roll
a-one, two, and then jump
It's good for your soul
It's old but it's new
Let's do the rock and roll waltz
Let's do the rock and roll waltz









 


LOST IN THE FIFTIES

By susi (Texaswishr@aol.com)





This picture made me feel really
"lost in the fifties"
When I was young and oh so silly
And everything was "nifty"


Herrlich's Drugstore's jukebox
never knew a quiet time
Always someone choosing a song
And dropping in a dime


Before that, while in high school
There was Hamad's dairy bar
Where hanging out was totally cool
From the nerds to the football star


The Burton Theatre was the greatest
From the Saturday shoot 'em up to love
All us younger kids sat downstairs
And the "lovers" took the balcony above


The Kewpee Hamburger shoppe was the best
And as a hangout it was for the elite
Who thought they were a cut above the rest
But the cars they had were really neat


The fifties were my good old days
The most fun years I can recall
I can still hear the music the jukebox played
And I remember, I remember it all!









 


The Fifties And Its Music

By Brier (Brierhillbarbara@aol.com)





My cousin James was a year ahead of me in school
He was tall and good looking.
we were soul mates in another life
or something.


We kids all headed to the dairy bar as we got off the bus.
I saved some change to feed the juke box.
It wasn't safe to dance with some of the guys
You'd get a bad name.


So Jim and I danced, I felt safe with him
And he knew how to dance.
I was a little bit mousey,
I named my first son James.


We had the best music and ice cream too
The dairy bar is still there but no music.
James married a red-headed girl,
They have a wonderful family.


I wonder if those kids can dance.
Not like we did,
We lived music,
It was a special time in our lives.









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