Through a kind of strange synchronicity, we all are being collectively catapulted back to the summer of 1959 when girls wore crinolines and ponytails, and guys wore I.D. bracelets and no ponytails.
A rumor swirled among the prisoners that the Japanese hoarded warehouses full of letters and packages intended for the American troops. When the Red Cross did deliver the first mail from home, a near frenzy broke among the prisoners as they surrounded the guard hut and stood for two hours while the censored mail was distributed.
I was her youngest granddaughter and she took me under her wing in the kitchen. It was a lost cause, however, because even a simple thing like cupcakes turned out like hockey pucks when I tried to make them.
Things then went quite smoothly, considering the heat. When we left to start our honeymoon the ushers sang us out to the strains of "Goodnight Irene." My aunt went with me to help me change.
And that’s when it hit me. I was married! Omigawd, what do I do now?
Only Mama, as I called her, and I knew how all that good behavior came about. If she so much as suspected I was up to mischief, she delivered this whispered warning: “Pssst! Don’t forget the German Police Dog behind the living room couch. He’ll come out and bite you if you are bad.”
I stomped on the jacket with my cowboy boots, rubbing it into the dirt and dust until it had a patina of crud on it. Now it looks like a real cowboy’s coat, I thought. I brought it back and proudly hung it in Jack Klugman’s dressing room.
Each of these churches had only one room and that was used for Sunday worship, Sunday School and all other events. Couples got married there. Funerals and community gatherings were held in the same room. Members, most with tough hands and sun-drenched faces, laughed, shed tears, felt a togetherness seldom known in today's society.
The principal delivered a harsh lecture while the sister held Mike by the scruff of his neck and my mother continued to weep. Out of the goodness of her heart, said the principal, she would spare the rod this time but if anything remotely resembling this particular breach ever occurred again, we would not be so lucky. We were sent home in disgrace.
When I looked at myself in the mirror Shirley Temple did not look back at me. The stringy blonde locks that had previously hung down to my shoulders like coils of dirty rope, were no longer there. I found not one ringlet either sausage-style, banana-style or Shirley-style.
Each souvenir from my 1955 engagement is tangible proof of a persona and this event. Who, today, would press a fax between pages of a special scrapbook?
The Andrews Sisters may well be remembered by their service during World War II, entertaining troops. That’s something you don’t see much of now from film stars or celebrities. The sisters sold War Bonds and traveled to all major theaters of war.
"You let your brother steal my boat!" I shouted with a smile. And then started laughing in disbelief that my future wife saw me long before we met.
There were about 8,000 cars but only 145 miles of paved roads. Fuel for autos was sold at drug stores. So were marijuana, morphine, and heroin. There were only about 250 murders reported in the entire country.
I felt quite the adult as service station attendants scurried around my car: “Fill ‘er up sir?” Clean your windshield sir? “The oil is down half a quart sir.” Not only was I being addressed as sir, gas was only 26 cents a gallon and air was absolutely free!
Satchmo became known not only as a trumpet player and singer but also as a bandleader, film star and comedian. Not bad for a kid raised in poverty whose father left home and whose mother turned to prostitution. He was brought up by his grandmother.
And then they disappeared, going the way of Gumby and Pokey, Mr. Bill and Mr. Potato Head. Yet there they were again in my gift catalogues — the appealing little dolls in an assortment of colors and sizes, replicas embroidered onto cuddly lap blankets, and fashioned into scarves, winter hats and slippers.
The cartoon that won Mauldin the Pulitzer in 1945 was captioned “Fresh-spirited American troops, flushed with victory…” The cartoon depicted wretched, drenched, mud-caked, unshaven infantrymen slogging through a downpour.
I am chatting with friends about homework assignments, the cute boy who just moved from Charleston, the new Revlon lipstick color, my hot pair of Weejuns and Friday's Sadie Hawkins Day Dance. We take turns talking and we flap our hands a lot.
Of course, you could follow the advice of Groucho Marx who had a long-running show of his own: “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
Coolidge was mocked by such notables as H.L. Mencken: Coolidge “slept more than any other president, whether by day or by night”, and Dorothy Parker, when she heard Coolidge had died, asked: “How could they tell?”
Nevertheless, in its fifth decade it was yellowed with age. It became a dress-up costume when my daughter and her cousin discovered their mothers’ wedding gowns packed in brittle tissue in a
high box in my parents’ back bedroom.
She was the loudest, and the flashiest of Auntie’s customers. She was, in fact, the widow of the legendary Hank Williams. She was by far the liveliest of Aunt M’s dignified customers, and one could always hear her before they could see her.
Besides the toaster, I received a passport size savings account book that showed exactly how much money I had in the bank’s huge vault. There was never an avalanche of mailed statements packed with aggressive advertising, and there wasn’t any Internet banking that’s vulnerable to cyber criminals.
The theme of Spaghetti Westerns often revolved around a soap opera of revenge, money, greed, pride, betrayal and violence, but always with a hero who has been wronged in some fashion and must set things straight by hook or by crook.
He was a man, sometimes looked down on by Ivy League school graduates, and ignored by some Congressional leaders, yet history has proven this simple Midwesterner had more common sense and human sensitivity than his famous, polished contemporaries.
"For God's sake," he scoffed, "one of the poorest, most downtrodden human beings I ever met was a writer. Don't tell anybody you want to be that. You better have a backup plan, kid."
Perhaps morality of the 1950s sent me a sub-conscious message: this glowing naked body was inappropriate to bring back to a place where death had so recently visited.
A plot soon hatched and one bold gunner relieved him of a choice bottle. After that, I learned a new word I heard the captain use rather heatedly: “Some s.o.b. (he didn’t abbreviate) has absconded with a bottle of my best whiskey!” I didn’t need to look up the meaning of “absconded,” as I was part of the plot.
It’s the best holiday of the year for some of us -- hot weather to enjoy, not like snow and cold on Xmas, nor rainy parades at Easter. The 4th of July is a time to get outdoors in the sun to celebrate, and not to sit in the living room or around a dying tree.
My senility notwithstanding, one would have to agree that most of today's cars look to be cold techno toys, not unlike scary UFOs.
At the time of our requested departure by management there were a dozen or so people living there and the line between when one party ended and the next party started became a blur.
The way you placed the stamp on the envelope told your guy or gal receiving the letter the secrets of your heart. Mothers, fathers and little sisters could take your letter to the corner mailbox without realizing the message right before their eyes.
My father attempted to explain that a dime was equal to two nickels. I didn't believe him. My smooth-edged circles were larger and had more designs on them. No one could fool me; I was six and smart.
Ladies, if your slip was showing in 1955, someone might’ve told you that “your pinky’s out of jail.” Gentlemen, if you found yourself stuck with the family station wagon on prom night, you had to transport your date in a “tank,” but that might’ve increased your chances of playing a game of “backseat bingo.”
As a young child, I regarded none of this as a sacrifice, since it was the only way of life I knew. I sensed that our family and neighbors were taking part in some mysterious but worthy global effort, the causes and implications of which were beyond my understanding. But I found it rather exciting, and with the trust of childhood, I enthusiastically joined in and did my part.
The front-line troops had it even tougher with 25-mile full-pack hikes in the sand or into the swamps, all the time keeping an eye out for rattlers, scorpions and alligators. To say nothing of millions of mosquitoes.
Ah, now I understood. It was definitely a surprise. But for me, the best gift was to hear that my son paid attention when I talked – at least sometimes -- and saw the wisdom in how I did things. On his own, he’d recognized a need and filled it.
Another onlooker doubles over with laughter and when my mother sees herself in the mirror, she laughs harder than those around her. Imagine, that ability to laugh at yourself and not be afraid of what others think, except maybe your family?
In a recent interview from his home in Houston, Texas, Drury admits “I’m very proud of the show and I believe in the Cowboy Way it represents: If it isn’t true, don’t say it. If it isn’t yours, don’t take it. If it isn’t right, don’t do it.
Al Gore would be extremely pleased to learn that most components from the mammoth TV have already been melted down and flowed into the pool of raw material used to manufacture As-Seen-on-TV products.
For others, Veterans Memorial Day is like Thanksgiving Day. Thanks for the GI Bill that allowed me to get a decent education and thus a decent job when I returned from duty. Thanks for the veterans loan to help me purchase a house for my family and me.
Calendars continued to change numbers, as did our ages, and I waited for “special time” to cease. When it didn’t, I thought of a more permanent way for the teen to remember our relationship once I’m no longer alive. Grandma and Me was going to become a personal story he didn’t know I was keeping.