Update to NOTEFLIX’s “Troubles in the Garden”: During a break from our production schedule, our hero, The Multicolored Bluebird of Happiness is taking a nap. All tucked in (Lower Left), see him dreaming of his younger days – when he was a happy go-lucky chirp of a thing, playing in a field of Daffodils. (There he is in the dream….see Lower Right.) Nothing on this life of dreams is perfect forever, however, and if you squint you can see a dream premonition of darkness ahead. (See the purple splotch above Baby Bird’s location? …This is a foreboding of the arrival of Bork, the Angry and Purple Slug – who will cause all sorts of problems later in reality.)
(In this post, we will take a trip down “Memory Lane”, which might be interesting, even to those who have not travelled this road before.)
It was the ’50’s:
“Hello hello again
Sh-boom and hopin’ we’ll meet again
Hey nonny ding dong, alang alang alang (sh-boom)
Ba-doh, ba-doo ba-doodle-ay
Life could be a dream…” (-The Chords, 1954, written by J. Edwards, F. McRae, Carl & Claude Feaster, J.Keyes)
It was a time of “DOO-WOP”, which had been around for twenty years; but it finally went ‘Mainstream’. Teenagers were known to walk around making funny, nonsensical, sounds with their mouths – having been influenced by this form of entertainment.
Times seemed simpler then. On the surface, life seemed ridiculously simple. It was the early ’50’s and life could be a dream:
- What’s life?
That’s life. (- early ’50’s saying)
- Tennessee Williams mounted a play a year, for four years, on Broadway, starting with “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone” going on to “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”…Those were great days for American Theater.
- “Sunset Boulevard” hit the screen.
- “Ragg Mopp” was on the charts – along with “Good night Irene”…showing that the late ’40’s were not quite over. Sh-boom and hopin’ we’ll meet again.
- The worlds population was 2.3 billion. (Today it’s what? 8 billion.) TV sales in 1950 were 1.5 million. The next year the number went to 15 million. And we watched this number grow.
- Truman relieved General McArthur of command, saying the General was acting too independently and was a threat to a non-military guided country.
- J D Salinger came out with “Catcher in the Rye”. It was so good, he never had to write another book. The African Queen was the Blockbuster of the year. Johnie Ray, who was partially deaf, and had a “Tear-inflected” delivery, would cup a hand over an ear and belt out “Cry” to the hysterical screams of his female teen-age fans. This sort of thing went on for several years.
- Color TV was introduced to the market. The TV market, for many years, could not conceive of any reason why to watch Color TV – except for Football Games. The public could see why Football Games could be in color. Hank Marino was elected the American Bowler of the Half Century. Hey nonny ding dong, alang alang alang (sh-boom)
- Max Theiler got a Nobel for his Yellow Fever vaccine.
- Norman Vincent Peale’ s “Power of Positive Thinking” was about to change things.
- Two years back, Hemingway wrote “Across the river….’, which did not sell well and rumors were going around that his writing days were finished. So, he wrote ‘The Old Man and the Sea” which was a metaphor for his life…and he took home a Pulitzer for it. Hello hello again. Life could be a dream.
- “High Noon” was the Big Western – back when the good guys won.
- Hank Williams, who had recently died, topped the charts for the umpteenth time with “Jambalaya”.
- The first Contraceptive pill is produced.
- “Battle Cry” was on the Bestseller List. Two years later it became a blockbuster Army movie, replete with the ‘Stars’ of the day ….Aldo Ray, Van Heflin,,,you must know them. The Army would set up ‘induction’ tables outside the movie theaters – and they got a lot of young patriots to sign up for a hitch after seeing the movie. Casino Royale was published, but Ian Flaming’s novels did not go on the Bestseller list until eight years later – when Jack Kennedy said ‘Bond” was his favorite character. “Roman Holiday” and “From Here to Eternity” were the films to see. “Everybody knew the words to “How much is that Doggie in the Window” – whether they liked it or not.
- A study came out professing Lung cancer was attributable to cigarette smoking.
- Tolkien’s trilogy “Lord of the Rings” was published to good reviews; but low sales. It would take another 10 years, and a rave review in the New York Times Book Review section before it would be a monster selling sensation. Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” was published the same year. As you can see, the early ’50’s was a good time for novels. Movies were good, too – with “On the Waterfront” and “Rear Window” being among the faves. Remember, this was when you could go to the theater and see all the good movies, easily, in a year…and pay a quarter and sit back and smoke anywhere you wanted to. Nobody had read the 1953 study yet – or if the had, they did not take it seriously. Hey nonny ding dong, Life could be a dream.
- Jonas Salk started vaccinating schoolchildren with the anti-polio serum.
- 29 million homes have TV. “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett” was a top rated show – as was “Father Knows Best”. This was before ‘binge-watching’ and shows where people got stuffed into vats of acid for stealing each other’s drugs and things like that.
- The U.S. contained 6% of the world’s population but had 60% of all cars, 58% of all telephones, 45% of all radio sets, and 34% of all railroads.
- Arnold Palmer won the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship. Vic Seixas won the Amateur Tennis trophy. These were the days when Amateur Sports were still the big thing and even if you were the ‘Best in the World’ at some (most) sports – you could not make a penny off of it.
- As far as most people knew, the only drug addicts in America were jazz musicians.
BUT, there were other things going on in those days, events which could bring significant changes to the mindset and culture of the country:
- During those ‘Happy Times’, the U.S., Russia and Britain exploded Atomic bombs. Plutonium was discovered. Atomic Energy plants proved they could produce electricity. The U.S. built an atomic powered Submarine and an atomic powered Aircraft Carrier. The U.S. Exploded a hydrogen bomb. Within twelve months, the Russians did the same. The concept of the “Doomsday Clock” came into being. “The Powers that be” realized they did not know what to do with Nuclear Waste. The assumption being, the scientists would figure it all out in the future. Across the land, upon occasion, Sirens blared at twelve noon for Air raid drills. The schoolchildren were ducking under their desks, practicing “What to do” in case of a nuclear attack from the Russians, the “Commies”. And the “’50’s’ were only at the half-way mark. Hey nonny ding dong, alang alang alang (sh-boom).
And the ’50’s really begin to crank up in the next few years.
- “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” – L.P. Hartey, writer