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Monday, February 21, 2011

Skipping Through the Halls of Memories

In addition to my storytelling and historical reenactment, I provide various oral history or memoir writing workshops, but this is a first for me. . . I was asked if I could do a program on the 1950s.  
True to my theatre training I said "Of course."  Ever since, I've been busily working on my own oral history of growing up in that era. 

Here are links you might use if you, too, want to create a program, history unit, a reunion, or just enjoy your own memories of the 1950s 
(o.k. most of these will also work for the '40s, '60s, and even the '70s)
  • Those Good Ol' Days is a personal favorite as it originated on Storytell, an international email list of storytellers.  We didn't just cover the '50s as there are tellers of all ages on the list.  This can generate a lot of memories and ideas as our online brainstorming went in many directions.  
  • Fifties Web bills itself as "The internet's oldest '50s and '60s site" (online since 1996).  It shows something sure to appeal to many in my Motown region: vintage cars complete with prices.  Want trivia or facts about t.v. shows? It's here.  There are other trivia games and word searches plus special topic games of Hangman you can play opposite the computer.  Music is covered for each year with special attention to Elvis, the Beatles, American Bandstand, and the Mickey Mouse Club.  Fashion, fads, slang, pop history, prices, inventions, important people and events are covered for both decades.  There are special sections on celebrity deaths, movie quotes, Burma Shave ads, and the Kennedy Assassination.  They also sell classic t.v. shows on DVD and VHS.
  • Perhaps The Past Is a Blast isn't as long on the web as the previous source, but it covers from the '20s to the '70s with Nostalgia Quizzes in addition to selling radio shows in MP3 format and unusual vintage movies of things like fashion, those movie "Coming Attractions" segments, classic t.v. commercials, wartime newsreels, and even more.
  • I'm a big believer in reviewing timelines when considering history.  Both the Wikipedia List of Timelines and also the Timeline Archive have their strengths and shortcomings, but are worth checking.
  • Here's a sweet resource, Old Time Candy sells memories you can eat, including '50s party favors and goody bags.  There's a wide selection of vintage candies from the '50s, '60s, and '70s.  I'd forgotten dumping out Fizzies on my tongue for "an instant sparkling drink" and those candy cigarettes would horrify today's parents!
  • Finally here's one of those wonderful email FWDs whose work has joined the volumes by A. Nony Mouse.  It's called "I Double Dog Dare Ya!
DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN...?

All the girls had ugly gym uniforms?

It took five minutes for the TV warm up?

Nearly everyone's Mom was at home when the kids got home from school?

Nobody owned a purebred dog?

When a quarter was a decent allowance?

You'd reach into a muddy gutter for a penny?

Your Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces?

All your male teachers wore neckties and female teachers had
their hair done every day and wore high heels?

You got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped,
without asking, all for free, every time?
And you didn't pay for air? And, you got trading stamps to boot?

Laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box?

It was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner
at a real restaurant with your parents?

They threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed. . and they did?

When a 57 Chevy was everyone's dream car...to cruise,
peel out, lay rubber or watch submarine races, and people went steady?

No one ever asked where the car keys were
because they were always in the car,
in the ignition, and the doors were never locked?

Lying on your back in the grass with your friends
and saying things like, "That cloud looks like a ."

and playing baseball with no adults to help kids with the rules of the
game?

Stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals
because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger?

And with all our progress, don't you just wish, just once,
you could slip back in time and savor the slower pace,
and share it with the children of today?

When being sent to the principal's office was nothing
compared to the fate that awaited the student at home?
Basically we were in fear for our lives,
but it wasn't because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, etc.

Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat!
But we survived because their love was greater than the threat.

Send this on to someone who can still remember
Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Laurel and Hardy,
Howdy Dowdy and the Peanut Gallery,
the Lone Ranger, The Shadow Knows,
Nellie Bell, Roy and Dale, Trigger and Buttermilk.

As well as summers filled with bike rides, baseball games,
Hula Hoops, bowling and visits to the pool,
and eating Kool-Aid powder with sugar.
Didn't that feel good, just to go back and say, "Yeah, I remember that"?

I am sharing this with you today
because it ended with a double dog dare to pass it on.
To remember what a double dog dare is, read on.
And remember that the perfect age is somewhere between
old enough to know better and too young to care.

How many of these do you remember?

Candy cigarettes
Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside
Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles
Coffee shops with tableside jukeboxes
Blackjack, Clove and Teaberry chewing gum
Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers
Newsreels before the movie
P.F. Fliers

Telephone numbers with a word prefix...(Raymond 4-601).
Party lines

Peashooters
Howdy Dowdy
45 RPM records
Green Stamps
Hi-Fi's

Metal ice cubes trays with levers
Mimeograph paper
Beanie and Cecil
Roller-skate keys
Cork pop guns
Drive ins
Studebakers
Washtub wringers
The Fuller Brush Man
Reel-To-Reel tape recorders
Tinkertoys
Erector Sets
The Fort Apache Play Set
Lincoln Logs
15 cent McDonald hamburgers

5 cent packs of baseball cards -
with that awful pink slab of bubble gum
Penny candy
35 cent a gallon gasoline
Jiffy Pop popcorn
Do you remember a time when...

Decisions were made by going "eeny-meeny-miney-moe"?
Mistakes were corrected by simply exclaiming, "Do Over!"?
"Race issue" meant arguing about who ran the fastest?
Catching the fireflies could happily occupy an entire evening?
It wasn't odd to have two or three "Best Friends"?

The worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex was "cooties"?
Having a weapon in school meant being caught with a slingshot?
A foot of snow was a dream come true?

Saturday morning cartoons weren't 30-minute commercials for action figures?
"Oly-oly-oxen-free" made perfect sense?
Spinning around, getting dizzy, and falling down was cause for giggles?

The worst embarrassment was being picked last for a team?
War was a card game?
Baseball cards in the spokes transformed any bike into a motorcycle?
Taking drugs meant orange-flavored chewable aspirin?
Water balloons were the ultimate weapon?

If you can remember most or all of these, then you have lived!!!!!!!

Pass this on to anyone who may need a break from
their "grown-up" life . . .I double-dog-dare-ya!


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