Automobiles were loaded to the dashboards with polished chrome, plastic seat covers, and high performance engines. Twenty cents a gallon for gasoline. Lucky Strikes cost a quarter. So did fat, juicy hamburgers. Guys wore T-shirts and tight pegged blue jeans. Barbers trimmed our crew cuts for seventy five cents. A handful sported duck tails. 

The girls did theirs up in pony tails or pin curls or you name it. Then sashayed into our classrooms showing off their colorful blouses and sexy poodle skirts. We flocked to the sock hops, high school football games, drive-in movies, basketball games, and those marvelous, never to be forgotten drive-in restaurants.

My favorite was the Southern Circle on Chapman Highway, which resided one block from Young High School. These unique places to park one’s wheels then order fries and a Coke brought to your car represented our drive-in country clubs. We discovered our destinies there. Our rights of passage. Stumbled over the English language making dates. Fell madly in love. Vowed to be together till the end of time. Fell out of love. Discovered alcohol and tobacco. Formed a host of lasting friendships. Some encountered their soul mates. We met Johnny Law there too. Babe Maloy’s was another asphalt carousel of teenage intrigue a mile further north toward town. But all in all, it was good, wholesome fun, and we were proud as peacocks just to be Americans. 

For those of you who didn’t make the scene during the 1950’s and drive-in restaurants

or the magic of Clyde McPhatter, and Martha And The Vandellas, or Hank Ballard And The Midnighters, you’ll never understand nor fully appreciate Xanadu. The atmosphere was heavy laden with mystery and all those intangibles we dreamt about as children. 

A crack had opened in the universe, and the cosmic images and events that came through can never be duplicated nor resurrected ever again. They bled into our hearts and the 

very depths of our souls.

In The Still Of The Night, Little Darlin’, Could This Be Magic, Why Do Fools Fall 

In Love, Maybe, Earth Angel, Sweet Dreams. These lovely tunes were the marvelous tip of a fantastic and vibrant iceberg. Patsy Cline, Nat King Cole, Roy Orbison, Marilyn Monroe, and, of course, Ol’ Blue Eyes. Hundreds of artists like these made us laugh and cry. World power was shifting. We loved

Bogart, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet. Eisenhower became our 34th president. We agonized over Brando in The Wild One, and James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause. Our world was happy and secure. We didn’t care about Joe Stalin and his stupid Iron Curtain. Not yet, anyway. We were cool, Dad-E-O.

This is not to suggest life was perfect. Far from it. But the difference then was the noble 

way folks treated one another. I knew every family on my street. So did the rest of my high school menagerie. There were the usual tears and fist fights, insecurity and broken dreams, but we were just different. The whole country was different. World War Two and the Great Depression had molded some pretty incredible human beings. We were the children of those incredible human beings. And they wanted us to have all the things they never had growing up. I miss my mama and daddy, and their swell friends. I miss their laughter and humor and their sincere love of life and children. 

Yes, the 1950’s were truly amazing. They were about hope and faith and charity and 

one’s honor. They were about John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, John Ford and Ernest Hemingway. They brought civil rights to the forefront for black Americans. Space rockets and black and white television. Howdy Doody and air conditioning and nuclear power. I cannot accurately address all this. It had to be lived to be understood. I can no more describe the glory days of Chuck Berry and Fats Domino than I can explain the core of Saturn or sub-atomics or the Baby Jesus. But they were real because I witnessed them. I was there for a brief and wonderful ten years. I cherish the 1950’s. They formed and shaped my generation in a miraculous way which now appears lost, and perhaps extinct. 

A part of America died when we passed over into the 1960’s and Vietnam. 

My Prayer was a melancholy love song by The Platters. My prayer for all of you is 

that someday, somehow, we can return to a happier time similar to those fabulous fifties. Today’s politicians and today’s political correctness are depressing to no end. Young High School is gone now and so are most of these talented singers, actors, and musicians. Please, God. Show us a way back. Come rescue your lost children. Please, God. Amen.

Larry Henry   

Author: Garden of Eden, Plato’s Cave & Noah’s Ark                        

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