The first of the fifties, boy, we had it rough
you’d never’ve made it—hell, you’d lack the stuff!
You believe you’re sufficiently physically fit…
that emotionally, spiritually, you’ve got the grit
to have survived all the rigors the fifties afforded?
A Darwin Award is what you’d be awarded!
Imagine a world where there aren’t any malls!
(I know it—a horrid idea that appalls!)
No place to hang out on a weekend all day
(and be free from the rain wind or snow, by the way).
Uptown or down, all the shops were spread out
so to “shop till you drop” meant a mile walkabout.
The specialized stores sold just tools… or just shoes…
Imagine yousinging those No-Walmart Blues?
There were no Golden Arches, not one fast-food joint,
so a quest for fast burgers? You’d think, What’s the point?
No Kentucky fried drive-throughs, no styrofoam plate.
In your restaurant booth you’d learn to patiently wait.
ONE TV per household—and it’s black and white
just one channel broadcast, and only at night
no color, no cable, just 10-inch-wide screens
meek violence, no r-rated nudity scenes
and no household then owned a single remote
your family’d crowd ‘round as if in a lifeboat
packed in like sardines round that TV you’d sit
like cave people ‘witched by the night-fire pit…
Most radios back then were dishwasher-size,
polished oak chassis—a sight for sore eyes!
And most of the smaller were crafted in wood
and weighed twenty pounds or more, solid and good.
It wasn’t some boom box to shoulder downtown.
Plugged-in. In the parlor. Sundown to sundown.
Inside, huge vacuum tubes, oven-red-hot
explains the grand size of the models we got.
Took 55 seconds to warm up! And so
you had to learn patience: the sound came up slow.
Oldies were all that the radio’d play
(‘course they were top forty new tunes of the day).
Oh, one feature (lacking) you’d surely condemn
fm was unheard of: you just got am
so lightning from any storm counties away
interrupted, with static, the radio-play.
One punch-bowl-sized speaker— no stereo then:
just static-y “hi-fi” is what we tuned in.
Not a single computer in anyone’s home.
You’d suffer No Chat Room No E-mail Syndrome!
No passwords, dot.coms, no website user names!
No .mp3 downloads, no videogames!
No printers, no scanners: you haven’t a clue,
So you must be like: What the hell they all do?
Well you’d better sit down: this might make you cringe.
On puzzles and board games and cards we might binge
Monopoply, Scrabble, and Cribbage, Go Fish
Freeze Tag and Hide-‘n-Go-Seek, if you wish
You top guns of that hi-tech video game?
We cool pinball wizards had our halls of fame.
Unpleasant details? Getting weak in the knees?
Thought life in the fifties would just be a breeze?
Most cars big as boxcars derailed from the track
Unwieldy, cumbersome—most of them black
Like a buffalo herd when left parking in lots
Their big steering wheels could “hold course” for large yachts!
Their back seats so roomy you could dribble a ball
and transport the ball team, its mascot, and all
With something called suicide doors, with the knack
of ejecting your passengers out of the back—
a phenomenon back then primarily dealt
by the absence in cars of a single seatbelt.
The world was a hazardous threat to one’s health;
on highways and sidewalks you’d venture with stealth.
Though there were no signs warning “Tygers be here,”
dogs free-roamed in “wolf-packs” inspiring fear
(when there are no leash laws to curb your wild curs
a hound of the baskerville lifestyle occurs).
A ride on your bike was a roll of the dice:
would your leg become clamped in those jaws-like-a-vise?
You’d be hounded and hunted and hamstrung again
by some psychotic Lassie or crazed Rin Tin Tin.
My town was patrolled by these Great Danes and Pugs
and Airedales and Boxers— all of them thugs.
You’d have scars on your ankles or forearms or butts
if you lived (and survived) the harassment of mutts
And if dogs didn’t getcha, you’d be gotten at school;
the discipline policies you won’t find “cool”:
corporal punishment! physical force?
Being pinned ‘gainst a locker? A matter of course.
And before you blurt, “They’d never do that to me!”
Keep in mind: with these rules did our parents agree--
Keep in mind that the principal stood 6 foot 2
A shaven gorilla procured from the zoo.
Male teachers? Drill sergeants, wrestlers, ex-cons!
And the ladies were ex-prison camp commandants.
They’d threaten you, traumatize, torture, and scheme--
No one gave a rat’s ass then for your “self- esteem.”
But I’m wasting my breath and I’m wasting your time.
I could go on and continue this rhyme
But you’re rolling your eyes, and your sneer is so smug
And you fidget and shuffle, impatiently shrug
you see this old man stand before you and rant
(and to say something you want to hear, well I can’t).
So: long story short—I’ll sum up and be brief
Here it is, my advice, my sincerest belief:
If ever a Time Machine’s left in your yard
With the key in the blinking ignition: try hard
To ignore it ! Just say NO to travel in time!
If you must, though, go forward! It would be a crime
to go back to the fifties, to rewind the clocks
like in Back to the Future, with Michael J. Fox
when you’re so ill-prepared when that going gets tough…
I am finished…
I’ve said quite enough.