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 survive all the rigors the Fifties afforded?
A Darwin Award is what you’d be awarded!
Imagine a world where there ain’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…
Specialized stores selling just tools or shoes--
Imagine you singing them No-Walmart Blues!
And no Golden Arches! Not one fast-food joint
so a quest for fast burgers? You’d sigh, What’s the point?
No Kentucky Fried drive-through, no styrofoam plate…
in that restaurant booth you’d just 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 ten-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 the TV you’d sit
like Cave People ‘witched by the night-fire pit!
And radios back then were dishwasher-size,
polished oak chassis—a sight for sore eyes!
Even the ‘small ones’ was crafted in wood
and weighed twenty pounds or more, solid and good.
They wasn’t some “boom box” you'd shoulder downtown:
plugged-in… in the parlor… sundown to sundown!
And inside: huge vacuum tubes, oven-red-hot
explains the grand size of them models we’d got.
Took sixty seconds to warm up, and so...
you had to learn patience: the sound come up slow.
And Oldies was all that the radio’d play
(‘course they was the top forty tunes of the day).
Oh! One feature (lacking) you’d surely condemn
FM was unheard of: you just got AM…
so a thunder storm’s lightning from counties away
interrupted, with static, your radio-play.
One punch-bowl-sized speaker— no stereo then--
just static-y Hi-Fi's what we tuned in!
And not a single computer in anyone’s home:
you’d suffer No-Chatroom-No-Email Syndrome!
No passwords, no dot.coms, no web user names,
no .mp3 downloads, no videogames…
No printers, no scanners: You ain’t got a clue!
So you must be like: What the hell’d you all do?
You better sit down, kid: this might make you cringe--
on puzzles and board games and cards we might binge:
Monopoly, Scrabble, and Cribbage, Go Fish,
or Freeze tag or 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.
What…? Unpleasant details? Getting weak in the knees?
Thought life in the fifties was just one big breeze?
Most cars big as boxcars derailed from the track,
unwieldy, cumbersome—most of ‘em black…
like a buffalo herd when left parking in lots
those big steering wheels could “hold course” for large yachts!
Back seats so huge you could dribble the ball
and transport the ball team, its mascot, and all!
With something called ‘Suicide Doors’ with the knack
of ejecting your passengers right out the back--
a phenomenon back then primarily dealt
by the absence in cars of a single seat belt!
Yup, the world was a hazardous threat to one’s health!
On highways and sidewalks we ventured with stealth…
Though there were no signs warning “Tygers be here,”
dogs free-roamed in ‘wolf-packs’ inspiring fear:
‘cause when there’s no leash laws to curb your wild curs
a Hound of the Baskervilles' lifestyle occurs!
A ride on your bike was a roll of the dice!
Your ankle’d get clamped in those jaws-like-a-vise!
You’d be hounded and hamstrung again and again
by some psychotic Lassie or crazed Rin Tin Tin!
My town was patrolled by such Great Danes and pugs
and Airedales and Boxers— and all of them thugs!
You’d have scars on your ankles and forearms and butts
if you lived… and survived this harassment of mutts!
But if dogs didn’t getcha… you’d get gotten at school
by a Discipline Policy you’d not find 'cool.'
Corporal punishment? Physical force?
Gettin’ pinned ‘gainst a locker? A matter of course!
But before you blurt out, “They’d not do that to me!”
keep in mind: with these rules did our parents agree!
Keep in mind: that the principal stood six foot two…
was a shaven gorilla escaped from some zoo!
Male teachers…? Drill sergeants, wrestlers, ex-cons!
The ladies…? Some ex-prison camp commandants
who’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…
Hell, I could go on and continue this rhyme
but you’re rolling your eyes and your sneer looks so smug…
and you fidget and shuffle… impatiently shrug--
‘cause you see this old man stand before you and rant,
and to say something you want to hear… well… he 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! 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 them clocks…
like in Back to the Future, with Michael J. Fox…
ill-prepared, as you are, if the going gets tough…
Never mind…! Guess I’m finished…
Guess I’ve said…