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’ve survived all the rigors the Fifties afforded…?
(Ha!) A Darwin Award’s ALL 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.
All specialized stores selling just tools or shoes--
Oh, how you’d besinging them 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 would patiently wait.
One TV per household—and it’sblack & 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, like in a lifeboat,
packed like sardines ‘round the TV we’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 even the smaller ones crafted in wood
weighed twenty pounds or more, solid and good…
No 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 them models we bought.
Took 55 seconds to warm up and so:
you had to learn patience: the sound came up slow.
And oldies were all that the radio’d play
(‘course they were the top forty tunes of the day)…
Oh, one feature (lacking) you’d surely condemn:
FM was unheard of: we just got AM,
so some thunder storm’s lightning strikes counties away
interrupted, with static, our radio-play.
Just one punch-bowl-sized speaker— no stereo then:
just staticky “hi-fi” is what we tuned in!
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?
Well you’d better sit down, kid: this might make you cringe--
on puzzles and board games and card games we’d binge:
Monopoply, Scrabble, and Cribbage, Go Fish…
and Freeze Tag or Hide-‘n-go-seek if we wished.
You top guns of that new, hi-tech video game?
Well 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 them black…
like a buffalo herd when left parking in lots…
their big steering wheels could “hold course” for large yachts!
Back seats so roomy 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 out of the back—
a phenomenon back then primarily dealt
by the absence in cars of a single seat belt!
Yes, the world was a hazardous threat to one’s health:
On sidewalks and highways 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 ankle get clamped in dogs’ jaws-like-a-vise?
We were hunted 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— all of them thugs!
You’d have scars on your ankles or forearms or butts
if you somehow survived this harassment of mutts!
But if dogs didn’t getcha, you’d be gotten at school:
the discipline policies you won’t find “cool”…
Corporal punishment? physical force?
Getting pinned ‘gainst a locker? All a matter of course…
and 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 6 foot 2
(was a shaven gorilla procured from some zoo).
Male teachers: drill sergeants, wrestlers, ex-cons!
The lschool mar’ms 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, right? I’m wasting your time…
Oh, 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 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! Don’t 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’ve said quite enough…!