June 10, 2011

The Torch is passed (again)

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:22 pm

People who graduated from high school fifty years ago this month may want to indulge in a bit of nostalgia by exhuming a transcript of their commencement speech and having their lawyer take a closer look at it. Were all of that year’s inspiring words more of a variation of the “campaign promises” concept or did those inspirational words come with an implied guarantee? If so, it might be time to adhere to one of the basic principles established in the Constitution, by America’s founding fathers: “Sue the bastards!”

Would it be an example of poignancy if a kid who got a brand new car as a high school graduation present in June of 1961 were still driving that same car today? In the Spring of 1961, the last B-52 rolled off the Boeing production line and many of them are still in use to this very day.

What else hasn’t changed since the class of 1961 was promised a better world?

Before turning the keys to the White House over to Jack Kennedy, the departing president (a general from WWII), had warned folks not to let the military industrial complex become America’s guiding light (at the end of the tunnel?). It didn’t take long for the new young President to send American troops, as advisors, abroad doing the political version of what “location scouts” do for movie making.

Radio soap operas were transitioning into TV series, but when that class had started high school in the Fall of 1957, many of them were still available on radio. The radio audience had wondered, like Helen Trent, could a woman, after her 35th birthday, find romance? It would be well into the 70’s before that question would become relevant to the class of 1961.

What ever happened to “Our Gal Sunday”? She was, as listeners were informed at the start of each broadcast, someone “from the little mining town of Silver Creek, Colorado,” and she had “in young womanhood married England’s most handsome lord, Lord Henry Brinthrope.” How did that work out for her?

What ever happened to: “Aunt Jenny,” “Young Doctor Malone,” “Just Plain Bill,” “Ma Perkins,” and/or “Nora Drake”?

The members of the graduation class of 1961 are sure to be retired and collecting their Social Security checks by now and so they will have plenty of leisure time to look up the fate of those fictional characters on the Internets.

Was it a remarkable co-inky-dink or symbolism that one high school in Scranton Pa, for their class trip, went to New York City and saw “Pollyanna” at the Radio City Music Hall”?

For the class of 1961, it was just like Bill Graham would put it a bit later in time: “Ladies and gentlemen; it’s all about to happen!” Back then, the Nostalgia craze wouldn’t start until Susan Suntag’s essay “Notes on Camp” got published.

By the time the class of 1961 would celebrate the tenth anniversary of their graduation, America would make numerous cultural changes. The Beatles would erase Duane Eddy from the position of favorite guitarist. The Ford Motor Company would produce the first Mustang (and Carol Shelby would work his magic on them). Folks would also learn the geography lesson that answered the question: “Where the hell is Vietnam?”

When the class of 1961 entered high school in the Fall of 1957, one of the Dorsey brothers would release the last Big Band hit, “So Rare.” By the time they graduated, “On the Road” had been reprinted in a paperback edition and coffee house poetry was all the rage. The adults were very alarmed that the beatnik lifestyle seemed to have a hypnotic appeal to the youngsters who wanted to be “hep.” Hep became hip and that generation embraced all sorts of aberrant behavior that didn’t sit well with true Americans such as those who lived in Muskogee.

In the Fall of 1963, Capital Records, in Hollywood, handed out 3,000 layoff notices to the folks in Scranton working at the record pressing plant because record sales were in a slump. The layoffs were to take effect the day after Thanksgiving. While the nation mourned the assassination of its young President, the layoff notices were rescinded on the Monday before Thanksgiving because of a music phenomenon that was spreading like a highly contagious disease. It was called “Beatlemania.”

Rock and Roll was battling to replace the folk songs that dominated the pop music charts. Eventually, Rock got it very own separate chart and Fats Domino shared it with newer, younger musicians.

Tail fins on cars had reached their high water mark with the 1959 Cadillac. At one point the J. C. Whitney catalogue offered champagne glasses made from the distinctively shaped ’59 Caddy bullet style tail lights.

While getting America from the Marshall Program to the Bush Doctrine, patriots would come to realize that charity is permissible only if it also functions as a bribe or is part of an extortion plan.

If a person graduated from high school in 1961 and proceeded directly on to a four year college, he would graduate just in time to see President Johnson, in June of 1965, send several (was it six or eight?) Marine Divisions to Vietnam to straighten out that mess (it was well understood that they would be home in time for Christmas).

In 1961, all was well. The World’s Laziest Journalist knows of one member of the class of 1961, who joined the Navy, was assigned to a destroyer that circled the globe, came back home to Scranton and declined all additional opportunities to travel. “I’ve been around the world. I like Scranton. Why would I want to leave?”

Soldiers from Scranton, in the 28th Division’s 109th Regiment, had fought at the battle of the bulge and so America was determined to make sure that those war atrocities, such as the ones that Germany had committed during World War II, would never again be permitted in the world that was beckoning to the eager and enthusiastic members of the class of 1961.

The world in 1961 wasn’t perfect. The designers at Chevrolet were trying to develop a coupe model for the popular Corvette roadster. America didn’t need a Desoto car. TV would be better in “living color.” Pan Am, Eastern Airlines (“The wings of man”) and TWA stood ready to fly America’s youth to places where they could face the “Europe on $5 a day” challenge.

Americans didn’t have to buy a WMCA t-shirt to know that they were one of a special breed. Who didn’t want a T-shirt that proclaimed that the wearer was a “Good Guy”?

Wasn’t “The Ugly American” a Commie propaganda ruse? Didn’t the East German authorities have to build a wall to hold back their young people with curiosity about freedom?

The graduates who got married and started having kids didn’t have to worry about the draft. The guys who went on to college did. Did the lamestream media do feature stories about the last guy to be drafted? Who was it? Lord knows the lamestream sure did cover the story when Elvis got drafted and when Cascius Clay turned down his draft board’s invitation. When Elvis left the Army, there was a TV special on which Frank Sinatra welcomed Elvis back home.

There was one TV special (was it part of Ford’s 50th anniversary celebration?) that featured the best science based predictions for the future. As we recall it, that program predicted that newspapers would deliver their stories directly into homes via a machine that was a combination of calculator, telephone, TV set, and printing press.

Back in 1961 the icon of the American Dream was expressed in visual terms by a home with a white picket fence around it. That house has been seized by the foreclosure process. The lefties who are losing their homes think that Sarah Palin is dumb. How did they come to that conclusion? On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural address, said: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

The disk jockey went to the Flying Dutchman’s web site for a list of the hits from 1961. He culled out: “Big Bad John,” “Wonderland by Night,” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

We have to go put some dead flowers on a friend’s grave. Have a “The torch is passed to a new generation” type week.

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