Young people grow wearisome of tales of time gone by, the glorious 1950s and more permissive 1960s, their simple themes captured by the TV series Happy Days and perhaps glorified by the classic film American Graffiti.
“Pops! Pops! I know! You paid 25 cents a gallon for gas in 1956. I’m paying $3.75 for gas. I am trying to find a college funded by tuition through a government loan that will kill my paycheck for years on a salary from a job that may be non-existent. All the government safety nets you enjoy are a big fat question mark for my generation. We’re facing some real life issues here, so your 25 cent gas isn’t much consolation.”
I get it. The comparisons are fascinating but not particularly helpful. There is little relevance, even in the language. Kids today “download” everything, from music to website documents to videos to watch while standing in line to buy the latest electronic gismo. Is that progress? No doubt. It’s good stuff. Does it have its downside? Yes, the Internet is so pervasive as to be just plain frightening.
Our “downloads” in the ’50s were pretty much restricted to transporting Mom’s groceries from the neighborhood store to her kitchen counter. The bags were full of staples such as milk at 82 cents a gallon, and coffee, 37 cents of pound. The notion that in the not-so-distant future someone would walk into a corner shop to ante up $4.75 for a cup of coffee? You’ve got to be kidding!
The bygone era’s music was bland compared to today’s hot stuff whose lyrics are barely comprehensible to those of us who occasionally suffer through TV helpings of trash. Not to say youths of our day didn’t have their wild side. “Wake up Little Suzie, it’s time to go home” was quite suggestive. We all knew what was going on there. And don’t even talk about “Come along and be my Party Doll.” Downright dirty.
Mostly though, we had the likes of Annette Funicello singing “I was dreaming of a wedding, a happy teenage wedding.” Contrast that today’s Lady GaGa who sings “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgender life, I’m on the right track baby, I was born to survive.”
Here’s a real mystery. Lady Gaga seems to be rather a despicable human being, so why would the producers of American Idol, a potentially great family show, ruin it by subjecting my teen and pre-teen granddaughters to multiple Lady Gaga appearances? It is incomprehensible. There is no short supply of wholesome Carrie Underwood types.
These good old day thoughts occurred not long ago when a newspaper story said a New Mexico county may seek to license “raves.” In case you haven’t been following along as the years have gone by, the “rave” is a distant and depraved successor to the “sock hop.”
Sock hops were the epitome of youth excitement in their day. We were getting our groove on when the jukebox played “Rock Around the Clock.” We all took off our shoes. The girls wore cute Poodle Skirts with appliqués depicting musical notes, or flowers, or, of course, poodles. The coke machine provided beverages.
Raves are often held by private parties, ear-busting electronic blaring replaces the soft tones of “oh, yes, I’m The Great Pretender,” drugs replace oranges sodas, girls wear as little as possible, and those in attendance take off anything they please. License them? How about crush them?
In my head right now I am picturing Sarah, a sensational 16 year old. Her eyes are glazed with boredom. Poor kid. She is wondering when grandpa will wind down. I know, Sarah. You have heard all this before. I can’t take you back to that era of relative innocence. But, gee, sometimes I wish I could.
Ned Cantwell is a syndicated old fogie who lives in Ruidoso and welcomes response at email@example.com