Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated with the 1950’s. Maybe it was the influence of shows like “Happy Day’s” and “Laverne and Shirley”, movies such as “Grease”, or maybe it was looking at photos of my mother when she was a young girl in the late 50’s. For whatever reason, I’ve always felt a fascination with that time period. I love the music, the style of dress, the television shows and actors of that era. When I was a kid I thought it would have been the perfect time period to grow up in, I mean how could I not feel that way re-runs of “Leave it to Beaver” painting a picture of domestic bliss?
Unfortunately, we all have to grow up, and with growing up comes finding things out about the things we love that are unsettling. My mother was always very quick to tell me that the era that fascinated me was not all as rosy as what was depicted on television shows of the time. She told me stories of how frightened she was because of the Cold War, of how women were still treated as property and not individuals, raciscm was still widely accepted, and about the “witch-hunts” of McCarthyism. While it was true that you were free to take walks at night in areas that you’d never do that in now, there was an underlying current of fear that pervaded society about anything out of the “norm”. My mother’s point in telling me all this was not to make me cynical, but to make me aware that things aren’t always as they appear and to encourage me to live in the moment, not long for a past I was never part of. As I grew older I read books on the 1950’s and did research on the era, and found that indeed the 1950’s were not the “perfect” era I’d hoped it was. So once again…mother was right.
I still like aspects of the 1950’s, but I no longer wish I’d grown up in that time period. I still love the style of dress, the cars, the movies, and old TV shows such as “I Love Lucy”. However, I now see that it’s pointless to wish for another time because every era has it’s problems.
The other day I had to laugh, because I heard my daughter and her friends talking about how lucky I was to have grown up in the 80’s because everything was so “cool” back then. I did a double take when I heard that. Memories of bad hair, neon clothes, “greed is good” philosophy, and Reaganomics came flooding back, and I just shook my head and smiled. I told the girls it wasn’t all like “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club” and I told them that believe it or not, one day their children will be telling them how “cool” it was to be a teenager in 2010’s. To which, they rolled their eyes and laughed.
I guess I am officially now my mother.