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CRUISIN': Remembering the 50s and 60s
In Apr. 26 issue, Russell County News
By Ron Cowell, Columnist

The past several weeks we have talked about the old cars that we restore and drive today, the Cruise Ins we attend and all the fun we have with car clubs. It got me thinking about the 50’s and 60’s when I was growing up and a lot of the memories came back to me. Here is the 50’s and 60’s as I remember them.

I grew up in the 50’s. I had a sister 5 years older than me. I remember her listening to the radio and Rock & Roll was new. I decided I wanted to be a Rock and Roll Star. I saved the money I made cutting grass and shoveling snow to buy my first guitar. A friend of mine was learning also and we used to set and play for hours. As soon as it looked like the streetlights were going to come on it was time to head for home.

Back then TV was new and only a few families had one. We used to set around the radio at night and listen to the Lone Ranger, Amos & Andy and then get really scared when Inter Sanctum would come on with that screeching door in the opening. The adults were gathered on either our front porch or at a neighbor’s talking about the days events.

If you were around back then you will remember the toys we played with.. Nope,, not computers or video games. We had cool stuff like Tinker Toys, Erector Sets, Lionel Trains, Lincoln Logs, YoYo’s,
marbles, (and as I remember I was a pretty fair marble player.) I had an ant farm, slinky, hula hoop and I never will forget my official Davey Crockett Coonskin Cap.

I would get comic books like Archie, Action Comics, Treasure Island and Western Comics. After I read them at least 10 times we would trade with my friends to get some new action to read.

I remember getting twenty five cents a week allowance, but only if I did my chores. That was a lot of money back then, That would buy some Black Jack or Beemans Gum, Candy cigarettes, Sugar Daddy and those little wax bottles that had Kool aid in them. After we drank the Kool aid, we would chew the bottle for hours like it was a piece of gum.

I remember Mom’s new ringer washing machine. Now that was a time saver for her. Our house was furnished with simple things like our chrome and vinyl dining room table, and the big over stuffed couch and chair.
I think I was about 10 years old when Dad brought home our first TV. It stood almost 4 foot tall and two foot across but the screen was only about 8 inches. It had knobs, knobs and more knobs. You had to adjust just them all just to get it to where you could see it.

Programs were only on certain hours of the day. It would come on in the morning for a few hours then go off the air. All you saw then was the Test Pattern for a while till the programs started again in the late afternoon. We only got two channels and that all depended on how you adjusted the antenna or how much foil you could wrap around the rabbit ears. We watched Spike Jones, Superman, Milton Burle and game shows like the $64,000.00 Question or beat the clock. Camron Swasey would do his Timex watch commercial with a watch strapped to an outboard motor propeller, then run it in the water. Who can forget him saying after that test, “A Timex, and it’s still ticking.”

When we were in school back then, the worst thing you could do was to get caught smoking in the restroom, flunk a test or get caught chewing gum in school. We didn’t wear jeans to school back then and shirttails had to be tucked in.

On Friday night it was off to the Football game and after the game going to the Sock Hop. We listened to Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis, Fabian, Everly Brothers, Rick Nelson and many many more. By the time we got up enough nerve to ask a girl to dance the song was over.
A lot of the guys had cars in high school.

I remember a lot of the cars of the 50’s as first cars. My first car was a 1952 Cadillac. I bought it with a buddy of mine and it cost us $12.50 each ! A total of $25.00, what a pile of junk that was, but we drove it to school everyday my senior year.

On the weekends we would pool our money to get gas to go riding around. $1.65 would get you enough gas to cruise all night. After all gas was .26 to .28 cents a gallon. On Saturday nights we would hit the Drive in movie with the trunk full of kids and see such classics as Ben Hur, The Asphalt Jungle. We can’t forget those SiFi thrillers either.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Blob, and my favorite It Came From Outer Space. Do you remember how silly everyone looked in a movie theater all wearing those silly glasses to see the movie in 3D?
Then a day I’ll never forget, February 3rd, 1959, the day the music died.

On Feb. 2nd. 1959 Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper (JP Richardson), Richie Valens and other Rock stars appeared at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake Iowa. The tour was called the Winter Dance Party. After the show these guys chartered a plane because of the cold and took off for the next show. The plane had problems and crashed and all the people on board died. It was a sad day for all, truly the day the music died.

Let’s not forget some World events and politics of the era……. In the 50’s North Korea invaded South Korea, President Truman ordered the U.S. into war. Three million soldiers and civilians were killed or wounded before it all ended in 1953.

In 1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower was voted in as President. He went on to serve two terms. John F. Kennedy was assassinated in the early 1960’s.

The USSR announced they had developed the Atomic Bomb, and the cold war enters the nuclear age. Home built bomb shelters became very popular.

Ah, those were the good old days. With all our progress, don’t you just wish, just once, you could slip back in time and enjoy that slower pace and be able to share it with the kids of today. Back to the day when you were sent to the Principals office was nothing compared to what would happen to you when you got home.

Basically we were in fear for our lives, but it wasn’t because of drive by shootings, drugs or gangs, it was because our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat to us.

Don’t it feel good, just to go back and say,, yeah, I remember that ! And,, was it really that long ago?

If your Car Club has an event or activity you would like us to tell everyone about drop me an email at You have to have the information in at least two weeks before the event. Till next time... Keep Cruisin !
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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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