I May Die Before I Ever Grow Up
September 21, 2012
I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. Well, I “grew.” The “up” part, I’m still working on. I may have it by the time I reach my seventies. At least this is my hope. Although my headstone may have to be engraved, “I died before I grew “up.”
An umbrella of memories is covered with Elvis. Elvis songs and Elvis moves. I practiced in front of the mirror for hours. I hadn’t known that those gyrations were possible. I wondered if those moves would ever come in handy in the future. They did. Years later I gave birth to a beautiful red headed daughter. Thank you, Elvis.
Elvis moves increased my mastery of the twist. I imagined I was particularly “cool” because I could twist to the floor and back up without falling over. An ability I deemed “extra fine.” A stack of 45s probably still lie melted into one black cake in the attic. I watched Chubby Checkers twist from fat to lean in those days.
In my teens in the late, late Fifties and early Sixties, my shallowness was marked by dating only boys who drove ’57 Chevys. No other car or boy would do. This car was iconic of Who’s Who in Durant. Iconic measures were further heightened if the Chevy was some combination of black and white, rolled on wide white wall tires and had the right shiny hubcaps. The cherry on top was a red interior, upholstered seats, pleated and rolled. Durant might have had a host of other “nice boys,” but I was too shallow to notice.
I loved to dance and still do. I married a man who can dance, an art lost with most men a couple of generations later.
Mama could jitterbug. She’d turn on the phonograph player, put on one of those huge 78s and jitterbug with me. I figure I learned from the Ginger Rogers of Durant. For decades I was light and little and ’57 Chevy owners could jitterbug me in and out, over and under, and pretty well sling me all over the dance floor. I loved to jitterbug.
Then the stroll. Remember that? Look at this video. Did we ever smile? I know we never ever hit the dance floor with another girl. In those days and in that place, one did not dance until asked by a boy. Girls did not ask a boy to dance. Mores have changed. By the time I was thirty, I asked my boyfriend to marry me. He accepted. Those were the years when those Elvis moves came in really handy.
Remember twelve- cent gallon gasoline and full service gas stations, white dinner jackets and formals pinned with an orchid corsage, the bunny hop, American Bandstand, bobby socks, Blue Birds followed by Camp Fire Girls, learning to drive a stick shift, bobby pens, wearing white gloves and a hat to Sunday School, autograph books, dome rings, penny loafers, polio shots, circle pins, home permanents, pouring over the appropriate Valentine to send to each classmate, 28 AAA bras, and screened in porches with porch swings, poodle skirts and squaw skirts understuffed with can-cans, making the skirts almost parallel to the floor, and Madam Alexander dolls?
People of my generation will never forget the music: Owee Baby, Party Doll, Rockin’ Robin, Wild Thing, Peggy Sue, Proud Mary, Sea of Love, Rock Around the Clock, Shout, Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On, Chantilly Lace, Mountain of Love, The Stroll, What’d I Say, I Only Have Eyes for You, The Great Pretender, and still one of my favorites, Unchained Melody.
If you have the time, let this video take you back.