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Lost in the ‘50s again (05/29/2005)
By Janet Lewis Burns

There pervades a comfortable aura through the mind-clutter of youthful memories. In poignant dreams our subconscious fast-forwards bits and pieces of how it played out. No need to plug anything in or to adjust the volume!

A bare light bulb's pull string dangles from a discolored wallpaper ceiling, midway between four walls gaudy with large white flowers and lime green leaves fanning from a dull gray backdrop.

Atop a small dresser, with its disfiguring mirror, the props of young girls dreaming of womanhood seem apparent. A paisley print, silk scarf drapes over a brocade padded, cherry wood chair along with a pair of seamed nylons.

Reflected in the looking glass, blue bottles of Evening In Paris perfume and a yellow, jewel-bedecked atomizer of Avon Topaz cologne. Christmas colored bath beads shine from a glass decanter. There sits a round, pink box topped with a fluffy powder puff, probably the source of the fine dust clouding a messy surface.

A dresser scarf with an embroidered flower border is pushed askew, beneath strewn pop-beads, bobby pins, and a plastic headband. Hung over a nearly empty earring tree is a heart locket with an azure stone and a mustard seed necklace.

Twin beds, rumpled from hurried departures, are adorned with matching pastel-striped bedding and pink chenille bedspreads. A corkboard beams with shiny posters of the dashing, wholesome, and coquettish -

Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Frankie Avalon, Dion, Elvis-Elvis-Elvis, Sandra Dee, Debbie Reynolds, Lassie, Annette with Mickey Mouse ears, and scads of keen teenyboppers of the day.

Movie magazines and Archie and Veronica comic books, helter-skelter on a night stand, nearly bury a guy's class ring wound with white tape. On the surface, a round stain whets a hankering for a sweating bottle of Pepsi or cream soda. The ballerina pirouetting on a milk-glass music box, which plays ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow," is frozen in place.

A pink GE radio, tuned to WDGY, echoes the rock ‘n roll vibrations of American Bandstand and nighttime's lively "Wolfman Jack." A small lamp with its frilly shade, its clear plastic covering in place, sits next to a thick, classic poetry volume, where a prom program, inscribed, "An Evening in Paris," marks a favorite Robert Browning.

An ire to young girls on cleaning day, varnished, ornate wood mop boards, floors, and doors emit the scent of Fuller Brush furniture polish. Just inside a closet door, saddle shoes and a pair of white bucks sit on a throw rug of braided carpet rags.

The bulky, red, letter jacket on the doorknob poses a stark contrast to circle skirts, soft sweaters with their collar pompoms, flowered dresses, stiff crinoline petticoats, and ivy league shirts.

Dawn's ruckus of birds in the pine grove stirs with a rising sun. An alarm buzzes from another place and time. I bolt upright from a deep sleep and stumble to the dresser to silence it. The immediacy of another workday brings me back to earth in 2005. It was beguiling to drift back to yesteryear, even though the images I had just left had already become muted by wakefulness.

I had visited the 1950s for crying out loud! No more pajama parties, hickeys (oops!), May baskets, dress gloves for church, Dad's white monster Edsel, watching the submarine races down by the lake, spin the bottle, "Hound Dog," or Dagwood sandwiches (my dad's infamous concoction).

It's not the accumulation of remembrances that clouds my sixty-year-old mind, but the overload of today...a weary, anxious rebellion against declining age, with its confusion and forgetfulness.

But then, there are the perks...of memory makin' to build more dreams on, and the wisdom to savor each new day and make every moment count. Happy Trails! 


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