Category Archives: 1950’s

Resolving resolved issues

The thing about your life flashing before your eyes is the real deal, except it doesn’t flash and it doesn’t wait until the last minute so’s to have to rush around and maybe forget something.  But if you get into your 70s and have any memory left, I can promise you you’ll find yourself re-living all the tiny events of your life you thought nothing about at the time.   Then, a few nights or months or maybe years later, doing it again, and remembering you’ve done it, remembered it before this time.

For instance, I was thinking the other night about an incident on the playground when I was in the fourth grade in grammar school.   It was an incident I’ve written about here involving a kid named Winkie Hodges, and another named Keith Kelt.  [They still call him Winkie – posted July 29, 2014]

But this time I was remembering it all in a different context.   I was thinking about several of us who were around at that time, but who lived to a ripe old age.   One died a few months ago – Eddie Hiner – and I was thinking about how surprised we would have been back then if someone had told us, “Hey kid…..let me flash your life before your eyes [the way it gets flashed backward nowadays but faster] and give you a look at what you think as an old man was valuable about your life.   What was worth doing.   What was worth remembering.

I don’t think it would have changed much about our lives, but we’d probably have shuddered some and figured it was a nightmare.    Everything I thought I wanted out of life back then, everything I thought made life worth living, got replaced and eroded so many times I should have realized a lot sooner how little difference any of it actually made.

The area between this old 1890s house I live in and the next one over is all grass.   We’ve been told they’re going to let us put in a ‘community garden’.   Got my fingers itching to dig them around in some cow manure and soil.    Went out and bought a Roma and a Big Boy each tomatoes to put in the solarium porch… [one’s going to blossom tonight or tomorrow – but stumbling blocks keep showing up for starting to dig that community garden].

But my point is, breaking up a little dirt, putting some seeds down, it’s probably as important ans anything I’ve ever done this lifetime, and that’s just fine.   In fact, I’d count it as important as anything anyone I knew this lifetime ever did, too [at least anything they did that I knew about].

So I’m wondering how everything came to be so complicated back then.   How Winkie, and Eddie Hiner, and Keith, and all those other kids ever came to believe there was something we could do that didn’t involve turning over some dirt, squeezing in some cow manure, and putting some seeds in the ground, that was going to produce something of lasting value.

In those days it was a given that old people were where you’d find wisdom.  By hindsight I tend to think wisdom escaped them, too.

The old men in that photo at the top of this post were out there at that time, doing what they’re doing in the photo.    I’m thinking they probably knew that thing about putting seeds in the ground and cowshit..

But they weren’t telling.

Old Jules

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Seven decade tug-of-war between organized religion and the 1st Amendment

Nobody paid a lot of attention to issues of the ‘Separation of Church and State’ between Reynolds v. the United States in 1789 [upholding federal bigamy laws], and Everson v. The Board of Education, 1947 ruling it was okay for Catholic parents to be reimbursed for sending their kids to Catholic schools on buses, same as for public school kids using buses.

Those of us who attended public schools prior to Engels v. Vitale in 1962 managed to survive prayers coming over the intercom each morning without any permanent damage and the only eyebrows raised were in response to boredom.   In one school I attended, popular kids were selected each day to give the prayers and they seemed to compete with one another to add dramatic emphasis, but generally I’d count it all harmless.

Around that time Madalyn Murray O’Hair entered the picture and atheists became militant and vocal.   Maybe it was something in the water.    The Murray v. Curlett Supreme Court decision in 1963 ending religious study in public schools became a harbinger for a long series of religion versus state legal battles.

Maybe it was the times…. the fact is, a person declaring himself to be an atheist prior to the 1960s would have been asking for all manner of difficulties.   My granddad got a visit from the FBI out on his hardscrabble farm around 1953, because one of his neighbors reported he was an ‘atheistic Communist’.   In those times that was serious invective indeed.

But though I’ve spent almost all my adult life not subscribing to any organized religion, which in some circles damns me as an atheist, I’ve often thought the church/state religious battles that emerged to the US Supreme Court were mostly petty embarrassments.     If those were the worst infringements accusers could come up with insofar as the separation of church and state, it would have been better left alone than hold them up as evidence atheists were a lot of nit-picking whiners about nothing.

But that’s roughly what we’re left with.    Lawsuits filed, court time wasted about nativity scenes on courthouse lawns and plaques containing the Ten Commandments.

Ironically, now we see the Christian fundamentalists trying to establish a foothold as a state religion to protect the US from Islamics and scary Sharia Law.    While splinter groups of Mormons drift back into polygamy and assortments of Asian religious establishments creep into suburbia.

Keeping in mind that no legal battle arrives at the door of SCOTUS until it’s been through lower courts and appeal courts.    So the list below really doesn’t convey just how much legal time and money has found its way into the pockets of lawyers as a consequence of the determination of people who don’t want religion anywhere in their lives, and those who want their own religion to be implied as valid by display at public expense:

U.S. Supreme Court Decisions
(arranged by date)

Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879)

Court finds that the federal antibigamy statute does not violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion.

Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)

Court finds that a New Jersey law which included students of Catholic schools in reimbursements to parents who sent their children to school on buses operated by the public transportation system does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

McCollum v. Board of Education Dist. 71, 333 U.S. 203 (1948)

Court finds religious instruction in public schools a violation of the establishment clause and therefore unconstitutional.

Burstyn v. Wilson, 72 S. Ct. 777 (1952)

Government may not censor a motion picture because it is offensive to religious beliefs.

Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961)

Court holds that the state of Maryland cannot require applicants for public office to swear that they believed in the existence of God. The court unanimously rules that a religious test violates the Establishment Clause.

Engel v. Vitale, 82 S. Ct. 1261 (1962)

Any kind of prayer, composed by public school districts, even nondenominational prayer, is unconstitutional government sponsorship of religion.

Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)

Court finds Bible reading over school intercom unconstitutional and Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203 (1963) – Court finds forcing a child to participate in Bible reading and prayer unconstitutional.

Epperson v. Arkansas, 89 S. Ct. 266 (1968)

State statue banning teaching of evolution is unconstitutional. A state cannot alter any element in a course of study in order to promote a religious point of view. A state’s attempt to hide behind a nonreligious motivation will not be given credence unless that state can show a secular reason as the foundation for its actions.

Lemon v. Kurtzman, 91 S. Ct. 2105 (1971)

Established the three part test for determining if an action of government violates First Amendment’s separation of church and state:
1) the government action must have a secular purpose;
2) its primary purpose must not be to inhibit or to advance religion;
3) there must be no excessive entanglement between government and religion.

Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980)

Court finds posting of the Ten Commandments in schools unconstitutional.

Wallace v. Jaffree, 105 S. Ct. 2479 (1985)

State’s moment of silence at public school statute is unconstitutional where legislative record reveals that motivation for statute was the encouragement of prayer. Court majority silent on whether “pure” moment of silence scheme, with no bias in favor of prayer or any other mental process, would be constitutional.

Edwards v. Aquillard, 107 S. Ct. 2573 (1987)

Unconstitutional for state to require teaching of “creation science” in all instances in which evolution is taught. Statute had a clear religious motivation.

Allegheny County v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989)

Court finds that a nativity scene displayed inside a government building violates the Establishment Clause.

Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649 (1992)

Unconstitutional for a school district to provide any clergy to perform nondenominational prayer at elementary or secondary school graduation. It involves government sponsorship of worship. Court majority was particularly concerned about psychological coercion to which children, as opposed to adults, would be subjected, by having prayers that may violate their beliefs recited at their graduation ceremonies.

Church of Lukumi Babalu Ave., Inc. v. Hialeah, 113 S. Ct. 2217 (1993)

City’s ban on killing animals for religious sacrifices, while allowing sport killing and hunting, was unconstitutional discrimination against the Santeria religion.

https://infidels.org/library/modern/church-state/decisions.html

If you believe this isn’t over yet, you are probably correct.   Because even though religious affiliation in the US is evidently dropping somewhat rapidly, the strength of the fundamentalist right, the Latter Day Saints, the Jews, and the Islamics is gaining, rather than losing momentum.

There’s cause to suspect we’ll see at least another half century before any of the parties involved are powerless.    It’s a crapshoot who will be the last man standing.

Old Jules

The presidents and their ladies

There’s been a temptation on the part of the opposition for the last couple of decades to make as much hay as possible when it’s discovered the US president has a mistress, or had one.  This hasn’t always been so.   Presidents of the past venerated by those finger-pointers and accusers have frequently had their affairs during a time when such matters were left for gossip columnists and rumor mongers.

Lucy Page Mercer Rutherfurd was one of two women believed to have been FDR’s mistresses. Lucy has the distinction, though, of being the only certainty. Eleanor found her letters to FDR. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Mercer_Rutherfurd

Then there was Ike.   Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during the invasion, and Republican president after Truman.

All those years Ike was in office I never knew anyone to criticize him about that particular issue.    If they hated him at all [and the rabid right wingers certainly did] they didn’t bring his private sex life into the conversation.

Then of course there was LBJ and his shenanigans too numerous to bother mentioning except one.

As far as I know Ford, Carter, Reagan and both Bush presidencies were either adultery-free, or discrete enough to keep it out of the public eye.    As was Obama.  Goes to prove some presidents have the good sense to either keep their peckers zipped up safely inside their pants, or go the extra mile to keep it out of the headlines.

And there’s no point even discussing Bill Clinton….. that one’s the record Trump is trying to beat with Stormy Daniels.

Maybe it’s time, really time for a woman president so we can put all this sexual scandal to rest.

Old Jules

Who gets to go to heaven? The Christian Dilemma.

sundaybest

Growing up in a small southwestern town with a church on every corner circa 1950s leaves a lot of room for religious confusion. We had our First Baptists, our Calvary Baptists a block away,our Church of Christ, our Church of God, our Seventh Day Adventists, our Methodists, our Presbyterians, and our Mexican Church….Catholics. I’m reasonably sure there were others scattered around that I don’t remember.

I do recall something of a family crisis when my oldest sister went with a friend to a ‘holy roller’ church. Traumatized the hell out of her, and she got baptized all in one fell swoop. I’ve often thought that might have been a piece of what led her to being the goody-two-shoes tattletale teachers pet holier-than-thou hypocrite she was all the remainder of her life I knew her.

But I’ve digressed.

My mother and step-dad were married in 1948 in the Church of Christ. So as a pre-schooler I went to Vacation Bible School there. Then, for reasons I never knew, we changed to the Calvary Baptist Church a while. Then the First Baptist Church. I never felt comfortable in either of those Baptist churches. They’d pass around grape juice and crackers that made my mouth water, but I never got any. I wasn’t baptized.

Then there came a day when I was in the fourth grade when my parents decided they wanted to change again and become Presbyterians. There came a knock on the door and Brother Doyle, preacher for the Baptists asked if he could come in.

“No I don’t want to sit.” The veins were bulging out of his scarlet face. “What’s this about you leaving the church?”

My mom explained quietly, and Brother Doyle began to shout and pace around the living room. Eventually my mom asked him to leave, but he just got louder, waving his arms around. “I WON’T SEE you there! You and your family will burn in HELL!”

I was unsettled watching all this, but my mom got angry and demanded he leave. “I won’t be seeing you there!” He kept shouting.

So my mom picked up the phone and dialed my step-dad at work. Explained it all while Brother Doyle kept stomping around, pointing at me, waving is arms around, veins bulging out all over his face.

Until Charlie, my step-dad arrived and told him to get the hell out.

Presbyterians seemed fairly low-key by comparison. No fire in their bellies. When they baptized people they just sprinkled a little water on their heads quietly. But of course, deep down, I knew those Presbyterians weren’t ever getting into heaven with that sort of wimpy foolishness going on.

So you can see, I had a lot of exposure to religion in my life. But I never got Baptized, and eventually I came to know I was sure as hell not a Christian.

I’d rather spend eternity in hell than in heaven with Brother Doyle and his ilk.

But of course, I don’t happen to believe in hell. Though I count myself a spiritual and to the extent I’m able, a righteous man.

Maybe I’ll write some more about this sometime.

Old Jules

Making America Great Again – Circa 2050

duck and cover

I’ve wondered at times what it was about the 1950s and 1960s that allowed those two decades to dominate the nostalgia market during almost all the late 20th Century. In a lot of ways it just doesn’t make sense.

Sure, we had a better music, rhythm and blues, wailing ballads of quality country ad western, and all that new frontier of rock and roll at its birth. Songs we knew well enough to sing along, or alone as we rode down those roads before super-highways on used tires.

Old cars with personality, greasy hair, dandruff, acne and bad teeth. Parents and grandparents who went through the Great Depression and worked hard to assure we wouldn’t experience those kinds of difficult times.

Mostly at the time it was in the world around us and I don’t recall being all that happy about all the other crap that came with it. Constant brink of war sf a sort that it’s better not to remember. Knowing when you turned 18 you’d have the draft hanging over your head. And a lot of bullying everywhere you turned.

If you worked doing farm work the farmers and ranchers who hired you felt a moral obligation to shout and verbally abuse the workers anytime they got within earshot. Construction jobs? You’ve never seen bullying and abuse that could compete with a construction foreman. It was there on the school playgrounds, on the streets, anywhere people happened to be.

And mostly nobody much said a word. It just went with being alive.

Our little farm was just across the railroad tracks on the ‘Mexican’ side of town. When I was in the first and second grade I walked home from school the same way several ‘Mexican’ kids walked. I was smaller than them, anglo, and outnumbered. They started just by yelling insults, but gradually it worked up they’d chase me with sticks or throwing rocks at me.

There came a day I was running home just in front of them, arrived with my mother on the front porch. They gathered on the dirt road in front of the house, still shouting and throwing rocks.

“Get out of here you little Mescin bastards!” She ran down off the porch waving the broom. “I’ll twist your heads off and shove them up your butts!” She never got close to catching them, but they were off.

Then she came back where I was waiting on the porch and smacked me upside the head with the broom so hard it broke the handle. Grabbed me by the collar and proceeded to beat my backside with the handle fragment. “If I ever see you running away from a fight again you’d better not set foot in this house!”

When my step-dad got home she told him, and it was off to the back porch with his belt. But at least he followed that up a bit later by teaching me to fight.

I don’t know what these kids today are going to have to feel nostalgia about. Maybe some of them will have similar memories or they’ll just remember all the computer games and hum rap music to themselves and smile.

But you can almost bet when they reach 50 or so they’ll be rallying around the flag and trying to elect candidates who promise to make America great again. The way it is today.

Old Jules

Higamus Hogamus

There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since Dorothy Parker wrote that poem. And there’s been a lot even since I posted it on this blog the first time. But that just goes to prove Parker captured a universal truth. And was never recognized, acknowledged or acclaimed. Never canonized as a saint of the literati.

So Far From Heaven

All this feral swine talk reminded me of one of the most succinct, philosophical, psychological, sociological, sexy and romantic poems I’ve ever read.  Dorothy Parker authored it sometime back in the ’50s, I think:

Hogamus higamus men are polygamous.
Higamus hogamus, women monogamous.

Inspiring, thought-provoking and titillating.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Old Jules

 

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The love affair with automobiles

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Experts agree that almost everyone born in the US between 1950 and 1960 was conceived in the back seat of a Ford, General Motors, or Chrysler automobile.  The overwhelming majority of the comparative few exceptions were mainly Studebakers because of the convenience of the suicide-style back doors opening forward to allow more horizontal legroom.   The highest percentages go to the 1949 Ford Club Coupe, the 1954 Chevrolet Sedan, and the 1956 Ford Crown Victoria.

But I’ve digressed.  My point is, almost nobody was conceived in a pickup or passenger car with a floor shift or bucket seats.  And nobody, not one pregnancy resulted from sexual congress in a hotrod.  Which is the reason parents allowed youngsters of the day to build and drive them.  A young man with a hotrod had little time or need to devote himself to the pursuit of female company.

Naturally the music industry approved this means of birth control and tried to the best of its ability to stimulate interest in and sing the virtues of coffins on wheels, speed, running from the law and other non-sexual avenues of endeavor for young men.

Red Foley’s, ‘Hotrod Race‘ was the first of these:

After a tasteful passage of time this was answered by Charlie Ryan’s, ‘Hotrod Lincoln‘, claiming to be the person driving the Model A who passed Foley and the car he’d been racing against in ‘Hotrod Race’.

George Hamilton IV, in “If You Don’t Know” attempted to combine an interest in girls and hot cars by driving a ’54 souped up Ford Deluxe with high compression heads and overdrive, which succeeded for speed but had mixed results with females.

The Beach Boys were a bit late off the starting line with “Little Deuce Coupe” in 1964 because the sexual revolution had come along allowing babies to be conceived elsewhere than the back seats of automobiles.  However, I mention it here to demonstrate the lingering nature of fads, once begun.  Long after hotrods were no longer needed to protect the virtue of young men in the US, the sound of a burned out muffler still caused a faster heartbeat.

Robert Mitchum followed the formula in Ballad of Thunder Road, combining fast cars and running from the cops with filling up the spare space in the automobile with mountain whiskey instead of females.  The song led to many a high-speed chase around the cities of America providing thrills to both police, and teenagers.  And frequently ambulance and hearse drivers.

When the Nash Rambler hit the market nobody mistook it for a cool aphrodisiac setting for launching future generations.  The car was considered ugly, though it appealed so a certain type.  But since it wasn’t for the one thing, it must be for the other.  At least in the minds of the music industry:

Although I doubt many children begin their long journey toward birth in modern automobiles now, there are a lot of similarities to the hotrod part of the 1950s love affair.  People love being seen in Hum Vees and dooley trucks.  Everyone wants a SUV.  And a person still sees the occasional racy sports car.

Mostly today the guys don’t roll up their pants cuffs, though, and some do find themselves attracted to women.

Old Jules