Tag Archives: 1950’s

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

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Winkie Hodges – They still called him Winkie

Hi readers.  When Keith and I were kids in Portales in 1954,  a boy named Harold Hodges ran around with us a little.  For some reason we called him Winkie.  Keith and I discussed him sometime a while back and he knew Winkie a long while after I lost track.  Winkie was one of the really honest-to-goodness poor kids we knew.  Hardscrabble farm kid out in the sand hills off the Clovis highway.

I knew his dad died in the mountains deer hunting in 1955, I remembered that.  And I remembered his mom became a bootlegger to make a living in alcohol-dry Roosevelt County.

Anyway, I was remembering an incident on the school grounds involving Winkie, Keith and I getting into one hell of a lot of trouble with a teacher named Mrs. Tate.  The meanest teacher I ever had, maybe the meanest woman I ever encountered this lifetime, though she had stiff competition on both avenues.

But Winkie, Keith and I made her cry.  On the other hand, thanks to her I didn’t learn long division until a quarter-century later.  It wasn’t an even trade, but it was the best three 4th graders could do given the resources available.

Anyway, I did a websearch for Harold Hodges, then Winkie Hodges.  Just curious.  All I came up with was an obit for a name I’d encountered several years later when I lived in Borger, Texas.  Small world.  Winkie was still alive in 1998, still in Portales, and they were still calling him Winkie.

Abbie G. Friend
  BORGER – Abbie G. Friend, 85, died Monday, Nov. 2, 1998.

She married Deane Friend in 1975 at Borger. She was preceded in death
by a son.

Survivors include her husband; three sons, Wayne Vaughan of Mission,
Jack Vaughan of Pryor, Okla., and Gerald Vaughan of Long Beach,
Calif.; three brothers, Volly Hodges of Friona, Teet Hodges of
Roswell, N.M., and Winkie Hodges of Portales, N.M.; seven sisters,
Lorene Cunningham of Lubbock, Lois Hill of Odessa, Bernice Alexander
and Natoma Reigle, both of San Antonio, Geraldine Farmer of Ozark,
Ark., Maggie Rae Gibbs of Silver City, N.M., and Lena May Gibbs of
Portales, N.M.; seven grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

The family suggests memorials be to the Women’s Abuse Center.

Sooooo.  Bound to be a story worth knowing why the family wanted memorials sent to the Women’s Abuse Center, but it didn’t have anything I could discern to do with Winkie Hodges.  Just Coincideneces trekking around roping and branding everything in sight.

Anyway, Winkie’s dad died of a heart attack early in life, but I think he might still be alive.  I didn’t find an obit on him, anyway.  If I ever figure out I’ve got enough heart left to travel I think I might try to look him up or find his gravestone.

Old Jules

Speaking of KENM, 1450 on your radio dial circa 1955

This is Monet George talking to you from KENM, Portales, New Mexico.  The peanut  basin of the nation.  And we’ve got a little song here for you today.

The theme song for the station was “My Adobe Hacienda.”

Lord how I hated that song.  They played it at every opportunity.

But they also loved, “Dear Hearts and Gentle People,” which didn’t exactly describe the local population except in fantasy.

Helped them feel better about themselves than they had any business doing.

“Doing What Comes Naturally” actually fit them better and, believe it or not, they liked that one, too.

I suppose “Buttons and Bows” would have resonated with any but the most stalwart souls in Portales, New Mexico, circa 1950-60, and it sure as hell got plenty of play.

Those were the days of “Knock knock” jokes, and the favorite joke around there was, “Knockknock.”  “Who’s there?”  “Kilroy”  “Kilroy who?”  “Kill Roy Rogers!  I’m Gene Autry’s fan!”

KENM was a Gene Autry Fan.

WWII vintage folks ruled the world then.  If it hadn’t been for “Tennessee Waltz”, Bonaparte’s Retreat” and “Fraulein” I expect KENM would have had long silences trying to figure out what to play.

Old Jules

Give a Person a Fish

Hi blogsters:

I never see that phrase about fish without a flash of memory.

During the 1950s drought stock ponds were drying up all over the southwest.  There came a day a lot like this one, though it was probably warmer, when a kid named David Cagle and I were wandering around the ruins of cow country and came across a pond that was maybe five acres of surface and about three inches deep in water.  Every square foot of water had a fish flopping in it.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

A few hundred yards from the pond was an abandoned barn where we’d noticed an old galvanized washtub someone had probably used to water calves when there was still water, or feed them when there was still food.  We hoofed over to that barn and snagged the tub, waded into that fish and cow-mud calf deep throwing fish into the tub.

We glowed over that tub full of fish all the way home, him on one handle, me on the other, thinking how deeeeeelighted our folks would be with the treasure we were bringing them.

Both of us smelled a joyous combination of cow-mud and fish when we got to David’s house, went in through the kitchen door and watched his mama shriek even before she turned around and saw the fish.

“Get those fish out of this house!”

We got them out and she followed us into the yard to hose him down before she’d allow him inside.  Me, she ordered to take those fish with me and head down the road.

My own mom took a more circumspect view of things, mainly because she wasn’t home when I got there.  I cleaned myself up and filled the kitchen sink with all the fish it would hold and started killing and gutting them.  The job was far enough along to make quitting a moot point when she got home.

I gutted a lot of fish over the next couple of days, though I did move the operation out into the back yard.

My mom’s one of those kind of people who remember such things after she can’t remember her own name.  I’m not sure I’ve ever returned to her company during the past 50 years without being reminded of it.

Give a person a fish and he might not appreciate it, but he won’t starve until the fish is digested.

But give a person a fishing pole and he’ll almost surely hook an ear or nostril before it’s over.

Old Jules

Sons of the Pioneers–  Cool Clear Water

Woody Guthrie–Dust Bowl Blues
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQYKJaWuj0Y