Monday, September 29, 2014

The Fifties and the '50s

This is not a '50s basement. This is a diner or luncheonette like the real one I used to walk to before the new owner wrecked it. (But the 45s on the wall? I get it but, then, "What the hell are you doing?") People 50-60 years ago didn't have this in their houses.

Mostly, this is (at the Columbus, NJ Antiques Mall). At least if you had all new in a postwar house (much of my furniture is from the '40s; the past has a past, as lots of people didn't throw away good things just to redecorate). Or rather, this is your den; the basement's for storage and/or a workshop (and shelter from tornadoes*). Space age. Danish modern. (At one point my dad had a factory that made this.) Add a brass starburst wall clock, the Zenith, the hi-fi, and a Don Draper bar, and we're good to go.

The Fifties were part of the '50s; the fake Fifties were Sha Na Na, a bunch of Columbia students making fun of Italian-American resistance to the Sixties (where the concept for the Fonz came from), and American Graffiti, boomers becoming interestingly nostalgic (beware of lefty nostalgia) for right before when they sort of took over, when the grownups were still in charge: "Where were you in '62?" Actually, the boomers didn't cause the Sixties; they were just kids buying records. Their parents did with their crush on "Progress!" Thought of that driving home last night listening to King Arthur's doo-wop show on WVLT. Somebody has arranged and recorded a doo-wop cover of "Imagine." Great music, so it works across genres. Evil message. Like Pat Buchanan, who came of age then, I love the old America but I give the real reactionaries credit: the rot was there, so you got Vatican II and people falling for the Beatles, for example.

*We didn't have a good warning system until a killer Midwest storm in '65; then somebody came up with the idea of using the air-raid sirens to warn you, for example.


  1. Well, you know I disagree re Vatican II, but I do agree re mid-century kitsch vs. the real thing. That photo at the top reminds me of a restaurant we went to several times, many years ago, in the Catskills: Aunt Tillie's. Early '60s retro decor, complete with the vinyl booth seating. Kind of cute but not real. (This was in the early '80s, BTW.) Don't know whether the restaurant's still around; haven't been back to the Catskills in ages.

    1. Don't get me wrong; I love the 1960-looking restaurant photo, even if it's a re-creation. (Good condition is better than beat-up to the point of being unusable.) It's just that it's not somebody's home from then. Regular readers know I'm not about kitsch. I'm wearing my conservatism, but most of the time in real life not preaching it. I guess my "formula" is one-third modern necessities (such as the machine I'm typing on now), a third real things from the period, often in use as they were then (such as the hat), and a third cute/fun stuff (diecast cars, for example). A lot of pop culture goes right past me; I don't consciously follow it anymore. Never been to the Catskills.


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