A few bars of music, a whiff of aroma, a certain taste; all are the keys that open the time traveler's gate. I've spent the last four days or so back in 1958 thanks to Stephen King's book, 11/22/63. It's his take on the JFK assassination and it's a pretty darned good story. I'm not giving anything away if I say it involves a man in 2011 finding a way to go back and try to stop the killing, and he starts in 1958. King has the details of 1958 nailed to the wall. I know; I was 18 that year and I remember. The music we danced to and the dances we did. Some songs with risque lyrics were actually banned from the radio (so of course we ran out to buy the 45 rpm records). The cars were big, gas-guzzling monsters, usually two-tone, with bench seats and three-speed gear shift on the column. I learned to drive in my dad's Chevy. Two dollars would fill the tank. No, really! My boyfriend, soon to become the Kids' dad, bought a Plymouth Savoy that had wannabe Cadillac fins and automatic shift with buttons on the dash! Skirts were mid-calf. Pencil skirts were coming in, but some girls still clung to the multi-layers of flirty crinoline slips. Drug stores had lunch counters and cola came from taps with separate flavored syrup and soda water, mixed on the spot. We used to collect Coca-Cola bottles because of the bottling city and state stamped into the bottom. A chili size was a favorite meal. (Do restaurants even serve a chili size now?) White Shoulders perfume was my Aunt Hilda's signature scent. My mother didn't wear much perfume, but I remember the smell of her face powder and almond-scented Jergen's hand lotion.
It wasn't all moonbeams and lollipops in 1958. Racial prejudice was overt and hateful. Gloria Steinem had not yet burned her bra and women were expected to be dutifully obedient to their husbands and were certainly not equal in the workplace if they worked outside the home. Minimum wage was $1/hour; it didn't stretch any farther then than it does now.
Ah, well. It was fun to travel back in time for awhile, but that was then and this is now. Time to gear up and get down to my own brand of reality in the barn.