Sunday, February 21, 2021

1955 Revisited / As COVID Spring 2021 approaches

1955 was the year we received our polio shots.

Ours wasn't a musical household.  There was no record player or musical instruments.  We didn't sing.  My father listened to baseball games on his radio.  I don't recall hearing music on the radio. We did have a television, which is where I would have heard some of these songs from 1955:

From the list of the top 30, I remember hearing these songs that year when I was 5 years old going on 6.

2 Rock Around the Clock - Bill Haley & His Comets 3 The Yellow Rose of Texas - Mitch Miller 13 Sixteen Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford 18 Mr. Sandman - The Chordettes 22 The Ballad of Davy Crockett - Fess Parker 27 The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane - The Ames Brothers


August 28, 1955: Emmett Till a 14-year-old from Chicago is brutally murdered in Mississippi for allegedly flirting with a white woman. His murderers are acquitted, and the case bring international attention to the civil rights movement after Jet magazine publishes a photo of Till’s beaten body at his open-casket funeral.

December 1, 1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Her defiant stance prompts a year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Except for on television, I had never seen anyone who wasn't the same race that I was.  I remember hearing the name "Stalin."  I had heard about Nazis and feared them.  I sat alone in our living room and watched a documentary about farm workers and felt empathy.  One day I was absorbed in playing quietly while the television was on and heard Mahalia Jackson singing in a way that moved me as I had never been moved before.  I remember being taken with a group of children to visit war veterans who were being cared for in a place called "The Fort" in our small San Joaquin Valley town in south central California.  I remember standing next to a bed of someone who appeared to me to be an old man, meaning that he was older than my father who was nearly 40 years old.  I remember feeling confused, seeing how sad and tired he looked.  I was so terrified of the wicked witch of the north, upon having seen "The Wizard of Oz" for the first time, that I ran out of the living room and hid behind a door, shaking with fear.  I had nightmares about witches and bulls who took the top of their heads off to reveal that there was nothing inside them.  There were sexual predators in our small community of families with fathers who worked for Standard Oil in various capacities.  The neighborhood kids and I all watched Mickey Mouse Club on TV and wanted to go to Disneyland.  We roamed through the neighborhood freely with no parents supervising us. We even walked outside our neighborhood once to a farm where there were horses, donkeys and turkeys.  We were told never to do that again. 

We went to "The Fort" to get our polio vaccines.


No COVID vaccine for me yet.  I keep checking the webpage for the clinic where I get my medical care.  Several of my friends have already received their vaccines through their health care providers.  We are almost to COVID Spring 2021.  

The bird song that I can hear, even with the windows closed, becomes more lively each day.  I look forward to hearing the song of a robin.


Anonymous said...

I am so moved that you wrote this and shared it with us. Quite a memory of those days in the mid 1950s. The details are so vivid and evocative. I remember getting the polio vaccine some time in the early 1960s. It was being given at the local elementary school, and it was on a sugar cube. Is that how it was given to you? It's hard to grasp how long ago all of this happened.

am said...

Robin -- My memory was, and Google confirms, that I received a polio shot rather than a sugar cube in 1955. I remember standing outside in the California sunshine in a long line with other mothers and children.

Carruthers said...

I was born in 1958, so my musical memories are from a few years later. I do remember Kennedy's funeral - a very curious event for a small child.

I remember hearing She Loves You by the Beatles and Music While you Work on the radio.

Waiting for vaccinations here. My mother has had hers.

Colette said...

Although I don't remember getting my polio shot, I do remember that one of my aunts wouldn't allow her kids to get it when my Mom marched us all down to the doctor's office for ours. Sadly, one of my aunt's children subsequently came down with polio and died within six months of the vaccine being available. My oldest sister was the same age as the cousin who died, and they were close. My aunt was never the same with us after that. She distanced herself from our family. I can only imagine the pain she felt.

Sabine said...

What a wonderful memory post.

I remember the vaccinations we got in primary school, the polio one was done with a pistol kind of gadget, I still have the scar and the dent on my upper left arm. We can identify people's age by them. I also remember getting one vaccine (tetanus?) as a plaster on my chest that had to stay on for a week. In summer with the pools open. Misery, I thought the week would never end.
During my childhood, Black men were a common sight as in my hometown, Nuremberg, a large section of the US army in Europe was stationed until the mid 1970s. We got the first McDonald restaurants in Germany thanks to that.