Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th of July 1956 “Elvis, Charity, Cooking Show, and Parades”

First off, let me start out by saying thank you to all of you who took the time to comment yesterday. I shall not worry, in the future, about comments. I suppose in some way I was really faced with the dilemma of “Do I post this blog for myself as much as others” and wasn’t really sure of what my answer would be. I am glad to know that there are a few of you out there enjoying my ramblings and I must say it does make it seem more exciting to know so. But, after must rumination, I do think I would have just continued on as usual, even if I had received no comments. For any of you who might feel that my blog has changed drastically from 1955, I am sorry about that. Yet, I do need to write ‘as I find’ and I think if I were in 1955 then my 1956 self would be different as well. We must evolve. I also feel that to only close my eyes to 2010 at all times would be an in-service to what I have come to really admire about the 1950’s. I think what I have learned and continue to learn about our social past IS relevant today and would serve little purpose to myself or anyone if I chose to live in a vacuum. Those in 1950’s were very forward thinking and so part of that has rubbed off on me. In some ways I almost feel more modern then before 1955, as before that I always longed for the 19th century. Now, I find myself rather modern and wanting to take all the good from the 1950s, a time I really do believe is the beginning of how we live now, and remake my own present in a better way with the advantage of my 2010 crystal ball.
So, again, thank you so kindly for all your lovely thoughts. I do appreciate it very much. And do not feel, now, that you need to comment on my account. I understand now than many just enjoy reading and have no need to say anything. I am still very innocent in the ways of blogging, though I have done it for a year and a half now. Thank you all again.
This evening, here in 1956, at the Russwood Park, Memphis Tennessee, Elvis will perform. Many of the 14,000 fans were there early in the morning, camping out to be close to the growing legend. The concept of idol and God-like star is truly born.
elvis4thjuly elvis4thjuly2Young girls weep in his presence hoping to merely touch his clothes. The shift here in 1956, I believe, is beginning for youth. Today, in many ways, music probably plays the role religion once played in the lives of those in the Middle Ages. Its chants and rhythms almost a prayer to its followers. Though many, of course, are simply drawn into this new form of music. This American music which taps the roots of it’s Afro-centric heritage and the simple tunes and verbiage of the ‘Hillbilly’ that is becoming Rockabilly. This sound, in its true form, still exists today, though not on the level it is gaining here in 1956.
An interesting story about this concert is that it was in part for the benefit of the Cynthia Milk Fund which still exists today. The story of that organization is actually rather interesting and shows the power of the press:
On a winter day in 1914 a telephone call came in to the Memphis Press. The caller was concerned about the faint wailing of a baby he heard coming from a seemingly deserted house in downtown Memphis. The city editor sent Memory McCord, one of Memphis' earliest women reporters, to investigate. When she arrived at the building, a woman, holding a tiny baby, opened the door of the one-room apartment. The mother was frightened and cold. The poorly clad baby was hungry. There was no wood for the apartment's stove and the icebox lacked food and milk.
McCord, who wrote under the byline of Cynthia Grey, wrote a touching story the next day. Soon the newspaper office was flooded with contributions and offers of housing and food for the mother and child. As a result, a fund was created to help needy infants and babies get a healthy start in life. Incorporated in 1933, the fund later became a tax-exempt organization.
I find that story both interesting in it showing the growing response the populace has to the ‘new media’ (the newspaper) in accordance to such a story. Though, quite honestly, there were many opportunities for anyone to see such poor people, it was not until it was portrayed in story form that it touched enough hearts to make a difference. It really shows the power of the story. We have, even today with our blogs, still that ancient human need to gather round the fire and listen to the storyteller. We are rapt and often touched greatly when even a reality we might know very well of is put into a context of beginning and end. Digital or handwritten scribe, or oral history, we love a good story.
I also am impressed with the woman reporter in 1914, we were not always in the kitchen tied to children until the 1960’s saved us, as some people will have us believe. It is a nice story, though, isn’t it?
4thjulyhopkintoniowa This darling little girl, Elizabeth, in Hopkinton Iowa today in 56. How sweet is she. I adore the children’s clothing of today and can imagine the fun for the little girls to wear the petticoats and longer skirts. At my current age here in 1956 I would most likely have had a childhood outfit much like these children in the 20’s celebrating the 4th of July.1920'schildren Whenever I put myself into the historical perspective of what my 1950’s self would have known as a child, it is always humbling to think what I have even here in 1956. Washing machine, Dishwasher, Good sized freezer, air conditioning, a really good vacuum. But, much as today, some of the innocence may be gone with the ease. If I had a child, I might wonder at it wanting to stare at a flickering screen watching cowboy films when there are perfectly good frogs to catch outside or cans to kick. Funny, really.
Today I am off to my own hometown to watch our little parade and later the band and a funny little boat contest on the old mill pond. This image of a 1956 4th of July parade would probably have some tears made in the audience.56julyparade These veterans reenacting that famous image, it was still so close to home. I am sure there were many wives who held their hubby’s a little closer while remembering the fear of their absence and the uncertainties of the future. It is images like this that always spurs me on to over analyze where we have come since the war. There is a part of me that feels we owe that generation the right to be ‘awake’ to what is happening in our new America and to make better choices to make sure our country can become what those young men fought for. I will not rant today, but it burns me to think of American flags bought at big box stores manufactured in communist china. There is something almost face slapping about it. But, I will not spoil our Holiday, but do remember those brave men that fought and died so that we might have the opportunity to live as we do. We DO owe our past an allegiance and a certain amount of responsibility. Enough said…
Here is a Parade from Today in California.
Well, I will close with a 4th of July 1956 airing of the show “Television Kitchen” with Florence Hanford. The show was aired live at 2:30 PM Wednesdays on Channel 3 in Philadelphia, WPTZ-TV, which was the only airwave available in Philadelphia at that time, and later on Channel 6. It was sponsored by the Philadelphia Electric Company and was one of the earliest televised cooking shows, closely following that of James Beard. I do have to disagree with the electric cooking, but she is sponsored by the Electric company. And a fun side note, I love the way she says “Marsh-mallers”. Enjoy and have a Great 4th of July (for the American followers of course)
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