Hugh’s News & Views (The 1950s)

THE 1950s

No decade saw greater changes in my life than the 1950s. When the decade started I was a seventh grader in Junior High School in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. When the decade ended I was a few months into my second full-time ministry with a congregation of the Lord’s people! As the old saying goes, a lot of water went over the dam during those ten years.

When the decade began Harry Truman was president of the United States. When it ended Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. Truman and Ike were our only presidents from the time I was seven years old until I was twenty-three years old! The Korean War occurred in the early years of the decade of the 50s, and Elvis burst on the scene in the middle of the decade. Elvis’ stage gyrations were thought to be sexually suggestive, but compared to what showed up in the 60s and later, Elvis was tame! Plus, Elvis could sing, while many of those who followed only knew how to scream and holler! Pat Boone, then a member of the church of Christ, also came on the scene in the 1950sa clean-cut crooner with a milky smooth voice.

In 1953 my parents made a significant move from DeFuniak Springs, Florida to Florence, Alabama so my sister, brother, and I could attend Mars Hill Bible School, a K-12 Christian school. At Mars Hill I studied under highly committed Christian teachers and was part of a close-knit student body. Friends were made that last until today. Later, at Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson, Tennessee, I had the same kind of experience: outstanding, dedicated teachers and wonderful fellow students, many of whom remain steadfast friends until today.

During the 1950s I continued my first part-time after school job (a paper route I got in the summer of ’49), became a teenager, began to make my first boyish efforts at preaching, worked two months as a counselor (summer of ’54) at a Christian youth camp in New Jersey, made my first trip to New York City, saw my first major league baseball games, graduated from high school, graduated from Freed-Hardeman College (then a two-year college, with a third-year program for Bible majors), met the girl of my dreams at Freed-Hardeman, married her, became a father, began my full-time work as a minister, and by the end of the decade had conducted almost a dozen gospel meetings. I continued my education on a limited basis at the University of Louisville (and later at the University of Tennessee and Austin Peay State University.)

Merle Haggard [1937-2016], one of my contemporaries and one of my all-time favorite country singers (he sang true country!), poignantly captured the 50s with this song which he released in 2008.

“The Way It Was In ’51”

Sixty-Six was still a narrow two-lane highway
Harry Truman was the man who ran the show
The bad Korean war was just beginning
And I was just three years too young to go

Country music hadn’t gone to New York City yet
And a service man was proud of what he’d done
And Hank and Lefty crowded every jukebox
That’s the way it was in ’51

There’s so much about the good old days I’d love to tell
And there’s folks around I know, still remember well
Slow dancin’ close together when a ballad played
‘Cause a thing called ‘Rock and Roll’ was yet to come
It was a big year for a drive-in rest’rant Carhop
That’s the way it was in ’51

There’s so much about the good old days I’d love to tell
And there’s folks around I know, still remember well
Slow dancin’ close together when a ballad played
‘Cause a thing called ‘Rock and Roll’ was yet to come
A big year for a drive-in rest’rant Carhop
That’s the way it was in ’51

Hank and Lefty crowded every jukebox
Oh Lord – that’s the way it was in ’51

Ah, yes, the 50s! What wonderful years! But time and tide wait for no man and we move on. “But the word of the Lord abides forever” (I Peter 1:25a).

Hugh Fulford
September 6, 2016

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