From the Last Road Rebel: The Fifties and Sixties

The ’50s and ’60s; why does everyone remember them so fondly? Simpler times? Uncle Ike? The big war was over? We had won? America was the undisputed leader of the world? The world wanted our cars and trucks and food? The ascent of the middle class?

All of it! But all that was only going to last for maybe twenty years. OPEC, German cars, Japanese quality, Vietnam, and more changed it all. Not to mention the British Invasion …

But, it was a glorious time while it lasted. Our Dad’s jobs, good wages and benefits made most of us safe and secure. The Hit Parade and Sing Along with Mitch had us all sitting in our living rooms, singing along with Mom and Dad to The Wayward Wind, Rawhide, How Much is That Doggie in the Window, Moon Light in Vermont, Sixteen Tons and more. Why couldn’t it go on forever?Old Gilberg Family007

Nothing lasts forever. Least of all the music. Music is nothing if not a force that has to re-invent itself yearly, or monthly—-or daily.

Rock and Roll changed everything. Dorothy Collins, Snooky Lanson and Gilele MacKenzie just couldn’t do The Shirelles, Brenda Lee, Laverne Baker, Elvis, Buddy, Little Richard and the rest of our new stars. It was our music. Perry Como in a Cardigan, Patti Page in chiffon, Frank, dressed immaculately in suit and hat didn’t take us where we wanted to go. Heartbreak Hotel, Blue Suede Shoes, Long Tall Sally, Maybe Baby, Rock Around the Clock? Forget it, it wasn’t their music. We were going our own way!

It’s been great, Mom and Dad, but—-I gotta get outta this place …

Sure it was great. But the ’50s weren’t yet ours. It was still our parents’. In the early years it was all carried over from their ’40s: music, movie stars, political figures, etc. But in the later years of the ’50s, it was beginning to become ours. James Dean and Marlon Brando gave us movies very different from those of Bogie, Jimmy Stewart, and the Duke. Our hero’s were anti-heros, counter culture, and above all—-young, like we were. And then there was Rock and Roll …

I don’t remember the ’50s because of the carried over social world of the late ’40s. I remember them because they began to become mine and my friends’ world. It was the change that I remember and love. But I don’t ever intend to disparage the world my parents and their generation carried over into the early ’50; they were a heroic, unselfish, and family loving generation. Some people remember the ’50s more for those reasons. To a certain extent, I do too, but that wasn’t my world. I had to make my world on my own. After all, the ’60s and ’70s were barreling down on us. People get ready …

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From The Last Road Rebel

   Hello to all interested readers;

In my first blog I’d like to explain why I wrote The Last Road Rebel.

First, because for some reason that I’ve never been able to fully understand, I’ve never forgotten those years of growing up in a small Ohio farm town in the ’50s and ’60s. Even though the place was, by most standards, unexceptional in those days, I can’t shake it. I don’t try. And furthermore, why even try?Robert-Gilberg

But, don’t accuse me of living in the past. I don’t. I live in the here and now; maybe even a little in the future—-after finding out that the future comes at you faster than you realize it’s coming. It took me a while to understand that.

There are people who won’t let themselves look into the past because they believe it’s a slippery slope that leads to trying to live there. But I see no reason to be afraid of dragging out those old memories now and then, dust them off a little, and cherish the times and people.

To put it in today-speak; it’s all good. Sort of. Of course nothing can be all good, but thankfully the good times are what I remember most. There were some bad times, even some horribly very sad times. But 50 years have a way of helping one get over those, probably because we are all, at heart, hopeful and optimistic creatures. We can always find something new to look forward to, or do, or plan to do, or hope to do someday. Now, or tomorrow, or soon, or eventually—-anything that leads to a better place.

I had to find that better place. It’s always better to do that sooner than later; for me it was probably a diving catch.

That’s the story of The Last Road Rebel. A kid who didn’t really pay attention to the concept of planning for a life after they give you a diploma and send you out into the world. Good luck, class of ’58! Good luck, kid!

Good luck indeed! I needed it. I needed more than luck, but luck played a big role in my case. I had the good luck to have a difficult time finding a job—-any job—-then I had the good luck to get a really bad job, and then I had the luck of a totally different kind in meeting a girl who made me want to do much better than depending on luck for a life-plan.

What a concept; putting yourself in a position to control your life! Why hadn’t someone explained it to me in those terms somewhere along the way in the previous twelve years? But “they” weren’t to blame; I was. And I knew it even though I was trying to deny it. Of course they tried to explain it, I just didn’t want to think about it. I was into the here and now, before I should have been living only in the here and now. There is a time to put that aside and plan and act for the future; that time is before the future is already hitting you right between the eyes.

So, remembering how I learned that lesson the hard way is the first reason for writing this book.

The second reason was remembering the changing social norms of the times: Rock and Roll happened when I was a teenager, Hot Rods and a new era of automobile racing happened in my teens and early twenties, Bob Dylan and The Beatles happened in my early twenties. Civil rights, sexual freedoms and feminism ignited firestorms all around the country. And the technological whirlwinds of computers and microelectronics was waiting for me as I graduated from college.

Enough said?