Looking Back! 1955

Gary: “I was 15 in High School and this is the way I remember it”…



This was probably not the best year of my life but my decisions would have an impact for a very long time.  It was the era of the Rock and Roll explosion, the Teenager, Cars and good times.

Unfortunately, I would be in a serious car mishap that would place me in the hospital for 4 months, jeopardize my life and further schooling.  I did survive, spent 4 months in hospital and another year wearing a back brace due to a broken back. Even with all this, 1955 was a great year and a great time to be a teenager. 

Some great trends and a couple of disturbing ones would start for me in 1955:

1.  I would date some of the best looking girls in school, but with the exception of one none would last more that a month.  This trend would carry on for the next 12 years; disturbing, it would encompass, one steady girl friend 57/58, and two engagements.  I think about it and I do not think it was the commitment thing, it was the challenge with me, but who really knows.

2.  I was very average looking, so how could I date the “hot” good looking girls.  Well, I could talk and I was learning to dance, and I loved it. Most of the guys did not like dancing, so I believe that was one of the greatest assets I had, definitely not my looks.

3.  I had rhythm; it came from my Dad and it would serve me well to this day.

4.  I was not a great student; too much social and not enough Academic.  That would haunt me too and force me back to night school in the 60’s.  I loved High School for the wrong reasons.

5.  My biggest regret would stay with me to this day;  when I was very young I took guitar lessons but never followed up – I did not like practicing.  I took lessons again in the 70’s, but business got in the way; too bad.  Now with Arthritis in my hands, those days are gone forever.

6.  Cars started to have two colours, or two toning;  pink and charcoal grey where THE colours.

7.  Clothes:  I had to have custom tailored pants (we called them strides or drapes) that had the cuff taken from 18″ to 14″.

8.  The word “Cool” was born; NO, it does not belong to today’s generation. It is, was, and always will be a 50’s word. 

There was even a cigarette called “Kool”  which had a menthol flavor and  Ads featured Willie the Penguin.

9.  Guy’s Haircuts:  would either be a Duck Tail, Flat Top with optional long sideburns, or just a plain Crew Cut.

Duck Tail

Looking Back
or
Willowdale, Ontario, Canada
in
The Rear-View Mirror

Some of the things I remember from 1955:

1.  The worst auto racing accident happened in France, when 84 spectators die at the Le Mans Racetrack, North of Paris.

1955 Le Mans Fire

2.  The Mickey Mouse club and Annette sky rocketed to fame;  M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E  .

Annette Funicello

3.   Eddie Fisher married Debbie Reynolds

4.   Sam Phillips sold Elvis to RCA.

November 21,1955 Elvis with RCA

5.   The Movie “Blackboard Jungle” had its debut and all the teenagers flocked to see it.  It’s haunting theme song, “Rock around the Clock” was a hit for the second year and became Number 1.

6.   In January Alan Freed held his first ever concert with all black R&B performers.  They only expected to draw a few hundred fans, but over 15,000 tickets where sold!

Alan Freed

  Rock and Roll was coming of age.

7.   Elvis, Bill Haley, Fats, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Little Richard all had a good year.  The music business changed fast.

Ernest Borgnine

Movies of 1955:

Best Picture: Marty

Best Actor:  Ernest Borgnine for Marty

Ernest Borgnine

Best Actress:  Anna Magnani for The Rose Tatoo

Ana Magnani

Best Song: Love is a many splendored Thing.

My Favourite movies:

Blackboard Jungle

Glen Ford in Blackboard Jungle

East of Eden

.
Bad Day at Black Rock 
.
.
The Bridges at Toko-Ri 
.
.

New TV shows in 1955:

The Millionaire

I’ve got a Secret

The $64,000 Dollar Question

December Bride

Sports:

Baseball:  The Brooklyn Dodgers beat the New York Yankees and win the World Series

New York

Cleveland


Football:  The Cleveland Browns beat the LA Rams 34 to 14

L.A. Rams

Hockey:  Detroit Red Wings beat the Montreal Canadiens and win the Stanley Cup

Montreal Canadiens

Rocket Richard

This was the first year I really started to get into cars and these where my favourites.

1.  1955 Chevrolet (my Dad had a 55 Chevy)

1955 Chevrolet

2.  1955 Ford Crown Victoria

1955 Ford Crown Victoria

3.  1955 Ford Thunderbird – They should have kept this design.

 

5.  1955 Plymouth

1955 Plymouth

6.  1955 Oldsmobile Super 88

1955 Oldsmobile 88

And what did we or teenagers look like in 1955:
poodle Skirt

THE MUSIC OF 1955:

The great R&B and Rock and Roll music was just starting to creep into our white, affluent society, in Toronto.  The music we wanted was difficult to find but all of the teenagers knew how to do it: get a Small AM Radio, take a wire and connect to a stove-pipe or something to act like an antenna, or in the car, find the correct area, and you could get the R&B Stations from the US. 

How to get the Good Music

My influence came from WKBW in Buffalo, New York and the man was called “The Hound”, Mr. George Lorenz. 

If we wanted to hear Rock and Roll by the originators, usually on Race records, that’s how we did it.

The Hound’s Big Heavy theme:

“The Hound’s around, rockin’ on round record from WKBW”

And it was a great year for Rock and Roll, but I cannot post all of the songs, so these where some of my favourites. 
.
1.   The Dream Weavers/It’s Almost Tomorrow
The Dream Weavers - It's Almost Tomorrow (1955)
.
2.   The Ballad of Davey Crockett/Bill Hayes
.
3.   Ain’t It A Shame/Fats Domino
.
4.   Bo Diddley/Bo Diddley
.
5.   Baby Let’s Play House/Elvis Presley (my favourite)
      Mystery Train

.

6.   The House of Blue Lights/Chuck Miller/

.
7.    Seventeen & My Boy Flat-Top/Boyd Bennett & the Rockets

.

8.   Maybelline & Thirty Days/Chuck Berry

.
9.   The Platters/Only You
.
10. The El Dorodos/At My Front Door

.

11. Sixteen Tons/Tennessee Ernie Ford

.

12. Tutti Frutti/Little Richard

.

13. Memories are made of this/Dean Martin

.

14. Hearts of Stone/ The Fontaine Sisters

.

15. Unchained Melody/ Al Hibbler

.

16. Speedo/ the Cadillacs

.
.
17. I Got A Woman / Ray Charles /
RayCharles.
.
18. All By My Self / Poor Me / I Can’t Go On / I played these records till they wore out!
Fats Domino
FatsDomino
 .
.
19. Story Untold / The Nutmegs
.
.
20. Devil or Angel / The Clovers
.
.
21. I Hear You Knockin’ / Smiley Lewis
.
.
.
I am well aware of all of the songs I did not list, but it is just not possible, I know that I have omitted some of your favourites, I did the best I could for 1955.
–o–
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