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In 1959, the Kingston Trio came out with an album called “Live at the Hungry I”. The Folk Singing Trio played in San Francisco to packed rooms. Their first hit came in 1958 when the pseudo cowboy song: Hang Down Your Head – “Tom Dooley” became a break-a-way hit. The Kingston Trio Album “Live at the Hungry I” was a classic and worth getting, if you don’t have it. One quote worth noting: “We just played in Southern California which is certainly a regional cultural center – and we were lucky enough to run into him while we were down there!”
As you might recall 1959 was the end of the Eisenhower years and Richard Nixon and John Fitzgerald Kennedy were running for the office of President of the United States. Hugh Hefner had launched Playboy Magazine with cartoonists and poets such as Shel Silverstein while women were entering the workplace in greater numbers: with two incomes becoming required to meet the needs of the White Picket Fence Class: of Ozzie and Harriet, David and Ricky. Art Linkletter, Groucho Marx and Texaco Star Theater.
A loaf of White Wonder Bread was 29 cents. A gallon of regular gas was 29 cents. An ounce of gold was set at 35 dollars. A phone call at a pay phone was 10 cents. Records were 98 cents for a 45 single. The US was slowly recovering from the tragedy of the Korean War. The Salk Vaccine had all but obliterated Polio. Tetracycline had been invented to supplant our antibiotic treatments array and save lots of folks from various Venereal Diseases. Women had heard about something called “The Pill” which made them safe from unwanted pregnancy. Theraputic Abortions were being employed for rich white college girls and professional women. Blacks in the south were still segregated in schools and even down to drinking fountains. Blacks seldom voted in the Jim Crow world of both the North and the South that they lived in. because of the complicated testing and requirements – to even register to vote.
Mexicans were regulated to “Enclave Neighborhoods” and mostly tolerated because California which once belonged to Spain, had become a major labor source for Central Valley Farmers almost 100 years — after of course, using up all our local Native American tribe members which had encouraged by Spain to begin with. Dr. Sammy Lee – Olympic Gold Medalist in Diving ( who recently passed away) could not buy a home in Orange County, because of his minority status.
Our country in 1959 belonged to a million American Independent Farmers and Diarymen, the AMA, the Pharmaceutical Industry, The Defense Industry, The Oil and Gas Industry, The Auto Industry and Anglo/US Bankers. Japan began to Import very low budget autos to the US: called “The Datsun”. The Germans had brought the first VW Beetle in very small numbers in 1948. The Italians brought in a few “Fiat Sports Cars” and the British brought in the Triumph Sports Cars….while the French tried a few Peugeots – all on a very limited basis and all with High Tariffs. Homelessness in those days was also mitigated by the participation of all of our Churches, the Red Cross and local County resources. The Hobo, the Bum and Rail Riders mostly lived in the country sides of our America, where we didn’t see them. The poor women became prostitutes. Here in Orange County, we did have Tin Can Beach where literally thousands of Homeless lived right on the beach – from the Santa Ana River Jetty to Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach, which was County land at the time.
The results of our 2016 Election have left people wondering if after eight years of obstructionism by the Republicans will result now with the Democrats bending over and becoming “The Loyal Opposition”, willing to work diligently as if it was business as usual and repealing all the things that have been accomplished since 1959. Back to “Making America Great Again”. Going back to a “Porgy and Bess” world may not be in the best interest of our country. Going back to the days of “On the Water Front” may not be either. We simply offer these thoughtful words of the Merry Minuet as our ode to 2017!
The following song “Merry Minuet” by the Kingston Trio was our cautionary tale in 1959: 58 years ago!
They’re rioting in Africa
They’re starving in Spain
There’s hurricanes in Florida
And Texas needs rain
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don’t like anybody very much!!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man’s been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away!!
They’re rioting in Africa
There’s strife in Iran
What nature doesn’t so to us
Will be done by our fellow man