Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Fabulous 1950s


In case you missed it yesterday, The Writers Almanac featured a fine poem by Alden Nowlan titled Great Things Have Happened and you can read it here


Notable Events on December 5.

Rosa Parks was a seamstress by profession; she was also the secretary for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. Twelve years before her history-making arrest, Parks was stopped from boarding a city bus by driver James F. Blake, who ordered her to board at the back door and then drove off without her.

Parks vowed never again to ride a bus driven by Blake. As a member of the NAACP, Parks was an investigator assigned to cases of sexual assault. In 1945, she was sent to Abbeville, Alabama, to investigate the gang rape of Recy Taylor. The protest that arose around the Taylor case was the first instance of a nationwide civil rights protest, and it laid the groundwork for the Montgomery bus boycott.

In 1955, Parks completed a course in "Race Relations" at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee where non-violent civil disobedience had been discussed as a tactic. On December 1, 1955, Parks was sitting in the frontmost row for black people. When a Caucasian man boarded the bus, the bus driver told everyone in her row to move back.

At that moment, Parks realized that she was again on a bus driven by Blake. While all of the other black people in her row complied, Parks refused, and was arrested for failing to obey the driver's seat assignments, as city ordinances did not explicitly mandate segregation but did give the bus driver authority to assign seats.

Found guilty on December 5, 1955, Parks was fined $10 plus a court cost of $4, but she appealed.

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks
Martin Luther King in background

Back then, in the middle 1950s era, I was preparing to go into the Air Force, which after a minor surgery, I did so in the following year. On the train ride down to Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas I became one of many (four railroad cars full) trainees, many of them being black men.

In my hometown there lived all throughout my younger years only one black person, Mary Pinkerton, whose mother had been a slave. So the proximity of this group of black-skinned companions was something quite new to me. But tending toward teenage liberalist idealism, I had no trouble fitting in.

The train had a layover in Texarkana, Texas. Not in a railroad station, but in a train yard on the outskirts of town. It was announced that we would be in that location for more than two hours and we could all disembark and visit the nearby cafeteria.

We did so en masse, all four railroad cars of young men from the Northern states of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and New York. When we got to the cafeteria we found that the front entrance was labeled


After a hurried consultation, wherein the WHITES declared they would eat in the back with the COLOREDS, and the blacks among us all said that, no it was fine and we should ignore it instead of causing trouble, So what we did was just yell out our displeasure and all of us turned around and went back to the train without any food.

Once, a long time ago, I wrote a short story about that incident. But it was an amateurish attempt. I didn't like the story and never tried to get it published. I have a notion to search through my old files on one of my memory sticks and look at it again. Or, if I can't find it, I might rewrite it. In fact, that would probably be my best bet.




A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest.


Birthday: December 5, 1932
Age: 79 years old

Richard Wayne Penniman, known by the stage name Little Richard, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, recording artist, and actor, considered key in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the mid-1950s. He was also the first artist to put the funk in the rock and roll beat and contributed significantly to the early development of soul music.

"Tutti Frutti" reached #2 on Billboard's R&B chart. Seventeen more hit singles followed in less than three years, three of which reached number 1. While most of these hits were characterized by a driving piano, boogie-woogie bass line, a variety of rhythmic drumbeats, and wild screams before Lee Allen's sax solos, such as "Rip It Up", "Lucille", "Jenny, Jenny", "Good Golly, Miss Molly", "Keep A-Knockin'", "True Fine Mama". During this period, Penniman's "electrifying movie-star looks" were featured as he performed his hit songs in three films, including The Girl Can't Help It (1956), in which he sang the hit title track, Don't Knock the Rock (1956), and Mister Rock and Roll (1957).

Birthday: December 5, 1901
Died: December 15, 1966

Walter Elias "Walt" Disney was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon, and philanthropist, well known for his influence in the field of entertainment during the 20th century. Along with his brother Roy O. Disney, he was co-founder of Walt Disney Productions, which later became one of the best-known motion picture producers in the world. The corporation is now known as The Walt Disney Company and had an annual revenue of approximately US$36 billion in the 2010 financial year.

Disney is particularly noted as a film producer and a popular showman, as well as an innovator in animation and theme park design. He and his staff created some of the world's most well-known fictional characters including Mickey Mouse, for whom Disney himself provided the original voice.

During his lifetime he received four honorary Academy Awards and won 22 Academy Awards from a total of 59 nominations, including a record four in one year, giving him more awards and nominations than any other individual in history. Disney also won seven Emmy Awards and gave his name to the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in the U.S., as well as the international resorts Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Birthday:   December 5, 1839
Date of death: June 25, 1876

George Armstrong Custer was a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the Indian Wars. Raised in Michigan and Ohio, Custer was admitted to West Point in 1858, where he graduated last in his class. However, with the outbreak of the Civil War, all potential officers were needed, and Custer was called to serve with the Union Army.

His disastrous final battle overshadowed his prior achievements. Custer and all the men with him were killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, fighting against a coalition of Native American tribes in a battle that has come to be popularly known in American history as "Custer's Last Stand".

Birthday:   December 5, 1782
Date of death: July 24, 1862

Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States (1837–1841). Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President (1833–1837) and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson (1829–1831).


On general principle, I boycott shows that don't employ actors.
--Aisha Tyler


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