You may have riches and wealth untold; / Caskets of jewels and baskets of gold.

But richer than I you will never be— / For I had a mother who read to me.

—Strickland Gillilan

Perhaps more than most I wax nostalgic for the 50’s, which was not a decade but an era that began in the late 1940’s and lasted through the early 60’s.  It was the best of times for Southern California kids to grow up, especially for those of us in Pacific Palisades.  On one side of our little town we had the ocean; on the other, the Santa Monica Mountains.  We surfed uncrowded breaks when there were waves and hiked through unspoiled canyons when there weren’t.  When we turned 16, we rode motorcycles on highways that saw little traffic or on dirt fire roads that saw none.  Moreover, it was long before the illegal-alien invasion, and most legal immigrants came from Western Europe.  Cars were hot rods, fights were with fists, crime was infrequent, and life was good.  There is little I would change about it.

An alien invader was present, however: television.  It arrived as a seemingly innocuous technological novelty but would eventually transform Americans and America in ways never imagined.  My own family was slow to adopt the new technology. ...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here