Carefree era of the 1950s was the cat’s pajamas

Way back in the 1950s, we had a whole different language than what passes for conversation these days.

“See you later, alligator,” one teen would say as they were heading for a class.

“After ’while, crocodile,” came the sing-song reply from the other.

That actually was a hit song of that time, by Bill Haley.

On a good day, during lunch hour, you got to ride in an old jalopy to cruise down Main Street for a few minutes of listening to the hit parade on the radio. Didn’t have a tape deck or CD player. Didn’t have ear phones, or buds, as they are now known. Just a simple AM radio.

It was just a matter of “don’t touch that dial,” if your favorite tune was playing. We were feeling hunky dory with the breeze blowing in the cranked-down windows. “Gee, willikers! That was swell,” and we were “in like Flynn” and “living the life of Riley.”

We were the teens of the ’50s — the girls in their poodle skirts, bobby socks, saddle shoes, penny loafers and pedal pushers. The hair was either bobbed or pulled back in a ponytail. I can tell you, we felt like the cat’s pajamas — carefree, without a worry in the world.

The guys were “cool cats,” with their slicked-back, greasy hair combed in a duck tail. That was partly due to the TV show “77 Sunset Strip,” with the character Kookie who wore his hair that way. If I recall, the phrase was, ”Kookie, Kookie, slick back your hair.”

I am certain that sometimes our parents lamented, “This is a fine kettle of fish,” in worrying about what was about to become of their offspring. But not for all the tea in China would they get us back to the old-style knickers and spats.

The best “bib and tucker” of their day gave way to a new bib and tucker of the ’50s. TV had come on the scene, and so we were able to see what was going on in the world. The house I grew up in did not have a TV until I was in seventh grade, but that was a great time to explore the teen world through “American Bandstand,” where we saw the latest dance steps to the latest music. Did Dick Clark ever get old? Not to us, “daddy-o,” which actually was a phrase gleaned from “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” a TV show.

In addition to the bandstand, there was the “Mickey Mouse Club.” Now admit it, the tune is playing through your mind as you think about that show. Annette Funicello was every guy’s dream, and every girl wanted to be just like her. All of this made us want to “Rock Around the Clock Tonight,” by Bill Haley and the Comets.

Funny, how we thought we were so cool, and yet most of our lingo was taken from songs or TV shows.

TV in the ’50s had lots of westerns — Marshal Dillon, “Have Gun — Will Travel,” “Wagon Train” and “Rawhide,” just to name a few. Can you name the young guy in “Rawhide” who is still directing, producing and sometimes acting in movies today? Yes, none other than Clint Eastwood.

Comedies such as “I Love Lucy,” “Father Knows Best,” “The Ozzie and Harriet Show,” “Burns and Allen” and “Leave it to Beaver” were staples. There were also variety shows, such as Ed Sullivan.

Way back in the 1950s, life was much different in America than it is now. Is it because so much has changed with technology? Or is it that I am no longer a teenager, and I now see things as a senior citizen?