Monday, February 6, 2012

What Happened In My Birth Year, 1953?

February 6, 1953 ... my Birthday.
In 1953, the world was a different place.

There was no Google yet. Or Yahoo. Or, for that matter.

In 1953, the year of your birth, the top selling movie was Peter Pan. People buying the popcorn in the cinema lobby had glazing eyes when looking at the poster.

Remember, that was before there were DVDs. Heck, even before there was VHS. People were indeed watching movies in the cinema, and not downloading them online. Imagine the packed seats, the laughter, the excitement, the novelty. And mostly all of that without 3D computer effects.

In the year 1953, the time when you arrived on this planet, books were still popularly read on paper, not on digital devices. Trees were felled to get the word out. The number one US bestseller of the time was The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas. Oh, that's many years ago. Have you read that book? Have you heard of it?

In 1953... Nikita Khruschev is selected First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party. Marshal Josip Broz Tito is chosen President of Yugoslavia. The Crucible, a drama by Arthur Miller, opens on Broadway. Walt Disney's 14th animated film, Peter Pan, premieres at the Roxy Theatre, New York City. Ian Fleming publishes his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale in the United Kingdom. Austria and the Soviet Union form diplomatic relations. The U.S. executes Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for spying for the USSR. The CIA helps to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran, and retain Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on the throne. The discovery of REM sleep is first published by researchers Eugene Aserinsky and Nathaniel Kleitman.

That was the world you were born into. Since then, you and others have changed it.

The Nobel prize for Literature that year went to Winston Churchill. The Nobel Peace prize went to George Catlett Marshall. The Nobel prize for physics went to Frits Zernike from Netherlands for his demonstration of the phase contrast method, especially for his invention of the phase contrast microscope. The sensation this created was big. But it didn't stop the planets from spinning, on and on, year by year. Years in which you would grow bigger, older, smarter, and, if you were lucky, sometimes wiser. Years in which you also lost some things. Possessions got misplaced. Memories faded. Friends parted ways. The best friends, you tried to hold on. This is what counts in life, isn't it?

The 1950s were indeed a special decade. The American economy is on the upswing. The cold war betwen the US and the Soviet Union is playing out throughout the whole decade. Anti-communism prevails in the United States and leads to the Red Scare and accompanying Congressional hearings. Africa begins to become decolonized. The Korean war takes place. The Vietnam War starts. The Suez Crisis war is fought on Egyptian territory. Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and others overthrow authorities to create a communist government on Cuba. Funded by the US, reconstructions in Japan continue. In Japan, film maker Akira Kurosawa creates the movies Rashomon and Seven Samurai. The FIFA World Cups are won by Uruguay, then West Germany, then Brazil.

Do you remember the movie that was all the rage when you were 15? Planet of the Apes. Do you still remember the songs playing on the radio when you were 15? Maybe it was Hello, Goodbye by The Beatles. Were you in love? Who were you in love with, do you remember?

In 1953, 15 years earlier, a long time ago, the year when you were born, the song Rags to Riches by Tony Bennett topped the US charts. Do you know the lyrics? Do you know the tune? Sing along.

I know I'd go from rags to riches
If you would only say you care
And though my pocket may be empty
I'd be a millionaire

There's a kid outside, shouting, playing. It doesn't care about time. It doesn't know about time. It shouts and it plays and thinks time is forever. You were once that kid.

When you were 9, the movie The Magic Sword was playing.

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... it's 1953. There's TV noise coming from the second floor. Someone turned up the volume way too high. The sun is burning from above. These were different times. The show playing on TV is Author Meets the Critics. The sun goes down. Someone switches channels. There's I Love Lucy on now. That's the world you were born in.

Progress, year after year. Do you wonder where the world is heading towards? The technology available today would have blown your mind in 1953. Do you know what was invented in the year you were born? The MASER. Medical Ultrasonography.

One, two
Where were you back in 1953?
Too young to remember, but old enough to say
That war lied

That's from the song Burnt Alive by Rocket From The Crypt.

In 1953, a new character entered the world of comic books: Chilly Willy. Bang! Boom! But that's just fiction, right? In the real world, in 1953, John Edwards was born. And Paul Allen. Pierce Brosnan, too. And you, of course. Everyone an individual. Everyone special. Everyone taking a different path through life.
It's 2012.

The world is a different place.

What path have you taken?

February 6, 1953 ... my Birthday.