Page references are from: Remember The 50s, Objects and Moments of a Dynamic Era, Edited by Mariel Marohn, Tectum Publishers (2011).
Several songs flooded my mind again these few days as I checked the 1953 pop charts on the internet. That year recorded many hits: Hank Williams', Your Cheating Heart, Nat King Cole's Pretend, Vic Damone's April In Portugal, Patti Page's How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? and an instrumental that lives forever, Eddie Calvert's Oh My Papa. Also Georgia Gibbs, Seven Lonely Days was like a refrain on the airwaves.
As I continued my journey through the 50s and using the book as guide, I could not remember seeing a Cadillac 59 anywhere on Singapore roads, nor a pair of Capris or a Kelly Bag but I did recall the tiny Matchbox Cars (image 3) which fascinated me as a teen (pages: 104, 88, 78, 74).
There were also hula hoops, ponytails, Tupperware, Chupa Chups and sewing machines which apparently dominated the 1950s as 'sales leapt dramatically during this decade (page: 61).' We had 6 Singer sewing machines at home as my family ran a tailoring school.
Again those years of pops kept filling my head to the brim: A Dear John Letter by Jean Shepard and Ferlin Huskey, Till I Waltz Again With You by Teresa Brewer, No Other Love by Perry Como and sexy Silvana Mangano dancing the mambo in Anna, El Baion (image 2). It was the movement and sensuality of Mangano's performance that attracted a large audience at the Rex cinema daily.
The book concluded with chapters on Hollywood churning superstars and Shaw Brothers and the Cathay Organisation in Singapore importing the movies they acted in. We were seduced by Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Alfred Hitchcock and King Elvis (pages: 162, 166, 172, 174 and 168).
One thing was missing in Singapore even up till today. It was a scintillating magazine that shook the earth but never came to our shores. Playboy (page: 160) was launched in the same year by Hugh Hefner with the cover of Monroe (image 1).
With 175 pages of fun, reading the book could seduce you too and take you on that journey to way back when. Are you familiar with the 50s? Or maybe your parents are?
*Read Part 1 of 3: Esplanade, Sea Dragon, Songs, Singapore Part I, Friday September 30th, 2011. Click 'Books' under 'Labels' below.
Images from Google.
This posting is not a book review.
Original article by Andy Lim.