Friday, February 10, 2012

The Greatest Generation

Because so many people have requested it, today's walk down memory lane is going to be the poetic one I took with those senior citizens who attended the A Night to Remember activity put on by the members of my husband's singles ward last weekend. The poem served as an introduction to the vintage entertainment that evening. Hope you enjoy the nostalgia...

The Greatest Generation
©2012 Susan Noyes Anderson

The Greatest Generation!
Thanks for all you’ve done and do.
We’re really glad to have you here,
so we can honor you.

No matter what year you were born,
the 30s, 20s, teens…
Tonight we’re gonna treat you right,
just like kings and queens.

And if we have some 1940
babies in our midst,
we welcome you as well…
That’s why we put you on the list!

We hope you like nostalgia, ‘cause
this night is all about it.
(If we’ve forgotten anything,
feel free to stand and shout it.)

From Ellington to Elvis and
from Satchmo to Sinatra,
we’re strolling right back through the years,
with all the joy they brought ya.

So come you dandies, flappers, swing kids,
hipsters, beatniks, boppers…
We’re hailing back to bobby sox,
and poodle skirts, and toppers…

You may have worn a zoot suit, with
a derby or a bowler.
Perhaps your hair was finger-waved
or curled around a roller…

No matter what your heyday was,
you’re all among the greats.
So buckle up your seat belts, friends,
‘cause memory lane awaits.

We’re off to see the wizard; shall
we take that old A train?
Judy Garland and The Duke knew
how to entertain.

The music still remains with us;
it stands the test of time.
Count Basie, Dizzy, Calloway…
Cole Porter was sublime.

Gershwin, Rodgers, and Berlin…
Benny Goodman, Ella…
She sang. She scatted. She had pipes!
Like…Stanley…yelling, “Stellaaaaa.”

(Or not.) ‘Cause Ella didn’t yell.
It’s Ethel that was loud.
Ethel Merman could have done
a screaming banshee proud.

Bing Crosby’s croon could make you swoon.
Sinatra’s did the job.
But Nat King Cole still stole the show,
while Frankie ducked the mob.

(He later formed the Rat Pack with
his pals, Deano and Sammy.
They hung out in Las Vegas, making
dealers’ hands get clammy.)

But I digress; that’s 60s stuff…
(Frank had a long career.)
Let’s get on back to WWII.
Is that Blue Moon I hear?

Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,
the Andrews Sisters said.
Does Mairzy Doats and Dozy Doats
still bounce around your head?

If so, this Sentimental Journey’s
got you In the Mood.
But that could change…If I said “Spam,”
would I get soundly booed?

What if I said, “Spam soup?” Would you
be eating yours right now?
I wouldn’t, but you might. (My dad
got used to nasty chow.)

Yep, rationing and war bonds:
sacrifices, left and right.
Rosie the Riveter…no men
and no nylons in sight!

Pearl Harbor changed the way you lived,
just like the Great Depression.
And once again, this country pulled
together; what a lesson!

(We need to learn that lesson now;
I hope we can retain it.)
Democracy takes sacrifice
and honor to sustain it.

It also takes community
and unity of heart.
You had that. And it showed up
in your culture…in your art.

Glenn Miller made the people dance.
Jack Benny made them chuckle.
Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis helped.
Those two made quite the couple.

And so did Burns and Allen...
George and Gracie, what a pair!
They all toured with the USO,
and brought cheer “over there.”

Composers brought it too, with music:
pop and patriotic.
God Bless America was born,
stirring but not quixotic.

You shared a goal, a common cause,
then worked to get it done.
And when the war was over, you
knew all of you had won.

D-Day, VE-Day, VJ-Day…
*Sailor Kisses Girl*…
Your vict’ry celebration had
the nation in a whirl.

Now I’ll Be Home for Christmas could
be more than just a song.
And I’ll Be Seeing You came true…
for many who’d been strong.

But not for all; some gave their lives
to keep our country free.
Those soldiers freed the world and changed
the course of history.

Each one of you was part of that,
at home or far abroad.
Americans united, conquered
evil, and thanked God.

And It's a Wonderful Life became
more than a Capra movie…
ENTER suburbs, Studebakers,
soaps, and Slinkies…Groovy!

Silly putty, Scrabble, green stamps,
Sullivan on Sundays.
Soda shops and cute car hops
and drive-in movies. Fun days!

You watched old films and new ones…
Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire.
Gene Kelly and Olivier,
BOTH Hepburns (glamour, squared)…

Clark Gable, David Niven,
Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant.
Errol Flynn and Charles Boyer
made the ladies pant.

Their movies made you laugh and cry…
Bogart and Bacall…
Laurel, Hardy, Shirley Temple…
(Wasn’t she a doll?)

Casablanca, Ingrid Bergman,
Grable, Princess Grace.
(She always seemed like so much more
than just a pretty face.)

Doris, Rock, and Pillow Talk.
Joan Crawford (not my fave).
Debby Reynolds, Mickey Rooney…
What great times they gave!

And radio was quite adept
at entertaining you.
Fibber McGee and Molly,
Life with Riley, Topper, too.

Amos and Andy, Abbot and Costello,
Our Miss Brooks
Dick Tracy and Flash Gordon from
those Action Comic books.

But TV soon took over…
Shows left radio behind.
Jackie Gleason and The Honeymooners
comes to mind.

Howdy Doody, I Love Lucy,
Dragnet, and Lone Ranger.
The Beaver was a favorite, too, and
Lassie was no stranger.

A culture was created that
was based on wholesome things.
(I wish we could reclaim it, and
the happiness it brings.)

Maybe we can; remembering
like this might be a start.
Sometimes, nostalgia is a way
to open up the heart.

So Que Sera, Sera. Play marbles,
jacks, and kick a can!
Remember Bosco, Ovaltine,
and Postum? I sure can.

Roll out the hokey-pokey
(and the barrel), while you’re at it.
Buy bubble gum and yo-yos, but
you can’t stuff phone booths, drat it!

Or eavesdrop on your party line...
Nope. Can’t do that no more.
And you won’t find Ipana toothpaste
at today’s drugstore.

You won’t find Brylcreem, either,
though a little dab would do ya.
But Alka-Seltzer still does send
that plop plop fizz fizz through ya.

What happened to those Jujubes
that stuck right to your teeth?
Don’t tell me that you miss them…
They gave dentists too much grief!

No Beeman’s gum, no Beechnut gum,
No Edsel, that’s for sure.
But that’s okay, that crazy car
was not meant to endure.

Remember Kilroy? (SO not here)…
Red Skelton? Coonskin caps?...
Cootie? Clue? Okay, I’m through!
I’m done now; that’s a wrap.

You see, I’ve gone on far too long.
It’s not this stuff; it’s you.
You held on, and you stood strong.
You did what you had to do.

War raised its ugly head again;
contention never ceases.
May opposition always teach us
just how precious peace is.

May this new generation seize
your torch and hold it high.
The light of your example shines
like stars across the sky.

That’s why they brought you here tonight,
to honor you and learn.
We need great generations, and
it’s time they take their turn.

These young adults who are your hosts
desire to understand
and live up to your legacy:
preserving this great land.

Of course, they’ll do it their own way,
and that’s as it should be.
No one could do it like you’ve done.
Thanks for the memory!


Gail said...

I am blown away!!!! I think I am much older than I thought because thanks to my parents, I knew this all!

Born in '54, these seem like my memories because of all the things my parents shared with me.

Thank you for honoring the greatest generation and may we have another!

Anonymous said...

Thank You Sue...
this is wonderful!
I was born in 1951
and I sure remember
but what I loved most
was knowing that my
Dad did his duty,
both in the Army & Navy,
loved his country,
took a bullet, and came home with a Purple Heart.
I can still see him
sitting in the living room
watching black & white ~
3 Stooges & Little Rascals
I consider this a tribute
to my Dad as well...
Thank you!

Nancy said...

WOW!! Sue you are amazing.... especially considering you were born way after WWII. Me, on the other hand, remembers all of it. I remember the air raids, blackout blinds and my Mom using makeup on her legs to look like she was wearing silk stockings ...then drawing a line up the back of the leg to cinch it! I remember that we were lucky to get meat once a month...usually ground sausage. Oh how I savored that sausage and made it last as long as I could. The music was the best. I grew up listening to all of that wonderful music. In my late teens, I have fond memories of dancing to Harry James on Saturday night at the Hollywood Paladium. We danced to Glen Miller songs and many others. It truly was the great generation. Thank you for the sentimental journey. (BTW, had one of my own last night listening to a tribute to The Carpenters).

Grandma Honey said...

They must have absolutely LOVED this!

Dixie Mom said...

So cool! I would have loved to hear it read that night. I'm sure they were all in awe as much as we are of you!

anitamombanita said...

OK, I PROMISE to read the whole thing!! I'm betting it's gonna be amazing...but I have to pay my bills more procrastinating...LOL

Sue said...

No pressure, Anita. I'm not even sure I'd have read the whole thing myself, if I hadn't had to!


Stacy Crawford said...


This is so cool. These are not my memories, but I enjoy a lot of these things from that great generation!

Lisalulu said...

What a WoNdErFuL trip down memory lane.. i loved reliving all that stuff.. well not reliving but remembering my parents and the music

karen said...

Really nice. Your greatest generation group must have been blown away. What a lovely thing to do for them!

Stef said...

Holy smokes! You are talented. I bet it was a bunch of fun!

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Stef said it all for us,,, Holy Smokes your so talented. lol
What fun I had tonight visiting you and reading this.
Boy nothing was left out on this memory walk. I must share this with my oldest brother. He will enjoy it as much as I did. Love you did this for us to enjoy.
Strange I was just reading on my Nook the kids gave me for Christmas and I thought of you and Darlene. So I put the Nook down went to my site to find your website and you were there leaving me a comment.
What a neat thing to happen here in our world of blogging.
Have a wonderful weekend

Cherie said...

That was all before my time but I still consider it "The good ole days". It seems like romantic times. And that picture is so classic!

Darlene said...

That really DID bring back memories. I think you covered just about all the bases too. I'm actually quite amazed that you could remember all that stuff. Not that you experienced them, but I guess I just never knew that you were even aware of a lot of these. Tell me, did you have to do a lot of reseaching? Of course I have to admit that I remember it all.........good memories, for the most part.

Thanks for posting this. A lot of people really wanted to read this poem, so I guess I am really quite surprised that you haven't had any more comments. Oh well, the night is young and the weekend long, so I am sure more will do so.

I, for one really did enjoy reading every word.

Dina @ 4 Lettre Words said...

I adore this, Sue. Really beautiful! (And, now I wanna Google a few of these great memories to see/learn more.) I know the group LOVED it!

EG Wow said...

Wow! I bet they LOVED this!

Splendid Little Stars said...

so packed full of nostalgia!
I've enjoyed Tom Brokaw's book The Greatest Generation.
This had to be very special for the attendees!

yaya said...

This was great! My Mom talked about all this stuff and more growing up in the war days. I even remember some of the things from the 60's! I have no doubt that everyone enjoyed the night the young adults put this together for them. What a fun thing to do!

Brian Miller said... covered so much ground in this one sue...and nicely done poetically...i dunno it flowed so well i did not even notice the length until i was 3/4 through...

Ames said...

My parents started their family late in life so I remember alot of these. ~Ames

JDaniel4's Mom said...

This is such a wonderful poem. I enjoyed reading about this generation.

Connie said...

I loved every word and enjoyed how you put your own personality and feelings in it. (Joan's not your fave? ;)
I hope they each got a copy of the poem.
Something I completely forgot about was Ipana toothpaste.

I could go on and on about the wonderful ness of it, but I'll stop here. Thanks for posting it.

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