Looking Back – A 1950’s Boyhood


A Memoir by Craig Nagel

The aim of this book is not to glorify days gone by, or to suggest that the past was superior to the present. I’ve tried, instead, to present as accurately as possible what life was like in my own boyhood, with the hope that these recollections might stir parallel memories and provoke the reader to reflect on some of the ways the world has changed, for better or for worse, over the intervening decades.


          1953. Ike had just been elected president, the Russians announced they’d built their first hydrogen bomb, and the war in Korea came to a tentative stop. Albert Schweitzer was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Jonas Salk gave himself and his family doses of the polio vaccine. The Beatles were still ten years away. While waiting for them, we happily made do with Perry Como and Patti Page. In March of that year Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin died and I turned eleven.

          Much has been written about the Good Old Days. Lovers of nostalgia insist that the world isn’t nearly as pleasant as it used to be; that when we were kids nobody worried about getting assaulted or kidnapped by some perverted sex maniac, or having their lives ruined by getting hooked on drugs; and how back in those days people were just more honest and decent and neighborly. There may be some truth to such assertions. But I’ve come to believe that what we think of as the good old days were essentially the days of childhood, when things were simply simpler, before the first harsh winds of adulthood began buffeting our souls.

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