Coming of Age | Atomic Bombs and Pepsodent Toothpaste


History is a great teacher. Recent media rumbles of a return to the Cold War era with Russia took me back to my beginnings…

Setting the Table After WWII

After WWII and up until the early 1960’s, the U.S. experienced a “coming of age.” Like a kid in one of Norman Rockwell paintings who suddenly jumped out of the portrait, after WWII the country poured all its energy into “setting the table” with an abundance of food that was a vague glow through a restaurant window during the “depression” years before WWII.

Norman Rockwell’s kid had it all, maybe too much. The children of the WWII generation grew up lacking something. Their mothers and fathers during the war years had “hope,” the so-called “baby boomers” had Lifebuoy soap. The boomer’s reaction was sometimes rebellious, captured in music and film. In the mid-‘50’s the marque for a movie titled, Rebel Without a Cause, replaced the WWII “Uncle Sam Needs You!” poster. Songs by musicians like Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley gave the new generation a sense of spirituality, an identity.

As a member of a lower middle class family in Southern California, I was taught to get under the desk at school in case of a nuclear bomb attack and to “brush my teeth with Pepsodent.” Growing up during this time, many of us sought refuge in music and the movies to cope with the rapid change that began in the late fifties.

South Pacific | A Young Man’s Dream

Other than Saturday matinee “creature features” at the Grand Theatre, the first “red carpet” movie I ever saw was South Pacific. At the fabulous Fox Theatre the WWII film romanticized soldiers who “fraternized” with women of other races. For whatever reason, this movie and the odor of a “Tiger Jacket” that my brother, a member of the US Navy, had brought back from Japan would have a profound effect on me.

I embraced JFK’s determination to send a man to the moon in the ‘60’s and the invasion of The Beatles. I didn’t join the peace movement nor did I get involved in the Viet Nam War, but I did hearken to a different calling…

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