Watching the movie “Elvis” — portraying singer Elvis Presley’s life and career – prompted me to think back to 1956, when pop charts included 11of his songs. Several memories popped up.
When his movie “Love Me Tender” came to my small Mississippi hometown, teenagers walked to the movie or rode our bikes, with safety assured. Who would attack us or steal our bikes?
There were no mass shootings. The only Mass I heard about was associated with the town’s one Catholic Church.
We practically lived for the SEC’s football season. Players felt great loyalty to their teams and their universities and didn’t consider transferring elsewhere. Plus, they were true amateurs. NIL contracts would have been deemed absurd.
In the workplace arena, good performers expected lifetime employment, quite possibly with the same company. “Downsized” wasn’t a word.
Marriage and family solidarity were strong. Parental discipline was the norm. Mother and Daddy said grace at meals and took the children to worship services.
How we respected our teachers and principals, even politicians and police.
However, I’m a realist. Time has not made me forget the severe injustices of that era. Racial segregation deprived minority citizens of their rights. Women in the workforce were assigned clerical duties only. Fortunately, along came MLK, Ralph McGill of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gloria Steinem and other courageous leaders who advocated justice and equality.
Not surprisingly, looking back challenges me to look forward, too. Elvis died in 1977, 46 years ago. Realistically, facing the demoralized, divisive and dangerous scene we live in now, I wonder if in 2069 people will say reflectively about the 2020s, “Those were the good old days.”
If so, I’m glad I won’t be around to watch a crazed world get even crazier.