Lash's Place- Downey High News!

by Bill O'Neill

Hail the Class of Fifty-Two:
Flat-tops, tee-shirts, Levi's blue;
Long skirts, sweaters, argyle sox–
Eastside beer; vodka, on the rocks
And on the sly...

Born in Depression, raised in War,
Our class was expected to go far.
Hard-working parents, all of them glad
Their kids had a better chance than they'd had–
As indeed we did...

Our town was a different place in those days,
A better place, in many ways.
Oh, we had poor folks, all right–
But at least you were safe on the streets at night
(Long as you stayed clear of Jimmy Hearn...)

Plaid skirts, peggers, blue suede shoes,
Popular music, rhythm & blues;
Before the Beatles, or Elvis Presley
We were rockin'to music that was played expressly
For us, and our generation.

Little Richard, Fats Domino, Penguins, Platters,
Big Jay McNeeley, and Clyde McPhatter–
Then it was "rhythm and blues," later called "soul;"
Our music was the forerunner of rock 'n roll.
And now they call it "Golden Oldies"...

The players at the picture show:
Little James Dean, Marilyn Monroe.
High Noon / Earth Angel / Little White Cloud that Cried–
Can it be that they've all died?
Where are they now...?

In '52 we were young and wild,
Though looking back today, what we did was mild.
A kiss and a squeeze was considered a thrill,
Before the day of the marvelous PILL.
SHEIKS and TROJANS, indeed!

North Downey Avenue, a two-lane street;
Petting parties, in the back seat–
Steamy windows, cheap perfume,
Thrills galore, but not much room! ...
Ah, the fragrance of orange blossoms, at dawn!

Midnight races, hotrod Fords–
Hawkeyes, Jokers, Lancers, Lords:
Pity the guy who had no wheels;
Pity me–I know how it feels.
But my senior year, I got rollin' in my '36 Ford sedan...

Zis-Boom-Bah! Football hero!
Covina, 41;
Losers? No! We beg your pardon–
Our team fought hard, and BEAT Bell Gardens.
And if we coulda scored just 53 points, we woulda beat Montebello, too...

Recall those girls of '52?
Those beautiful foxes, exciting to view?
Soft, silken hair, unlined faces;
Whispered secrets, breathless chases–
Ah those lingering embraces...!


And those brazen boys of days gone by
Who swaggered the halls of Downey High,
And set young girls' hearts aglow;
Was it really FIFTY YEARS ago...?


* * * *

It's good to see old friends again,
Though some are still disgustingly thin–
While others have grown bald, and fat.
Man! I'm glad I don't look like that! ...
Or DO I??

Now, let's go back, in time and space
Back to a friendly, familiar place,
When days were warm, and nights were cool
And we were all just kids in school–
And we still had dreams...

Dreams of passion, dreams of wealth,
No nightmares about one's health;
Not even a seed of doubt implanted–
Health was a thing we took for granted.
And nobody cared if you SMOKED three packs a day...

After Korea came years of peace.
We settled down to a life of ease;
Spoiled our children, gave 'em cars,
And they blamed us for starting wars.
(Oh, how could I have raised a rebel child?...)

Flower children sprouted, venting their rage
Against the values of folks our age.
They drove us to the end of our rope,
Burnin' flags, and smokin' dope–
They still say they were right; but me, I say they were WRONG.

Years of torment swept our nation,
Years of hatred, assassination;
John Kennedy died; we asked what for?
Our sons reluctantly marched off to war,
And some of them died, too, in a place called Vietnam...

We all must wonder, now and then
About how things might have been–
But it's very clear, if you read the signs
That we have lived in the best of times.
And for that, we should be thankful!

Thankful for the land we live in,
And for the blessings we've been given;
Thankful to the Lord above
For our freedom to live, our freedom to love.
AND, for our will to preserve that freedom!

Sometimes I don't like what I see,
Looking around this coun-tr-y;
I'll say it out loud, instead of just hintin'–
We're well rid of that Slick Willie Clinton.
(What this country needs is another Harry Truman...)

My lady says that one of these days
Shešll cure of my redneck ways.
Now she may try–though (God forgive 'er!)
I'd just as soon give up my liver.
(Which may happen anyway, if I donšt tone down my drinkin'!)

Hey, that's enough of my whiskey talk;
Let's all get together, and take a walk
Let's stroll down Memory Lane, and then
Turn me around, and let's do it again.
Let's talk about those good old days, in Downey...)

Recall the names of friends we knew
In that Magic Year of Fifty-Two.
And remember those who did their best
To teach us history, and all the rest
Of those things we should have learned...

Now, let's fill our glasses high,
And drink a toast to DOWNEY HIGH;
To classmates living, near and far;
And others, who have crossed the bar.
Good night, and may God bless you all.