Fifty years in the making |

Fifty years in the making

April E. Clark
April in Glenwood
April Clark
Staff Photo |

Yesterday morning I was sitting at the kitchen table, and my friend announced from the next room that it was the lava lamp’s 50th birthday.

I stopped for a moment and thought, “Wow, lava lamps were around 50 years ago.” Doesn’t that liquid technology still blow people’s minds?

I guess that depends on the person.

Maybe it’s because the Baby Boomers who grew up in the 1960s seem so young and sprite. At least they do in the erectile dysfunction commercials.

I don’t blame them.

Maybe it’s because it’s not out of the ordinary to find clothing from 1963 timeless and gorgeous enough to wear 50 years later. Think Jackie Kennedy and her Coco Chanel wool suits and Oleg Cassini strapless evening gowns.

Don’t even get me started on the go-go boots.

Perhaps the 1960s don’t feel like five decades prior because Johnny Depp, Lisa Kudrow, Brad Pitt and Elisabeth Shue, just to name a few, turn 50 this year. It could be me fighting my real age outside of my 30s, but that seems impossible. Wasn’t Brad Pitt just shirtless and 20 in “Thelma and Louise?” Wasn’t Elisabeth Shue just making all the boys crazy in my middle school as Ralph Macchio’s love interest in “Karate Kid?”

I once dated a guy who had it bad for Ms. Shue.

Fifty years ago I wasn’t alive. I may have been a tiny twinkle in the eye of my then-teeny-bopper mother who dreamt of one day having a boy and a girl with a house in the country and summer vacations to Disney World.

So that kind of happened.

In 1963, Beatlemania was just starting to feverishly beat down the Do Not Enter-emblazoned bedroom doors of teenage girls in America. They sang crazy rock ’n’ roll songs about loving and holding of hands. They were the Beatles and they were cute and had bowl haircuts. The world — especially my grandfather — had never seen anything like these guys. Or the Rolling Stones.

And Bob Dylan for that matter.

Fifty years ago, the civil rights movement was alive with passionate cries for equality in our country. That vision of not letting skin color matter in how we view each other had mostly gone unrecognized by generations past.

After the idealist ’50s, things were finally getting real in the 1960s.

Fifty years ago, Dylan wrote “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” which was released after John F. Kennedy’s world-saddening death. The times had changed, in so many ways. Life was looking especially different for women. They weren’t just going to college to get their MRS degrees anymore.

I must have missed that class.

Women were starting to fulfill roles outside of the June Cleaver-in-heels-and-pearls image portrayed on black-and-white TV. “Leave it to Beaver” subsequently ended in 1963, just as Mary Tyler Moore was vacuuming her way into America’s hearts in calf-revealing capri pants.

Oh, Mary!

In various ways, the world has come a long way in 50 years. Tuning into MTV or TLC at any given moment may prove otherwise. But I do think we have made some strides for humanity as people. One step for mankind since 1963 includes our voting in of an African American president and making gay marriage legal in the United States. There’s a good chance many people in 1963 didn’t expect that to happen in 50 years.

Or even 150.

The Beatles did ask us to “Come Together” in 1969, after all. So I’m glad we listened. I’m also happy that in the last 50 years “Star Wars” was created. As well as the mini frozen éclairs — can’t forget those — followed appropriately by Spanx.

And Ryan Gosling, of course.

Today we have so many amenities people didn’t have 50 years ago that it blows my mind like I’ve been staring at a lava lamp for 26 hours. We can DVR “The Voice” on bowling night. Or watch four football games at once, at home, on a gigantic movie screen. We can play Scrabble on our hand-held phones when we should be listening to the preacher at church.

I think when we were kids we played Hangman.

All over the world, we can capture social revolutions unfolding before our eyes on video. Then we can share that footage with millions in seconds. We can watch a daredevil walk over a section of the Grand Canyon on a tightrope without falling in or stopping to change his mind. We can listen to music while walking down the street without needing a vinyl record to put a needle on to play.

This would pretty much blow Doc Brown’s mind.

What puts a little smile on my face is the one thing we can still do, after all these 50 years. We can most definitely still plug in a lava lamp to get lost in its trippy, bouncing colors.

We can still make change happen, too.

April E. Clark listens to Martin Luther King Jr. deliver “I Have A Dream” from 1963 for inspiration in life. She recommends YouTubing it. She can be reached at

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