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Getting Lost in the 50s

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Getting Lost in the 50s


    The first time I attended Lost In The 50's something seemed a little different. The cars still had that 4 barrel carburetor power. The dancing and music's hard driving four on the floor beat and the slow ballads as smooth as the fins on a '58 Caddy was still exciting, maybe even more since I hadn't heard it live for a while. Still something was different.
    The next night I decided to "dress for the occasion" and I found the difference. The pegged pants now needed to be relaxed fit. The tight, trimly tucked-in T-shirt needed to be replaced with a Hawaiian shirt, worn outside the pants, and the pompadour was only a far distant memory. But, the girls (yes girls, this was before politically correct) were still as cute in their poodle skirts or capri pants and bobby sox. Even though some were called Grandma now.
    Once again, in fact for the 17th time, this time warp comes to downtown Sandpoint and the Bonner County Fairgrounds. Lost In The 50's has become a highlight of May here. Over the years, thousands of street rods have cruised the streets.
    "All of the cars that come here are working cars," said Carolyn Gleason event coordinator. "Few, if any, will be trailered to town."
    Cruisin' begins this hi-octane weekend with the cars parading through town Friday night at 6 pm. "This parade is as big as the 4th of July," Carolyn said with pride. After the parade is a street dance in town and a dance and show at the Fair Grounds at 7:30. The music is as nostalgic as the cars.
    Bobby Rydell will be singing at the Fairgrounds. With 34 Top 40 hits to his credit, Rydell is an icon of the early days of rock and roll. Hits like Kissin' Time, We Got Love, Wild One, as well as Volare and Forget Him will make the decades melt away.
    Also appearing are The Shangri-Las, the "bad girl group" of the 60's. They bring with them hits like Leader of the Pack, Walkin' in the Sand and Give Him A Great Big Kiss. Vroom, vroom.
    With these greats will be Rocky and the Rollers. Often called "The Greatest Band Ever," they are becoming regulars at Lost In The 50's, making the trip from Florida seven times, with some of the members of the band rocking in Sandpoint even more with other groups.
    "My concept, all I wanted to do was bring a little nostalgia with real guest artists and cars," said Gleason. "It's all about the music and cars. And look, it's still rocking." Gleason's dream started 17 years ago with only 26 cars. This year she and her board of directors are expecting 600 to 700 cars.
    Lost in the 50's Inc. is the host of the event with its six-member board headed by Carolyn Gleason. The other board members are Sally Transue, Paul Perry, Marj Tilley, Betty O'Donnell and Bill Transue. Gleason also said "There are probably over 250 people involved all together."
    The economic impact on the city has never been calculated. "I know every hotel in town is full and people stay in Bonners Ferry, Hope and Coeur d'Alene" said Carolyn when asked how many people will come to town for the show.
Last week Carolyn even put me to work. I spent one of those beautiful sunny days riding around in a bright yellow '56 T-Bird looking for cool places to take pictures of the "Bird." Just another brutal day at work.
    Next assignment; rocking in the street and at the fair grounds. I wish I still had the youthful energy I once had for this music but at least I have the memories if not the pompadour. Thanks Carolyn and board for bringing the memories back to life.


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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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