Some people think the 1950s are played out as a decade, that the glorification of the supposed “golden era” of America is unjustified. I get that. Let’s be honest with ourselves, the people of America had issues back then; the nation as a whole had problems. Calling it the “golden era” and pretending that it was a time of unsurpassable peace and prosperity is a bit off-putting. It ignores those who suffered back then and suggests to those of us now striving that the best times are past and never to return. Maybe we should drop the “golden era” tag.
That being settled, let’s loosen up a bit and move this conversation toward rock ‘n’ roll. Some praiseworthy stuff came out of the 1950s, stuff worth glorifying (Did I mention rock ‘n’ roll?). Lost In The ‘50s has been doing just that for the last 30 years here in Sandpoint. Now, in its 31st year,Lost in the 50's Sandpoint, Idaho excitement surrounding this celebration endures.
Why the 1950s though? If you asked someone what American era they would like to visit, you’re sure to end up with any number of answers. Period films and historical literature have depicted figures and events from almost every decade of American History. Is there something about the 1950s that resonates more with our contemporary national identity?
Is it just about getting lost in another time, another place, another world, that so intrigues us? Perhaps it begins with our ability to draw from our imagination and to mix that with our favorite memories. A bit of nostalgia feels good, especially when we recreate the best of what was alongside our favorite parts of what is. Then the page is ready to record new memories.
As I said, the ‘50s, like any time period we choose to glorify, wasn’t a decade absent of strife. It wasn’t the golden era of America. Is this revisionist history? Are we sweeping things under the rug? Or are we choosing to celebrate the highlights of our national history? I’d like to think it is the latter, and that there is no disservice in it. With that mindset, why not the ‘50s? If nothing else, there is at least one aspect worth reliving time and again – the music.
Everything cool about the ‘50s, the clothes and the cars for instance, seems to resonate rock ‘n’ roll and revolve around it. The components of rock ‘n’ roll had been mingling for years before they erupted into the sensational style of 1950s rock and roll. Styles like blues, jazz, gospel and country are all credited in the formation. All of those styles benefitted from the rise of rock ‘n’ roll and produced stars who are still household names. Better still, rock ‘n’ roll is credited for breaking down racial barriers, becoming a fusion of not only musical styles but race, ethnicity and culture.
I had the immense pleasure to discuss Lost In The ‘50s with its visionary founder, Carolyn Gleason. For over 30 years she and her team have poured effort and enthusiasm into the event. It has become an attraction, a tradition, and it stands strong as an all-around good time.
Lost In The ‘50s was born out of the Carolyn’s dream to see some of the great rock and rollers of the 1950s perform live and the idea to bring them to Sandpoint as a fundraising event. It began as a fundraiser for the Festival at Sandpoint. The first year she was able to book some of her favorite artists, Bobby Vee and Del Shannon.
Since that time, Lost In The ‘50s has featured performers like Frankie Avalon, Leslie Gore, the Dixie Cups, Bobby Rydell, Tommy Roe, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Little Anthony and the Imperials, and Peggy March. Carolyn admits that Lost In The 50s has surpassed her expectations. Remembering the first year, she commented:
“I never thought it would go on for years, I wasn’t thinking past the first year. It wasn’t the thought process at the time. We just wanted to see how many of the original rock and rollers we could get.”
Over the last 30 years, somewhere around 65 performers from the 1950s have played Lost In The ‘50s.
It’s pure passion keeping Carolyn and her team going year after year, passion for rock ‘n’ roll. That, and the feedback they get from young and old alike. Kids in particular have begged her not to quit. Even as it is getting harder to find performers from the era, Carolyn and her team have found ways to meet the demands of their audience.
Here’s how it’s going down this year. The good times start rolling on Thursday, May 19 at the Bonner County Fairgrounds with Rock & Roll Heaven. This is a show featuring some top shelf impersonators. The event is said to sell out every year, so get your tickets in a hurry! And if you are interested, there might still be some V.I.P. style tables available.
Come out on Friday, May 20 to the Classic Car Parade. Classic and vintage cars from every era will take a spin from Sandpoint High School through downtown. After that, the free Street Dance commences with DJ Bashful Dan at the helm. Then, head back over to the fairgrounds for more dancing, this time to The Flamingos, Chris Montez, and Rocky and The Rollers!
On Saturday morning, the downtown will fill up with classic cars for the Car Show. Witness downtown transformed. Be prepared to spend some time checking out some beautiful cars that will transport you back to every decade of American (and foreign) automotive history. Many of their owners will be there to share pictures and stories of the time and care they put into restoration.
Saturday night, it’s back to the fairgrounds for another Show & Dance. Al Brady, a man who is no stranger to rock and roll, will MC. You’ll see performances by Chubby Checker, Johnny Tillotson, and Rocky and the Rollers.
If you’re worn out by Sunday, the Aspirin Rally- Run 5k Fun Run will get your heart pumping again so you can finish strong. Not a runner? Emphasis here is on the fun. Afterward, the weekend wraps up with a Car Rally.
Maybe you missed the significance of the decade that brought us rock ‘n’ roll. Perhaps rock ‘n’ roll isn’t your thing. Well, how do you feel about getting together with some friends to enjoy music and dancing in the streets of small town America? You might find the ‘50s a worthy decade to reflect upon, and reliving it for one weekend a year in Sandpoint, Idaho a worthy and heartwarming cause.
For more information about Lost In The ‘50s, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, check it out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ lost50s.