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A spiraling cluster of news & events from distant decades

The Roadhead Chronicles

By Mike Marino

Sample Chapter: Where Cool Was Born

Page 2 of 8


Barking beast machines of Great Lakes steel fully loaded with crowns of chrome, enough horsepower to light up the Bikini Atoll, and those fins, those big, wonderful magnificent fins. It was sex and steel, steel and sex. Fin to ground ratio's became reason for asphalt envy, and damned if it wasn't engine eroticism at first sight.

The radio's played loud, frozen dials set to 10 grease ball decibels as ducktails and ponytails moved to the rhythmic beat, in synch, and blended their voices as they sang along to the hormone harmonies of their youth. The radio's rocked, the cars had class, Brylcreem did you with a little dab, and the hula wiggler was the grass skirt queen high priestess of the dashboard. She ruled the realm from her windshield throne and hypnotized us with fuzzy dice that hung from the rearview mirror, swinging to the movement of the car with the precision of an automotive metronome. The culture of youth had experienced it's first fender bender, ok, it was more than that, it had collided head on in a demolition derby with the engineering creature-marvel-monster, Automobilius Asphaltius, and together they would create a world of burning rubber, rock and roll, and V-8 wonder wagons, and in the process create the ideal Roadhead Garden of Eden smack dab in the middle of the chrome-magnon galaxy.

The times, they were certainly a' changin', Mr. Dylan, as Brando and Dean replaced Hope and Crosby's lighthearted screen romps with angst laced films of rebellion and restlessness. The image of the family sedan and suburbia had been sideswiped by the "Wild One"'s Harley and that fabled and fabulous, although rebellious '49 Merc drove to the black leather jacket edge of the cliff in a race to nowhere.

Ike was in the White House now, victorious in Normandy, and today fearful of the complexities posed by a military-industrial complex. The boomers were multiplying like rats as procreation reached meltdown levels and the seed of social rebellion was firmly in the ground, taking root, waiting to spring from the earth. The birth race was underway and there was no stopping it now. Not today, and certainly not tomorrow. Quite frankly, the nuclear nightmare of Hiroshima had shown a stunned world, that perhaps there wouldn't be a tomorrow after all.

There was an Arctic blast of political chill in the air as the Cold War was heating up. We were told that when the big boom and blinding blast light up the sky like the Fourth of July, to simply stop..drop..and cover! Nobody thought to tell us that in reality we would melt like a cheese sandwich on white toast. Our parents were feverishly stocking the backyard bomb shelter for the inevitable nuclear nightfall that would darken the skies forever and a day. Commies, pinkos, socialists and bolsheviks were hiding under every American virgins bed and behind every suburban red, white and blue bush. Better dead than Red!! Atomic secrets were flying out of the top secret backdoor faster than flying saucers at Roswell. Spies everywhere. Real life and imagined Boris Badenov's looking to do us in, until the insane Senator from Wisconsin, Big Joe McCarthy came along to serve as our maitre'd of patriotism and fear.

The Russki's were pounding their shoe on the political podium, and the We Will Bury You message was driven home everyday on radio and television until we were sick and tired of it's guttural growling. On the other side of the globe, the United Nations was bogged down in a Korean stalemate, and France, once gilt and gold, was being reduced to beans and franc's as they got souffled in the rice paddies of Indo-China, a place most Americans hadn't heard of yet, but soon would become all too familiar with.

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