Larry LaRue

Not many decades fortunate enough to have an 'Oh, Glendora!'

When children gather 'round me - and I include my wife in that group - and ask what it was like growing up if the '50s, I try to stir myself from my nap and answer.

That was, I tell them, this country's last truly innocent decade.

In the '50s, we not only believed Howdy Doody was alive, we completely bought into the televised puppet show 'Beanie & Cecil' - and Cecil was nothing more than a sock.

We had the Rat Pack and beat poets, Saturday matinees and Rin Tin Tin.  I watched a teleision show - Space Patrol! - and sent off for a Space Patrol ring. When it arrived, made of plastic so thin you could squeeze it into vaious shapes, I wore it for weeks.

Tragically, I once stored it in my mouth and swallowed it.

And just before I turned seven, as my mother was driving me one place or another, I heard Perry Como on the radio singing 'Oh, Gledonra!'  At six, with my vast musical knowledge, I believed it to be the best song ever written.

I had no money, so I begged my mother to buy the record for me. I think it went for 49 cents. I played it in my room on a small record player that came in a box with a lid that closed like a suitcase.

I played it in the morning when my single mother got ready for work. I played it as soon as I got home from school. I played it, softly, after bed time.

Today, it's on my I-Pod. When it pops up on 'shuffle' every few months, I admit to singing it for a day or two afterward. 'Oh, Glendora!' began a love of music that has lasted all my life.

Want to know what growing up in the '50s was like. Take two minutes and 49 seconds and listen to Mr. Como.

And feel free to leave memories of your own youthful influences. They can't be any goofier than mine.