As a small child I had wonderful dreams,

Dreams of making the world a better place.

Where those of a different race

Could put on a happy face

And mean it.

But violence was raising its head

Threatening to turn all streets red.

In 1956 the beginning of storms,

Those made by nature

And those produced by human nature

Had caught up with us.

The storms of both kinds

Were carried by winds, sudden and swift.

“Separate but equal” was the slogan

That stirred the fomenting mixture

And pushed the races toward inevitable clashes.

In the summer of 1956 grandpa died,

In a faraway magical land of fruits, nuts, and Hollywood stars.

To pay our respects we packed into cars

Travelling over vast deserts and against the heat

In three days we arrived, dusty and beat.

After the funeral life was reconsidered,

And my parents decided to live in a small town

far from the hot steamy nights

That brought our family to the San Joaquin valley

Away from the green grass and red clay

Away from arguments regarding race and moral decay,

Away from crappie and muddy catfish lakes

Over the Tehachapi mountains

To the arid desert climate of the valley.

I was amused by the bridges that stretched

Over dry stream beds that begged for water

and signs that read, “Dangerous when flooded.”,

“Avoid High Water”, or “Flash Flood Area.”

The concept of dry rivers seemed like an oxymoron.

My pronunciation of words began to change.

The southern drawl was under fire.

‘Pin’, ‘Pen’, ‘Pan” had different meanings

And I was expected to distinguish between them.

Vocabulary was slightly changed also to appease.

‘You all’ or ‘yawl’ became ‘you guys’ to please

The California trend setters.

‘Duck tails’, ‘crew cuts’, ‘flat tops’,

Hair dos and clothing fads,

Taken to the max,

Governor Faubus with his axe,

‘Hot rods’, cars with numbers or letters like GTO,

Movie stars or singers, each had a claim to fame

James Dean, Buddy Holly, Ricky Valens,

Became icons almost overnight

But when tragedies struck i finally learned their names.

Vietnam, the undeclared war,

Became a festering sore,

Splitting our country apart

There were those who said it made no sense

While some claimed, “It was a decision from the heart.”

JFK, Robert, MLK, all gunned down

Leaving holes in the fabric of society

Sports, school, moments when the country stood still

And lost its innocence and beauty,

Along with that it lost some pride

And much of the sense of duty.

‘Woodstock’, weed, hair styles, peace and rage

Marked the dawning of a new age.

The ‘baby boomers’ took front stage.

The dreams of making the world

A better place

Took a different pace.

Now we’re old and not so bold,

Asking questions about our dreams and goals.

Did my generation follow the quest

To make a difference to become the best

Or was it all just hype?

Maybe we’re not the type

To teach the world to sing

Or to bring love to each heart.

Discrimination still exists but I hope inroads

Have been made.

My dreams from youth won’t fade

I will hold the banner high

Cancerous cells will shrivel and die

And love, sweet love, will once again

Rule heavens and earth.


April 24, 2016 by Dan Roberson

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