Sarah Martin


Throwback to the ’50s

The 1950s does not seem that long ago. My grandma was a teenager during that time and it was only a short 66 years ago. After researching for this article, I can honestly say it seems to be one of the most important decades. Let’s stroll (stroll was a popular song and dance) down memory lane.  

Fashion was starting to take a slow turn. Girls mostly wore poodle skirts with bobby socks and oxford shoes. Guys wore jeans, white shirts and leather jackets, but the letterman jackets were for the jocks. Of course, the nerds may have dressed a little different. Girls did not wear jeans and definitely not shorts unless it was a one off. Bathing suits were one pieces. Hair for girls was usually in a ponytail or a bouffant up-do and guys’ hair was gelled back or a flat top buzz cut.

Entertainment would have definitely left today’s young adults bored to tears.  Some homes had rotary dial landline phones that were party lines. Party lines means that any neighbor may be able to pick up their phone and hear your conversation.  Not cool.  Further in the not cool area was there were no cell phones, no texting, no Ipods and no social media. Forget tablets, laptops or even desktop computers.

There was also limited television time and there were no DVDs, VCRs or rentals, let alone cable or satellite. In 1950, only 1 in 10 households had a TV but by 1959, 9 in 10 households had one.  TV shows such as “I Love Lucy” and “Gunsmoke” were popular. There was no Disney, Nickelodeon or other television channels for specific viewers. Disney broadcast a show on Sunday evenings, usually a movie or Mickey Mouse cartoon. After the news each night, the television channels all went off air. The only thing you could see was either static or a still shot of a TV Tower. So no reality TV.

Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” was the number one song of the decade. The Peanut’s comic was first printed in this decade, but not with Snoopy. Can you imagine no Snoopy? Marilyn Monroe was the top female film star and James Dean topped the male heartthrob lists. Movies costs 40 cents versus $7 before 6 p.m. in  today’s time. Gas was only .19 cents per gallon, compared to a fluctuating $2.30 today, wish I could fill er’ up in the 50s!  The skating rink was a

Photo By Wikimedia Commons
Photo By Wikimedia Commons

popular hangout joint, where kids would dance the “sock hop” – or dance with socks, no shoes. Kids would smoke just to be cool and parents even encouraged the habit by doing it themselves. The main running commercial during the 1950s was on getting a pack of cigs. Things like car seats did not exist. Bike helmets were not enforced, so forget having to look uncool in the 50s.

The 1950’s also saw a lot of things invented that we cannot live without, like McDonald’s, credit cards and M&M’s.  Also aluminum foil, TV dinner, Barbie, Mr. Potato Head, Life Savers Candy, Corvette cars and birth control. Oh and Playboy magazine printed its first issue in 1953. And to sum it all up the average home costs $14,000.00. So all in all while lots of new things like technology have been invented since the 1950s, I would hands down prefer the cost of gas and a house over that of today.

Travel Around the World: Scotland

About three years ago in 2013 I took a trip to Scotland with my high school. My high school does an exchange program with another high school in Scotland every year, and I got the chance to go. Thirteen Americans and thirteen Scots host each other and from the very beginning, the trip was amazing. From February and up until it was time to

Photo By Sarah Martin
Photo By Sarah Martin

leave in June we had a ton of preparation meetings to attend. The meetings covered the basics, how to get a passport, how to put money into a bank account and use it overseas, etc. Well, the day had finally come, and it was time to leave. We all met at the airport in Raleigh-Durham International Airport at six in the morning, said bye to our loved ones and went through all the necessary airport checkpoints.

When we finally got on the plane, I was so scared. I had never been on a plane before so I was very uneasy. My friends reassured me everything would be alright. As the plane was lifting off I was expecting a much larger incline, but it was fine. Everything felt normal, so I just tried to relax on this 14-hour flight. When we finally arrived in Scotland, we had to wait for a bus to come pick us up. The bus finally came, and then we spent four more hours on a bus driving through Glasgow trying to make it to our destination in a timely manner. Our destination was Oban, Scotland which is a small town right on the edge of Scotland by a major fishing port. Each one of us Americans had been paired with one of the thirteen from Scotland. They were our hosts. I met mine, and she was just darling. We had so much in common, she showed me around her classes and her school and explained to me their school system. There are so many differences in the schooling system it’s unbelievable! I sat in one of her classes with her; it was her English class, and they were reading Hamlet (okay maybe not so different). They walk everywhere in Oban since it’s a small town, so we walked about 3 miles to her house. All of the Americans said goodbye to one another, and we would see them in a few days for planned activities. The first few days we were free, and the host families’ can do whatever they wanted to do with us. So, I met her mother and her sister. Her dad was a fisherman and wouldn’t be back for a few days since he was out at sea. Their houses, for the most part, resemble America, but their bathrooms are something else! Everything is separated: the toilet, shower and sink have their own room!

The most intense part of the trip was the food. The food was so different from American food. One day, we had a formal dinner to attend with all the thirteen scots and thirteen Americans. The menu consisted of  two options, fish and Haggis. I do not really like to eat fish, so I got Haggis, I thought it sounded nice whatever it was. The food came, and it looked just like meatballs and some rice. I tried my first bite, and I about threw up. One of the Scots then laughed at me, and I asked if I had something on my face. And the guy said, “No, do you know what you are eating?” I politely said “No” and he laughed some more. Intrigued I asked, “What is it?” He is non-stop laughing at this point and then whispers… “Sheep testicles.” I about died and had to excuse myself to go puke a little.

They also have a McDonalds, which I figured they would, McDonalds is everywhere. But their chicken doesn’t taste like chicken. Their burgers are really grainy, and their drinks are less carbonated. The food was a definite culture shock.

My favorite part of the whole trip was going with the whole group kayaking right off the coast of Scotland. There was this big cliff that is known for jumping, and we all got in line to jump off the cliff, and I did it! I was so proud I did that! Another thing we did was go to a Ceilidh which is a Scottish dancing party. They showed us all the famous Scottish dances, and we tried to mimic them. Another fun activity was going to tour all the castles in Scotland; that was a thing my host family did privately with me. We also drove out to Skye where my hosts grandpa lived, and that was the most beautiful place. Mountains on one side, and ocean on the other side. It was so serene; I would go again in a heartbeat.

For anyone who is curious about traveling, or is just thinking about going abroad, DO IT! It was so much fun to experience another culture from our own, although as soon as we landed I went to the nearest McDonalds and ordered a BigMac. Learning about other cultures, especially your own heritage is such a joyful process. Do study abroad, do take trips, explore, because you only live one life, make it count!



Book Review: ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’

Photo By 20th Century Fox
Photo By 20th Century Fox

If you are tired of reading a regular book, pick up a copy of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” The book has many differentiating characteristics that make it unique, such as hundreds of old photos throughout the book, a plot twist and a spooky story. “Miss Peregrine’s” was first published in June 2011, and for the past two years the book has been a New York Times bestseller. The author, Ransom Riggs, has definitely put a spin on the classic novel.

The novel’s protagonist is Jacob Portman, who seems like a basic teenager at first, working, going to school, nagging parents, and a crazy grandfather who claims he sees “things.” Jacob soon finds out his grandfather is not crazy and has been telling the truth about all these “things” he sees, including the odd children he talked so much about. Sadly, Jacob only realizes this after his grandfather is tragically killed. But the big question, is by whom, or what? Jacob wants answers, but to get them he must undermine his parents. Jacob saw his grandfather the night he was killed and thought he saw some sort of animal, or vicious creature staring at him, something his grandfather always described, but no one ever believed him. Jacob tells his parents that he saw whatever it is that had killed his grandfather. Obviously, they want him to go to therapy because they think he is insane. He goes to therapy and the therapist is nice, helpful and convinces Jacob to try and find answers.

Jacob does just that and goes to help his parents clean out his grandfather’s house, hoping Grandpa Abe left him some clues. He finds some old, and very strange photographs, and a letter written to Abe from Emma, and a picture with ‘Miss Peregrine’ written on the back. Who is Emma? Who is Miss Peregrine?  Abe makes Jacob basically go through a scavenger hunt, trying to find all the clues to find out the truth. Because of the clues Abe left him, Jacob is convinced there is an island and he must go there to find out what is going on. His parents are finally persuaded after Jacob’s therapist tells them it would actually be a good idea, but Jacob’s father decides to go with him. So Jake and his father travel to this remote island near Wales to find Miss Peregrine and all of the peculiar children in the photos, including this Emma character. Once they arrive, Jake finds the house that Miss Peregrine and the children lived in, but was surprised to hear that the home was destroyed by bombs during WWII. Jake has not given up just yet however and decides to just wander around the house to see if he finds anything. As he was exploring the house, he sees some kids walking around and hears them. He chases after them, and follows them into a tunnel. One of them was Emma, and the tunnel is a secret time portal that brought Jacob back to the day the house got bombed, back in WWII. From this point on, Jacob realizes all the mysterious things about the island, and all the secrets it holds. For the rest, you will have to read it!

It was a really interesting book, although in some places it seemed a bit juvenile. I really enjoyed looking at all of the old, edited strange photos that accompanied each peculiar child. There are a lot of plot twists, but one I didn’t see coming towards the very end. I couldn’t just lay in bed and read this, I had to sit up; it was that intense at times. It is a perfect spooky and adventurous book especially for the season approaching (Halloween!). The movie is coming out later this month, and that will hopefully convey the book well.

The book is available at almost every store that sells books, Barnes-&-Noble, Amazon, etc.

The movie comes to theatres on Sept. 30, 2016. Go check it out!

Enjoyed “Miss Peregrine’s”? Check the next two sequels, “Hollow City,” and “Library of Souls.”

Rating ⅘.