Letter from the Editor Issue 67

Summer CSANews Issue 67  |  Posted date : Jul 22, 2008.Back to list

The year 1956 was a great year! My first real car was a 1956 Jaguar XK140 (an MCDHC, for those who know about these things) at the enormous cost of $800. The money, which I certainly did not have in those days, had to be borrowed from my Uncle Clarke who was, needless to say, quite skeptical. This was my first experience with borrowed money and he was a very good teacher. My friends naturally chipped in $0.25 for gas whenever we went anywhere. The car was a two-seater, but the more people we crammed in, the more quarters, and the farther we could go.

Canada's free-for-everyone Medicare system was being developed by our politicians in 1956 and would emerge as the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act, which was passed into legislation the following year. The act provided all Canadians with free hospital care and diagnostic services. Tommy Douglas and the province of Saskatchewan were, of course, in their 10th year of free hospital care by that time; but better late than never, as they say.

Canada, during the 1956 Suez Canal Crisis, recommended the formation of the first United Nations Peacekeeping force. We led that first mission and our leading role as international peacekeepers began. "Ten North Frederick," by John O'Hara, was one of the top books to read and "I Love Lucy" edged out the "Ed Sullivan Show" as the top-rated TV show. And we all remember "Around the World in 80 Days" which won 1956's Oscar for best picture and Yul Brynner who won best actor in his first major film role in "the King and I." The beautiful Ingrid Bergman won her second Oscar for best actress in "Anastasia." Six different films won the top six Oscars in 1956, a feat not repeated for 49 years. And if you are a serious hockey fan, you already know that it was the Montreal Canadiens with "Rocket" Richard four games to three over the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup. As an editor, I can sympathize with the people engraving the Stanley Cup names that year. They spelled Claude Provost's name wrong and called Bob Turner a trainer (he was a defenceman).

Do you remember the cars of 1956? – the spectacular Ford Thunderbird, the odd but somehow endearing little Nash Metropolitan, the Plymouth Fury and the still-famous Chevy Bel Air convertible. You could drive around town and listen to Elvis Presley singing his first hit song "Heartbreak Hotel," if you were lucky enough to own both a car AND a radio?

A few pages on, there is a letter to the editor of the September 1956 "Motor Trend" magazine and the topic is the ridiculous gas prices of 1956. Fifty years later, I refuse to allow these still-ridiculous gas prices to ruin my summer travels. I will walk to the corner store more often, be more careful in letting the car idle and perhaps even ease up on the gas pedal a bit. But my occasional weekend drives in the country are sacrosanct and my family and friends will just have to chip in some gas money. I hope to see you out there; just look for a car with more people than seats. Enjoy your summer – it appears to have started like a great one, but don't they all.

Did I mention that I was young in 1956?

Related links
Download full issue in PDF format
Download French version in PDF format