For anyone who can be classified as a Baby Boomer, author Dennis Fried’s A Tongue in the Sink: The Harrowing Adventures of a Baby Boomer Childhood will surely become your new best friend. His delightfully warm and laugh-out-loud nostalgic look back at his childhood will ring more than a few memory bells and resonate deeply with those longing for “the good ole days.”
Using his own special brand of wit and wisdom, as evident in his previous hot-selling book, Memoirs of a Papillon: The Canine Guide to Living With Humans Without Going Mad, Fried serves up a hot and hilarious plateful of experiences as a kid growing up in a small upstate New York town during the 1950s. It was a time of towns with Main Streets, Saturday afternoon matinees and A-bomb drills, a time when kids played outside without fear of pedophiles, and a time when bullies used their fists and not semi-automatic weapons. A time of innocence, of possibility, and of a sense of community most kids will never know or understand.
This wild and wacky romp down memory lane makes comparisons between the world of small-town life and today’s chaotic and disconnected sense of existence. Yesterday wins hands down, and Fried uses many of his own childhood lessons to show just why. He covers first jobs, first girlfriends, first fights, and first dogs, as well as the meatier subjects of racial and religious differences and how they affected his tourist-invaded town. There are hints of more serious issues that the Boomer kids would grow up to face – the continuing Cold War tensions, the unrest of the 1960s, schools and violence, and even the threat of development and the growth of suburbia, but mostly this book focuses on the more fun elements of growing up and out of the comfort zone of youth.
Anyone who did not grow up in the 1950s will get a kick out of the descriptive narrative that gives a glimpse into a world long gone the way of having to get up and change the TV manually (yes, people actually had to do that, dear). Those who grew up in the '50s and '60s will especially enjoy the walk down memory lane, and the many gentle reminders of the smaller things we’ve set way in the back of our memory banks. A Tongue in the Sink succeeds as a great read and a darned good time, but even more importantly, it succeeds at digging up those great memories of our own childhood experiences that we rarely have the time or the inclination to think about, much to our disadvantage. As Dennis Fried points out in this whimsical and thoughtful ode to youthful wonder, you only go around once, then it all changes.
Hang on to those memories, because sometimes things don’t always change for the better. Gosh, I miss those noisy air raid sirens…