In Maple and Vine, Katha and Ryu leave the modern world to live in a recreated 1955 society. Group Sales Representative Edward (Eddy) Budworth remembers his childhood in 1950s Santa Cruz as a more peaceful, safe, and polite era—but one in which not every person was encouraged toward self-actualization as we know it today.
1955: Five-year-old Eddy wearing the white suit his mother made for him. Photo courtesy Edward Budworth.
When Maple and Vine first came up as a possible production for our 2011–12 season, I was intrigued by the concept of going back to the '50 s and reliving my childhood. I was born in 1950 in Santa Cruz, at the time a small friendly town on the California coast.
My parents bought the house I grew up in for $7,000 with the help of the G.I. Bill. My father was a veteran of World War II, as were most of my parents' friends. Times were good for them, and my father started the furniture business that he ran until his retirement in 1978. My mother was, as the time almost dictated, a housewife, staying at home and raising me and my older sister Lyn.
There was a general sense of security in our lives. We never locked a door (house or car), and we were never told "Don't speak to strangers" because it seemed that everyone knew everyone. Halloweens were free-for-alls with no rules or supervision. We could walk to school without fear of being harmed.
In our little town there were no real class distinctions, but we only called a very close friend of the family by their first name. Mr., Mrs., or Miss were mandatory salutations for all others. I can't imagine hearing the language I hear on Muni nowadays in public in the '50s.
Would I want to go back and live that life again? Not completely. I am fortunate to have experienced that time and can draw on the many good things about the era. I believe there was more respect and consideration of others then. But I know that my mother, a woman of superior intelligence, was hindered by the customs of the day in achieving her true potential. I hope she can take heart in knowing she did the ultimate '50s thing: kept a great house, raised two children who loved her very much, and made a killer grasshopper chiffon pie.
1953: Three-year-old Eddy (left) with his family (from left), Bud, Alice, and Lyn. Photo courtesy Edward Budworth.
1959: Nine-year-old Eddy (in stripes) is chosen to demonstrate street-crossing safety by a police officer. Photo courtesy Edward Budworth.