In Robert Lowell’s Memories of West Street and Lepke, and Skunk Hour, there are several similarities pertaining to different outlooks on the time’s society. In these two poems there was a lot going on that was different than what had been normal in previous time periods such as: homosexuals, drug use, availability of automobiles, and many other different ideas of the time.
In “Memories of West Street and Lepke” the author suggests new ideas of the time having to do with race and drug use. “sat waiting sentence in the bull pen beside a negro boy with curlicues of marijuana in his hair.” (line 17) Lowell is showing the reader how in the present time you could be sitting next to an African American person or someone with drugs, and it would be perceived as normal for the time. In other time periods these kinds of things were looked down upon or at least be seen as abnormal. In Lowell’s other poem, “Skunk Hour” the author discusses open homosexuality and how it was newly existent at this time period as well. “And now our fairy decorator brightens his shop for fall, his fishnet's filled with orange cork, orange, his cobbler's bench and awl,
there is no money in his work, he'd rather marry.” (line 19) The “fairy decorator” is a homosexual shop owner who purchased parts of the millionaires boat to decorate his shop. This idea of homosexuality, racial equality, and drug use is new to the time. Before this time period blacks and homosexuals wouldn’t have been able to open up stores or sit next to white people. These kinds of new ideas are what the American 1950’s was all about. It brought about the kind of change that took what was normal and added completely new ideals.
While automobiles had been around long before the 1950’s, the availability of them to the average person wasn’t especially high until this time. “One dark night,
my Tudor Ford climbed the hill's skull, I watched for...