The children in these photos are the result of a frantic rush to create The American Dream in a hurry. Chances are they had never known hunger or deprivation, nor experienced the fear their parents and grandparents lived through in the Great Depression and WWII. These children are as shiny as newly-minted pennies.

After the war America was weary of uniforms and so these children sport a range of colours, patterns and styles that are extraordinary when compared to previous decades. Featured are the latest, brightest patterns in Western, Tiki, Beatnik and Atomic Age themes.

There were two different kinds of athletic shoes: PF Flyers and Converse. Kids played hard, were bumped and bruised and no one got sued. Mothers mended and patched clothes and bought jeans in outrageous lengths and told their sons not to worry, they'd grow into them. If they didn't wear them out first.

When these kids misbehaved they were not medicated or tasered, they were spanked. After school, kids were sent out to mix it up with the rest of the neighbourhood and weren't welcome back until suppertime. Afterwards was homework. Then television. Then bedtime.

In all, the 50's were an astonishing moment in an astonishing age of a remarkable, young and vibrant country.

Sideburns became the crucial detail to go along with the leather jackets and the DA haircut.

Panty Raids
Legend states the tradition started on the night of March 21st 1952, at the university of Michigan. Approximately 600 male students stormed a women's dormitory and confiscated lingerie. Word got out and soon college guys across the country started participating in the escapades.

DA Haircut
In the 1950's the Duck's Ass -- DA for short -- was the style of choice for the cool guys. Formed by combing the hair back on the sides of the head and holding it there with a dab of brylcreem -- hence the term greaser -- It was made popular by many rock and roll idols.

The Boomerang
In the late 1950's, an American atomic weapons researcher named Lorin Hawkes began designing boomerangs, eventually joining forces with Wham-O. Soon boomerangs were being thrown all over the world.

3D Movies
Movie studio executives worried that the new medium, television, would steal away their audiences. Arch Oboler's Bwana Devil started the 3-D craze of the 1950's. It premiered on Nov. 26, 1952 and starred Robert Stack, Barbara Britton and Nigel Bruce. People were issued glasses, which facilitated the 3-D effect. Previously, 3-D used the anaglyphic process and those glasses were the red and green ones. This distorted the whole film by discoloration. Enter Polaroid and a newer system called Natural Vision. Polaroid glasses were nearly clear and so did not detract from the viewing experience.

BANNED! The ABC network bans the Rosemary Clooney hit "Mambo Italiano," saying it did not meet the network's "standards for good taste." 1955

Hula Hoop
One of the biggest fads of all time is the hula-hoop, invented in 1957. The name came from the Hawaiian dance its users appeared to imitate. The invention was licensed to Wham-O, who sold 25 million hula-hoops in two months. Almost 100 million international orders followed. Aat the peak of popularity 20,000 hoops a day were manufactured.
Japan banned the hoops thinking they might promote improprieties while the Soviet Union said the hula-hoop was an example of the "emptiness of American culture."

Telephone Booth Stuffing
One of the most well known fads of all time, it was started by several college students who would squeeze as many people as possible into a telephone booth. The fad died out in 1959 but was reincarnated in the form of Volkswagen stuffing a few years later.

Ant Farm
Real ants were put in a glass framed case with soil and paths for the ants to follow.

Frisbee
Never goes out of style.

In 1950 a new house cost $8,450.00 and by 1959 was $12,400.00

In 1950 the average income per year was $3,210.00 and by 1959 was $5,010.00

In 1950 a gallon of gas was 18 cents and by 1959 was 25 cents

In 1950 the average cost of a new car was $1,510.00 and by 1959 was $2,200.00

Chrysler New Yorker $4347

Chevrolet Corvette $3631 in 1958

Mens All Wool Suits $28.90

Square dance Cotton Check Dress $3.29

Electric Portable Singer Sewing Machine $19.90

Ronson Electric Shaver $28.50

Rib Roast 29 cents per pound

Ritz Crackers 32 cents

Rollaway Beds $14.95

One Carat Diamond ring $399.00

Mechanical Adding Machine $3.98

Breeder Reactor ----- 1951 USA Converted Uranium to Plutonium

Computer Modem ----- 1958 USA

Credit Card ----- 1950 USA by Ralph Schneider

Hydrogen Bomb ----- 1952 USA by Edward Teller's team

Microchip ----- 1958 USA by Jack Kilby

Robot ----- 1954 USA by George C Devol Jr

Solar Cell ----- 1954 USA Or Photovoltaic cells

Transistor Radio ----- 1953 USA Texas Instruments

Video Recorder ----- 1956 USA

Video Tape ----- 1956 USA

The most far reaching change in communications worldwide was the advancement in the area of television broadcasting.

During the 1950's, television became the dominant mass media as people brought television into their homes in greater numbers of hours per week than ever before. In the early fifties, young people watched TV more hours than they went to school, a trend which has not changed greatly since that time.

What was portrayed on television became accepted as normal. The ideal family, the ideal schools and neighborhoods, the world, were all seen in a way which had only partial basis in reality. People began to accept what was heard and seen on television because they were "eye witnesses" to events as never before via live broadcasts.

Banned!
Network officials ban the novelty hit Transfusion by Dot and Diamond from ABC, CBS, and NBC radios in June. According to one NBC executive, "There is nothing funny about a blood transfusion."
1957

Fearing the effects of the "hedonistic, tribal rhythms" of rock and roll music, in March Chicago's Cardinal Stritch bans popular music from all Catholic-run schools.
1959

The Mutual Broadcasting System drops all rock and roll records from its network music programs, calling it "distorted, monotonous, noisy music."
1959

 

BANNED! Dottie O'Brien's Four or Five Times and Dean Martin's Wham Bam, Thank You Ma'am over fears they are suggestive.
1952

Popularity in sports was not based on social status but on the ability of the individual, so all-American sports like baseball, football and basketball gave opportunities for the rise of players like Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Henry (Hank) Aaron, Juan Marichal, Jim Brown, and Frank Gifford. Great women athletes played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

The Most Popular Movie Stars of the 50's

Gary Cooper

Bing Crosby

Bob Hope

John Wayne

James Stewart

Frank Sinatra

Marilyn Monroe

William Holden

BANNED! Six counties in South Carolina pass legislation outlawing jukebox operation
anytime when within hearing distance of a church.
1954

Coonskin Caps
Hats made from racoon skin and fur. They became an iconic image of such 50's frontiersman as Davey Crockett and Daniel Boone.

Pez
A popular candy created decades before, but in the 50's a new pocket-size dispenser was developed which became very popular. The dispenser is now trademarked and is what Pez is known for.

BANNED! The Weavers, due to their leftist political beliefs and associations of several members.
1953

The 50's were the time when the shape of the political landscape in the world could be clearly defined between the Soviet dominated East and the capitalist West.

The cold war became a grim reality because both sides had the power and technology for a Nuclear holocaust, but equally both knew any war could not truly be won.

Following the end of the second world war the economies of the western world boomed which led to the start of a consumer-led economy that seemed to have no bounds .

With the forming of the European Economic Community, West Germany enjoyed a growth which exceeded any expectations at the end of the war.

Former radio deejay Pat Boone begins a career by releasing "sanitized" versions of black R&B hits. Boone's versions of these songs often contain edited lyrics: such as substituting "drinkin' Coca Cola" for "drinkin' wine" in T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday" and "Pretty little Susie is the girl for me" instead of "Boys, don't you know what she do to me" in Little Richard's Tutti Fruitti.

 

Car Hops
Burger joints and diners. Waitresses would roller-skate to your car and take your order.

Bubble Gum Cigars
Gum shaped to look like cigars - some even had a pink tip, to look like they were lit.

Blackjack Chewing Gum
Black licorice-flavored gum.

Saddle Shoes
Nothing characterizes the Fifties quite as well as the saddle shoe. Everyone had them. Everyone wore them.

Poodle Skirts
This is the look most associated with the Fifties.

Other different and derivative styles popular in the 50s included two piece bathing suits; circle-skirts, bobby sox and ponytails; sack dresses; women wore pants outside the home, hooded dresses; short shorts; poodle hair styles for women; pink clothing for men and women; duck tail and apache hairstyles for men.

Producers of the Ed Sullivan Show instruct cameramen to show Elvis Presley only from the waist up on his third and final appearance on the program on January 7th.

 

"I wouldn't have Presley on my show at any time"

-- Ed Sullivan, early 1956

"And now, here is Elvis Presley!"

-- Ed Sullivan, October 28, 1956

Fifties clothing was conservative for adults. Men wore gray flannel suits and women wore dresses with pinched in waists and high heels.

French fashion designers Dior, Chanel and Givenchy were popular and copied in America.

Families worked together, played together and vacationed together at family-themed entertainment areas like national parks and the new Disneyland.

1950 - President Harry Truman ( 'til 1952) approves production of the hydrogen bomb and Sends air force and navy to Korea in June.

1951 - Transcontinental television begins with a speech by Pres. Truman.

Dwight D. Eisenhower is president from 1953 until 1961
1952 - The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 is signed, removing racial and ethnic barriers to becoming a U.S. citizen.

1953 - Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are electrocuted for their part in W.W.II espionage.

1953 - Fighting ends in Korea.1954 - U. S. Senator Joseph McCarthy begins televised hearings into alleged Communists in the army.

1954 - Racial segregation is ruled unconstitutional in public schools by the U.S. Supreme Court.

1955 - Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

Teenagers were defined as a separate generation and were represented by James Dean who wore blue jeans in Rebel Without a Cause and created a fashion and attitude sensation.

People kept an eye out for flying saucers and watched (and danced) to Dick Clark's American Bandstand.

A crisis in education was uncovered by critics like Rudolph Flesch in his book Why Johnny Can't Read.

The author claimed that the American educational system was not doing its job.

Other voices in the movement to revamp American schools were Arthur Bestor's Educational Wastelands, Albert Lynd's Quackery in the Public Schools, Robert Hutchins' The Conflict in Education, and Admiral Hyman Rickover's Education and Freedom.

Gender roles were strongly maintained: girls played with Barbie dolls and Dale Evans gear, boys with Roy Rogers and Davy Crockett paraphernalia.

Drive-in movies became popular for families and teens. Cars were seen as an indicator of prosperity and cool-ness. Highways were built to take people quickly from one place to another, by-passing small towns and helping to create central marketing areas and shopping malls.

1955 - The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merge making the new AFL-CIO an organization with 15 million members.

1955 - Dr. Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio

1956 - The Federal Highway Act is signed, marking the beginning of work on the interstate highway system.

1958 - Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite, successfully orbits the earth.

December 10, 1958 - The first domestic jet-airline passenger service is begun by National Airlines between New York City and Miami.

1959 - Alaska and Hawaii become the forty-ninth and fiftieth states.

One of the things which most characterizes the 1950's was the strong element of conservatism and anti-communist feeling which ran throughout much of society.

One of the best indicators of the conservative frame of mind was the addition of the phrase "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Religion was seen as an indicator of anti-communism.

1950

Population: 151,684,000

Unemployed: 3,288,000

Life expectancy: Women 71.1, men 65.6

Car Sales: 6,665,800

Average Salary: $2,992

Labor Force male/female: 5/2

Cost of a loaf of bread: $0.14

In 1950, a pair would cost you three bucks. Two eighty-nine on sale.