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No matter where Americans grew up in the 1950s, they watched the same TV shows, read the same magazines, and cheered together for their sports teams. Common experiences united them.
Classic cars, first-class trains, and unique fashions created a special decade—a middle class high.
The fifties ushered in a decade of exuberance and optimism. Two thirds of the population claimed membership in the middle class. Life in the vibrant cities, the new suburbs, and the traditional small towns was promising.
Ten iconic elements of the fifties are examined in the book
1950s American Style at a significant year in the decade.
Each unique facet of the fifties is explored at a particular point in time.
In 1950, Americans began buying merchandise that was not available during the war. A baby boom was underway and growth was everywhere. Shopping in downtown department stores was an event, store ads filled the newspapers, and Christmas display windows attracted excited crowds. It was 1950, and it was The Best Year for Legendary Department Stores.
In 1951, there was an explosion of entertainment choices. Television began to compete with radio while Americans headed out in droves to see movies. Demand was so great that Hollywood released a new film every day! It was 1951 and it was A Stellar Year for Hollywood Films.
In 1952, Americans were on the move, relocating for new jobs, visiting families, taking business trips, and vacationing all across the country. Dozens of railroads vied to create the most magnificent streamliners for travelers. It was 1952 and A Last Hurrah for Passenger Trains and Grand Stations.
In 1953, families were creating a new lifestyle in the home—playing with the kids, grilling on an outdoor barbeque, sipping drinks on the patio, and buying their first TV set. There were only four TV networks, but the variety of programming was remarkable. It was 1953 and it was The Golden Age of Television.
In 1954, the number of TV sets mushroomed and television entertainment was free. Attendance at the huge, ornate downtown movie palaces began to slip, but major films still opened downtown first and crowds could still be attracted to large screen premiers at these legendary movie houses. It was1954 and A Final Curtain Call for Magnificent Movie Theaters.
In 1956, a rebellious mood was gripping the country; books and movies were investigating gritty new themes. In music it was a transition from EASY-POP to Rock ‘n’ Roll—Eddie Fisher to Elvis Presley—and it changed everything. It was 1956 and it certainly was ARevolutionary Year for Popular Songs and Singers.
In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the space race was on, and international competition was high. But what about the average American family? What were they eating, drinking, and wearing? What did they do for fun and what did they find funny? What trendy fads struck their fancy? It was1957 and it was An EclecticYear for Fun & Funny, Fads & Fashion, Food & Fizz.
In 1958, Americans were moving west. California was booming and major league baseball teams moved to the west coast. It was the year the ‘best football game ever’ was played and Ben Hogan made golf a national pastime. It was1958 and it was A PivotalYear for Professional andCollege Sports.
In 1959, Castro’s Cuban revolutionaries aligned with Soviet Russia and the Dalai Lama fled Tibet. Print media from the 1950s provided invaluable news, views, and insights while authors inquired into American society’s psyche. It was 1959 and ATransitional Year for Books, Magazines, andNewspapers.