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Fifties Dancers


By the time the Korean War ended, in 1953, fifty thousand Americans had returned home in coffins. With the end of the War came President Eisenhower's promise of a bright future for the United States. It was the beginning of an economic boom unlike any in the history of the Country. For the first time since the Great Depression of 1929 America was not in crisis.

During the latter part of 1953 mass consumerism was on the rise and money was in the bank. Americans moved up to the "middle class" at the rate of one million a year and real wages were rising at an unprecedented 4.5% yearly.

It was a time of conformity when men, dressed in gray flannel suits and white shirts, went to their white-collar jobs and women kept the home fires burning in their pastel, "cookie cutter" houses of America's new suburbia. Life centered around the stability of home and family and 97% of marriageable men and women were married, it was a couples society and they were all having children, the baby boom was in full swing..

Americans began their love affair with TV during the early part of the decade and by the mid 50s 3/4 of them owned a telvision set and spent 1/3 of their waking hours watching I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Jack Benny, Queen for A Day, What's My Line, Ed Sullivan and American Bandstand. Consumerism flourished as television ads convinced viewers of the need to keep up with the "Jones'" by owning the latest gadgets and goods.

For Black citizens, in the midst of this new American prosperity, life remained unchanged but change was in the air. The 1954 United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. the Board of Education was among the most significant turning points in the development of our country. It dismantled the legal basis for racial segregation in schools and other public facilities by declaring that the discriminatory nature of racial segregation ... "violates the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees all citizens equal protection of the laws,".

The southern states resisted integration. On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks, weary from an exhausting day of work as a seamstress, boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She sat in the black section at the back of the bus but when the white seats had filled she was told to give up her seat to a white man. Rosa Parks refused and in so doing became the first prominent figure of what became the Movement.

The twenty-six year old minister, Martin Luther King, Jr. led the black citizens in a non-violent boycott of the Montgomery buses. During the boycott white extremists bombed Kings home. The boycott continued for 381 days until, in 1956, the Federal Supreme ruled to desegregate the buses.

Dream of a King
Dream of a King
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In 1957 President Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne to accompany the Arkansas Nine to classes at Central High in Little Rock. Three weeks earlier the black students were prevented by white students, teachers and parents from entering the school in spite of the Brown v. The Board of Education ruling.

King I 
Have a Dream
King I Have a Dream
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There was a change happening in music. A sound that had its roots in black music and was referred to as "race music" was becoming popular with white teens. Early in 1951 disc jockey, Alan Freed, realized that white teenagers with money to spend were buying records of what had been considered exclusively Negro music a year earlier. By the summer of that same year the "Moondog Show" premiered from Cleavland. Disc jockey, Alan Freed, was "The Moondog" and played this new music with a "beat". His shows were a phenomenal hit and Alan Freed is credited for naming the new music, "Rock 'n Roll"

Sam Phillips, a Memphis recording man and enthusiast of black music immediately recognized a special quality in Elvis Presley, who had been influenced by Southern black gospel and blues. On July 5, 1954 at Sun Records Elvis recorded "I'm All Right, Mama" with "Blue Moon of Kentucky" on the flip side. Soon after, he was named "Most Up and Coming Hillbilly Artist of The Year".

By February of 1955 Bill Haley's version of "Shake Rattle and Roll" had sold 1 million copies, Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" was on the charts and then came Little Richard with, "Tutti Frutti". Rock'n Roll was born, and here to stay. Even as parents disapproved of it as "devil music" the kids couldn't get enough.

The automobile became an American icon during the prosperity of the 50s. The Ford Thunderbird, Chevrolet sedans and Chrysler station-wagons became symbols of the new affluent American society. The nation was suddenly mobile and "Drive-in" became a part of the language and culture. Public Works began the construction of an extensive highway system like no other time in history and road trips in big-finned cars became a national past-time.

The Cold War between the world's Super Powers, America and Russia, cast a shadow of fear over the Frivolous Fifties. The Atomic and Hydrogen bombs were created and the military performed 200 above-ground nuclear tests between 1954 and 1958. There was failure after failure in the rocket launching competition between the two countries until Russia realized success with it's Sputnik on October 4, 1957. Americans found themselves watching the skies and learning to "duck and cover".

By the latter part of the decade Marilyn Monroe had appeared as the first centerfold in Hugh Hefner's Playboy magazine and Ed Sullivan had backed down by inviting Elvis to perform, two months after calling him vulgar and exclaiming that he would never appear on his television show. The youth had their own music and the Beats, with their hip new language, became the forefathers of the 60s counter-culture.

Profound economic, political, racial and social changes had taken place in a short time. Happy Days? Yes, but complex and evolving too.



Full story of the 1950s, a decade newly wired for TV & ripe for its own fall from innocence


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Marilyn Monroe
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The Fabulous Fifties

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 wurlitzer elvis presley limited edition jukebox

Play Your Fifties Music Collection On This

Wurlitzer Elvis Presley Limited Edition Jukebox


In its early years, rock and roll music was believed to make teenagers crazy, drug-deranged, and/or promiscuous. The Los Angeles Mirror printed a story in 1959 that announced that rock music "tightens the cow's glandular system and deters milking," with a strange headline that claimed "Rock 'n' Roll Makes Cows Tighten Up."


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 Candy you ate as a kidŽ... Wax Lips, Candy Cigarettes, Sugar Daddies, Candy Buttons on paper tape, Kits, Wax Syrup Bottles, Now and Laters, BB Bats and many more fresh candies from the 50s, 60s and 70s... still available after all these years!

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