Growing Up In The 1950s

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Many members of the Silver Connections group were born or grew up in the 1950s and if they were born in 1946 or after, are part of  the ‘Baby Boom’ generation.

Almost exactly nine months after World War II ended, “the cry of the baby was heard across the land,” as historian Landon Jones later described the trend.  Many of the soldiers that came home from WWII settled down and had families. After the depression and years of war, life seemed peaceful and secure. More babies were born in 1946 than ever before: 3.4 million, 20 percent more than in 1945. This was the beginning of the so-called ‘baby boom.’ In 1947, another 3.8 million babies were born; 3.9 million were born in 1952.

The United States in the 1950s was also the world’s strongest military power. The GI Bill enabled many men to obtain a college education. The US economy was booming, and the fruits of this prosperity–new cars, suburban houses and other consumer goods–were available to more people than ever before.

 

If you were raised in the 1950’s, these may apply to you:

Home was a safe haven—no need for a security system. Many families never locked their doors.

You could walk or ride your bike alone to school, and your mom would be at home when you got there after school.

Homework aside, you could play until just before 6, when the family would sit down together for a planned supper.

You knew your parents loved you, even though at times it might have felt (literally) like a tough love—ever get spanked with a wooden spoon? Your parents were consistent, always wanting something better for you than what they had for themselves growing up.

There was no Nintendo, PlayStation, x-boxes, video games or iPods in the 1950’s. No cell phones, computers or TV’s in bedrooms. No idea what the internet, chat rooms or Facebook would be!

You had friends your own age, who most likely lived in your neighborhood.  You knew their families and they knew yours.

You had record players for your 45 RPMs.

There were trees to climb and fall out of, without suing anyone when you did.

You may have had packets of baseball cards, with a slab of gum the same size. How about hula hoops, the Mickey Mouse Club and Howdy Doody Time on TV or your lunchbox with milk in a carton.

You may have drunk out of a garden hose and no one thought it was dirty.

You may have had a one-foot deep plastic swimming pool that took forever o fill.

Your telephone number may have had a lettered prefix you had to memorize, like Sunset 2- 4848.

You used big cardboard boxes to build forts in the back yard in a tree.

Do you remember fireflies, milk in glass bottles delivered to your house each day, board games like Candyland and Monopoly, chalk for the sidewalk and a game of hopscotch or jacks?

Bazooka bubble gum with a comic inside and your own wrist watch, with maybe Davy Crockett, Mickey or Minnie Mouse on the dial?

How about family vacations and road trips each summer, waiting an hour after eating before you could go swimming, playing outside after supper each night in summer until your Mom called you in?

Did you always run so hard you were out of breath or laugh so hard that your sides hurt?

How about S&H green stamps from the grocery store and gas stations, licking the backs and pasting them in a book?

Watching a drive-in movie on a Friday night, 15 cent burgers from McDonald’s or roller skates.

 

Beginning in 1935, Polling Company AIPO spent decades ringing strangers up and asking them how happy they were—a move that actually yielded usable data. The fifties saw a surge of people claiming they were very happy, peaking between 1955 and 1960 at around forty percent. That’s the highest it’s ever been.  This isn’t just ‘happy’ but ‘very happy’. A different study measuring average happiness across the decades also placed the fifties as peak smiling time.

For all these positive attributes about this decade, and there were many, what were the negatives?  Racial discrimination and segregation existed. Women were expected to stay at home, be a wife and raise the children. There were puritanical attitudes toward sex. Families were still hurting from the loss of brothers, fathers and sons from the war. There was the McCarthy era, where thousands of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers.

If you were born and/or raised in the 1950’s – was it a happier, simpler decade?

Was being a child in the 1950’s ideal?

If the consensus of the 1950’s being a stable, harmonious decade is true for many, it appeared to be one that did not last long.  It seemed to crumble for good during the tumultuous 1960’s and the “me” decade of the 1970’s.

 

A look at a family dinner in 1950-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8kJzBJrOkU

 

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults. 

 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

 

 

Blog Contributors:  Baby Boomers  R We, History Channel and Listverse