The fifties actually spanned the period from mid to late 40s (especially
when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier) to the early 60s. From
that point on, all we wanted was to go faster. We had to have those
big, powerful, high-octane engines in our sleek, tailfinned cars (1948
Cadillac introduced in 1947 was the first with tailfins). Then we wanted
those "fat" tubeless tires that were first put on the market in 1947
by B.F. Goodrich.
The electric guitar was developed by Les Paul in the late 40s.
This electric guitar gave birth to "rock and roll" Some music buffs claim Jackie Brentson's "Rocket 88" featuring Ike Turner on the keyboards was the first rock and roll record. Others think Shake, Rattle, and Roll by Bill
Haley and the Comets in 1954 was the first. Still others claim Chuck
Berry was the first and Little Richard has been known to say "I invented
rock and roll". But Elvis Presley who came onto the scene in 1956
with the #1 hit, Heartbreak Hotel is given credit for the popularization
of rock and roll.
On November 22, 1963 we lost our innocence with the assassination
of President John F. Kennedy. Most people can remember the exact time and
place they were when it occurred. Until that time, our greatest fear
was the threat of nuclear war in which we would have all died together........remember those bomb shelters and drills. From that point on, our music, cars, cultures/lifestyles,etc. changed.
In 1963, American Bandstand ended its daily show and began
a weekly format. Dinah Washington and Patsy Cline died and the Beatles
took over the music scene. Later, psychedelic "pierced" our eardrums,
and later disco "numbed" them.
After 1963, the cars began to change especially when Ralph
Nader wrote Unsafe At Any Speed and pushed for regulations to make
automobiles ugly and safe. Later, the oil crisis came and made it
necessary for cars to be smaller and more fuel effecient. Chrome
trim was abandoned to save weight and, therefore, improve fuel economy.
The culture changed also. There was anger in the air----more
assassinations, race riots, an unpopular war, an unruly and boisterous
youth subculture who trusted no one over 30. Drugs, sex, and rock
and roll became the theme of the sixties.
Let's hope that all of us gained some wisdom from the experiences
of this extraordinary decade.
Jan. 20, 1945--
Franklin Roosevelt is sworn in as President for a 4th term and Harry Truman
April, 1945 -- President Roosevelt dies after his trip to Europe to meet with world leaders.
Apr. 12, 1945 -- Harry Truman is sworn in as the 33rd President of the United States.
June 26, 1945 -- The United Nations is established.
Jul. 12, 1945 -- American forces take Okinawa.
July 16, 1945 -- In the desert at Alamogordo, NM, scientists detonated world's first Atomic bomb.
Aug. 6, 1945 -- The United States drops the 1st atomic bomb “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, Japan.
Aug. 9, 1945 -- The United States drops the 2nd atomic bomb “Fat Man” on Nagasaki, Japan.
Sept. 2, 1945 -- Japanese leaders accept the American terms of surrender.
1945 -- Japanese Americans are finally released from internment camps.
1945 -- Fifty new nations adopt the United Nations charter in San Francisco.
Jul. 4, 1946 -- The Phillipines, a United States protectorate, gains its independence.
Oct. 1, 1946 -- Nazi war criminals receive sentencing at the Nuremberg trials.
Oct. 17, 1946 -- Winston Churchill proclaims "an iron curtain has has swept across the continent(Europe), beginning the Cold War.
Mar. 24, 1947 -- The 22nd Amendment (limiting presidential terms) is passed by Congress.
Congress passes Taft-Hartley Act to curb the power of unions.
Jackie Robinson becomes the first African American to play baseball for the Major Leagues.
Oct. 14, 1947 -- Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier in an experimental rocket.
B.F. Goodrich introduces tubeless tires and 1st tailfins appear on a 1948 Cadillac introduced in 1947.
Levittown Homes, a prototype for mass-produced, affordable, look-alike housing is introduced. This led to the migration of the middle class families to the suburbs. This in turn, created the need for high-speed roads.
Reddi-Whip, the first convenience food, is introduced.
On T.V., first appearances of Kukla, Fran, & Ollie (with then un-known announcer, Hugh Downs) and Howdy Doody.
Scientists invent the transistor, a pivotal part in sizing down computers and other technoligical devices.
The 1st jet lands on an aircraft carrier.
Adidas starts manufacturing shoes.
President Truman bans racial segregation in the armed forces.
New York is the last city to raise the subway fare from a nickel to a dime.
Campbell's V-8 Juice is introduced and the first McDonalds opens. With the opening of McDonalds, drive-ins explode on the scene.
The first Road & Track magazine is published.
Lionel introduces the Santa Fe Diesel Toy Train set.
Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town, Allen Funt's Candid Camera,and Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scout debut on T.V.
We go to the theaters to watch Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein or Easter Parade with star Judy Garland.
The Kinsey Report on human sexual behavior is published.
Jan. 20, 1949 -- Harry Truman is sworn in as President for a 2nd term.
Jan. 20, 1949 -- Alben Barkley is sworn in as the 35th Vice President of the United States.
Apr. 4, 1949 -- North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is established by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United States.
Pre-packaged cake mixes and Oreo cookies are introduced.
Hot Rod Magazine is launched with Rod & Custom shortly thereafter. Customizers like George Burris and hot rod builders like Ed "Big Daddy" Roth become famous as well as drag racers like Don Garlets and Art Arfons.
Silly Putty and Lego Building blocks are introduced.
Hopalong Cassidy, Lone Ranger, I Remember Mama premier on TV.
Brylcream ads remind the men "a little dab'll do you".
Disney releases Adventures of Ichabod and a book, 1984 by George Orwell, is published.
Jan. 4, 1951 -- North Korean/Chinese forces recapture Seoul.
Feb. 26, 1951 -- The U.S. presidency is restricted to eight years when the 22nd Amendment is added to the Constitution.
Mar. 29, 1951 -- Julius Rosenberg and his wife Ethel were found guilty of conspiracy to commit wartime espionage. They were thought to have given atomic secrets to the Soviets.
The color television is introduced in the U.S.
J.D. Salinger publishes his classic novel, The Catcher in the Rye.
The United States occupation of Japan and its islands ends.
Sep. 8, 1951 -- Japanese Peace Treaty signed in San Francisco by Japan, the U.S., and 47 other nations.
Breakfast cereal "Sugar Pops" and Tupperware debuts.
Roy Rogers, I Love Lucy, and Mr. Wizard premieres on T.V.
FBI issues its first "Ten Most Wanted Criminals".
African Queen, Alice in Wonderland, Streetcar Named Desire are playing at the theaters.
Nov.1, 1952 -- The United States detonates the first thermo-nuclear device on the Pacific island of Eniwetok.
Revell begins producing plastic kits of model aircraft.
"Sugar Smacks" and "Frosted Flakes" are introduced.
Ozzie and Harriet premiere on T.V.
Singin' In The Rain, The Quiet Man, High Noon are playing at the theaters.
Jan. 20, 1953 -- Dwight Eisenhower is sworn in as the 34th President of the United States and Richard Nixon as the 36th Vice President.
An American company develops the first microwave oven.
Over half of all families in the U.S. own televisions.
The Rosenbergs are executed for traitorous espionage.
The Life of Riley and The Danny Thomas Show makes it debut on T.V.
The new Chevrolet Corvette becomes the first car produced to have an all fiber glass body.
Jacqueline Bouvier marries John F Kennedy.
First Playboy magazine is published featuring nudes of Marilyn Monroe in its first issue.
TV Guide is born
3-D thriller movie It Came From Outer Space is playing at the theaters.
Dow Chemical creates Saran Wrap
White Rose Redi-tea is the world's first instant iced tea.
The French Sardine Co. becomes Star-Kist Foods. Charlie the Tuna will appear in 1961.
New York adopts three color traffic lights.
The Nationally televised McCarthy hearings lead to Senator Joseph McCarthy's downfall.
May 17, 1954 -- Segregation by race in schools is declared unanimously unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Congress adds the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance and requires "In God We Trust" to appear on all American currency the next year.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower forms a plan to protect the Middle East from the communist threat.
The World Series is broadcast in color for the first time. NY Giants defeat Cleveland (4-0)
Baseball legend Hank Aaron begins his career by joining the Milwaukee Braves.
Little Matchbox cars introduced.
M&M Peanuts and Swanson T.V. Dinners are introduced.
Father Knows Best, Mr. Wizard, Lassie, and the Miss America Pageant is televised for the first time.
Ellis Island, the immigration station in NY Harbor, is closed. Between 1892 and 1954, 12 million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island.
Con-Tact paper debuts. It's 54 cents per yard.
Polypropylene is invented.
Hi & Lois is published as a comic strip. Bazooka Joe comics were first introduced.
Marilyn Monroe marries Joe DiMaggio.
General Electric introduces colored kitchen appliances
Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson Motor Car Co. merge to form the American Motors Co.(AMC).
Caine Mutiny, On the Waterfront, and Hitchcock's Rear Window are playing at the theaters.
Ray Kroc opens the first McDonald's.
The two largest labor unions, the AFL and CIO merge as one union.
Rosa Parks refuses to give her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
Tony the Tiger is introduced to promote cereals.
Play-Doh is created and Davy Crockett is the "fad".
The 1955 Thunderbird comes to Ford showrooms. At just under $3000 without options, the Corvette now has competition. And a classic car is born.
Albert Einstein, the worlds greatest genius, dies at age 76.
Johnson & Johnson invents the first “baby shampoo”.
New at the market - Pillsbury Chocolate Angel Food Cake Mix- "you loved it in white... now Pillsbury has it in chocolate too!"
Barbra Striesand's 1st recording "You'll Never Know" at age 13
Gunsmoke, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Millionaire, Mickey Mouse Club, The Lawrence Welk Show and The $64,000 Question make their T.V. debut.
Jonas Salk develops the polio vaccine. Polio shots are given in schools for the first time.
The first home microwave ovens are manufactured by Tappan. They cost $1300.
“Don’t Walk” signs are introduced to the streets of New York City.
Alfred Neuman appears on the cover of MAD as a write-in candidate for President with his campaign slogan "What, Me Worry"?
Ann Landers column appears in newspapers.
Instant Oatmeal is invented by the Quaker Oats Company.
Marilyn Monroe displays a lot of leg in The Seven Year Itch.
James Dean is killed while driving his new Porsche Spyder at high speed. His movie Rebel Without a Cause has just been released and he instantly becomes an idol for the teens capturing their feeling at the time.
Average price of the movie ticket....50 cents.
The Montgomery bus boycott begins.
Sep. 25, 1956 -- The first transatlantic telephone cable begins operation.
Air passenger traffic equals railway traffic.
Federal minimum wage rises to $1
Hamilton introduces the first battery-powered electric wristwatch.
First Midas Muffler Shop opens.
Comet Cleanser and Pampers debut.
Steve Allen Show and Playhouse 90 debut on T.V.
Elvis Presley bursts on the scene with Heartbreak Hotel. For 25 of 37 weeks, Elvis holds the top of the charts with 7 single, million seller hits. RCA can't keep up. Elvis Presley makes his television debut on CBS Dorsey Brothers' Stage Show.
Actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier III of Monaco in a highly publicized Monte Carlo wedding on April 19
Certs, the first candy breath mint, is introduced.
A dollar buys only as much food in 1956 as 41¢ bought in 1939.
The after-tax income of the average American is $1700, up $63 from 1955. The average weekly take-home for a worker with three dependents is $74.04.
Last Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey Circus under a canvas tent.
The book, Peyton Place is published
Mental patients occupy more hospital beds than all other illnesses combined.
Jan. 21, 1957 -- Dwight Eisenhower is sworn in as President for a 2nd term with Richard Nixon as Vice President.
The first commercial American light water nuclear power plant opens in Shippingport, Pennsylvania.
The Sputnik is launched by the Soviets and is the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth. Four months later, U.S. launches its first. This marks the beginning of the great space race between the Soviet Union and the U.S.
President Eisenhower sends soldiers to integrate a Little Rock, Arkansas high school.
By 1957, Americans are consuming an average of 850 cans of food each year. Consequently, manufacture of Mason jars and canning supplies plummet.
General Foods Corp. introduces TANG breakfast beverage crystals.
Barry Gordy, Jr. invests $700 to found "Motown Records."
Eveready produces "AA" size alkaline batteries for use in "personal transistor radios."
James Hoffa gains control of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Frisbee and the Hula Hoop are introduced.
American Bandstand (which had been a local Philadelphia show since 1952) goes coast to coast.
Perry Mason makes his T.V. debut.
Boeing 707 passenger jet makes its inaugural flight.
House of Tomorrow opens at Disneyland.
Michael Landon starred in the B-movie I Was a Teenage Werewolf.
Elvis appears in his first move Love Me Tender.
The first U.S. satellite to go into orbit, the Explore 1, is launched.
Hula Hoop fad peaks in 1958.
Manufacturing wages continue to rise, averaging $83.56 a week compared to $54.32 in 1949.
American Express Card is issued.
The price of 1st class US postage is raised to 4¢ from 3¢ where it had been for 26 years.
Elvis is drafted into the army.
Sack dresses become the fashion rage for women.
Tropical fish are the most popular pet.
Truman Capote writes Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman film Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Mitzi Gaynor stars in South Pacific.
Jan. 3, 1959 -- Alaska is the 49th state admitted to the Union.
Aug. 21, 1959 -- Hawaii is the 50th state admitted to the Union.
The U.S. severs its diplomatic with Cuba after Fidel Castro rises to power and Cuba becomes communist.
Cadillac tailfins reach their zenith when they are almost as tall as the car itself.
First Barbie doll appears.
Danny's Coffee Shops are renamed Dennys.
Bonanza and Rod Sterling's Twilight Zone debut on T.V.
First integrated circuit is demonstrated.
The Ski-Doo snowmobile is introduced.
Feb. 3, 1959 -- Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper are killed.
Elizabeth Taylor marries Eddie Fisher.
Pillow Talk with Doris Day and Rock Hudson is playing at the theaters.
Ricky Nelson makes his movie debut with John Wayne in Rio Bravo.
Space monkeys Able and Baker boldly go where no monkey (or human) has gone before.
The average American worker earns $91.53 a week.
Vince Lombardi signs on to coach Green Bay Packers, a job he would hold until 1968. Lombardi took the losing Packers to winning back-to-back NFL titles in 1961 and 1962, and Superbowls I and II in 1966 and 1967.
Groucho, Chico & Harpo Marx's final TV appearance together - on G.E. Theater with host Ronald Reagan.
Walt Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" released.
Jun. 16, 1960 -- The 23rd Amendment is passed by Congress.
The first laser device is developed by U.S. scientists.
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is established by student activists.
The Soviet Union destroys an airborne U.S. spy plane.
The Kennedy and Nixon debate appears as the first presidential debate on TV.
Hawaiian Punch introduced.
Teflon coated pots and pans go on sale in December, 1960.
Etch-A-Sketch and Whamo's Slip and Slide debut.
My Three Sons, Flintstones, and Route 66 make their T.V. debut.
U.S. launches Echo 1, the first telecommunications satellite.
Pentel introduces the first felt-tip pen.
FDA approves the first birth control pill.
Pantyhose are introduced.
Family Circus appears as a comic strip.
First Playboy Club opens.
Psycho debuts at the theaters and Bye Bye Birdie opens on Broadway.
Jan. 20, 1961 -- John Kennedy is sworn in as the 35th President of the United States and Lyndon Johnson as 37th Vice President of the U.S.
The 23rd Amendment is added to the Constitution.
Apr. 17, 1961 -- An American backed Cuban invasion force landed at Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs).
A Russian, Yuri Gagarin is the first man in space. This fuels more fire to the race into space between the Soviet Union and America. JFK promises a "New Frontier".
President John F. Kennedy establishes the U.S. Peace Corps.
"Freedom Riders" challenge segregation on interstate buses.
Barbie's friend Ken introduced.
IBM Selectric typewriter appears.....cost $450.00
Coffee-Mate is introduced.
Camelot opens on Broadway.
The Bullwinkle Show debuts on T.V.
U.S. astronaut John Glenn orbits the earth in a spacecraft.
Aug. 27, 1962 -- The 24th Amendment is passed by Congress.
American spy planes spot Soviet missile bases on Cuba.
The Cuban missle crisis occurs. This is the closest the U.S. has ever come to all out Nuclear War. The U.S. blockade on Cuba causes USSR to withdraw its missles from Cuba on Oct. 22, 1962
James Meredith becomes the first African American student to attend the University of Mississippi, a highly segregated southern school.
President Kennedy issues the order that protects federal employees' right to organize and bargain collectively, but not to strike.
Beverly Hillbillies, The Jetsons, and Johnny Carson's Tonight Show make their debut.
A civil rights march on Washington D.C. takes place.
A treaty is signed banning nuclear testing.
Nov. 1, 1963 -- American/Vietnamese forces stage a coup in Vietnam.
Nov. 22, 1963 -- President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald. The details of this assassination are still debated today.
Nov. 22, 1963 -- Lyndon Johnson is sworn in as the 36th President of the United States with Hubert Humphrey as 38th Vice President of the U.S.
Betty Friedan writes The Feminine Mystique. This groundbreaking book helps inspire a new generation of women activists in the 1960's and beyond.
The Beatles gain international fame as a rock band.
Congress ratifies the Civil Rights Act.
Three civil rights activists are killed in Mississippi.
The 24th Amendment is added to the Constitution.
Jul. 2, 1964 -- Segregation is now abolished in the United States.
Aug. 4, 1964 -- Vietnamese forces attack an American Destroyer (USS Maddox).
Aug. 7, 1964 -- The United States begins military presence in Vietnam.
Jan. 20, 1965 -- Lyndon Johnson is sworn in as President for a 2nd term with Hubert Humphrey as Vice President.
Jul. 6, 1965 -- The 25th Amendment is passed by Congress.
Congress establishes Medicaid, Medicare, and passes the Voting Rights Act.
Black leader Malcom X is assassinated in New York.
President Lyndon Johnson quickly increases the number of troops in Vietnam.
Race riots occurs in Watts, Los Angeles.
Cesar Chavez organizes farm workers.
A B-52 bomber from the U.S. crashes near the coast of Spain with four unarmed Hydrogen Bombs as its cargo.
The National Organization for Women is founded. This Organization sparks women's movements for women's rights.
The Black Panther party is founded.
A court ruling establishes that suspects must be read their rights before they are questioned.
Feb. 10, 1967 -- The 25th Amendment is added to the Constitution.
Antiwar protesters march on the Pentagon in protest.
Three Apollo astronauts are killed in a fire on the launch pad.
Martin Luther King leads an anti Vietnam protest in New York.
Mar. 16, 1968 -- American forces take My Lai.
The American Indian Movement (AIM) is founded by activists.
The Kerner Commission publishes its own report on civil disobedience.
Riots break out at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Robert Kennedy and Martin and Martin Luther King Jr. are assassinated.
Jan. 20, 1969 -- Richard Nixon is sworn in as the 37th President of the United States and Spiro Agnew as 39th Vice President.
American astronaught Neil Armstrong is the 1st human to walk on the Moon. This leads to his famous quote “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Feb. 18, 1970 -- A federal jury found "the Chicago 7" antiwar activists innocent of conspiring to incite riots during the Democratic National Convention, but five were convicted of crossing state lines with intent to incite riots.
The Environmental Protection Agency is set up the government.
Apr. 30, 1970 -- U.S. forces invade Cambodia.
Rebellious rock stars Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix die of drug overdoses.
Four Kent State University students were killed in a Vietnam War protest by the National Guard.
Dec. 31, 1970 -- The U.S. starts to withdraw troops from Vietnam.
Jan. 26, 1971 -- At age 36, Charles Manson and 3 of his cult followers were found guilty of first degree murder in the 1969 slaying of actress Sharon Tate and 6 others.
The 26th Amendment lowering the voting age to 18 in all elections was ratified.
President Nixon imposes a freeze on prices and wages.
The value of the U.S. dollar goes down.
A break-in at the Democratic headquarters sets off the Watergate Scandal.
The Equal Rights Amendment is passed by Congress, touching off an unsuccessful ratification battle across the United States.
Dec. 18, 1972 -- American forces begin bombing Hanoi and Haiphong.
Dec. 28, 1972 -- American forces cease bombing Hanoi and Haiphong.
The Senate begins to investigate the Watergate affair.
Jan. 20, 1973 -- Richard Nixon is sworn in as President for a 2nd term and Spiro Agnew as Vice President of the United States.
Jan. 27, 1973 -- The United States and Vietnam sign a peace treaty, ending the Vietnam War.
The end ofthe military draft was announced.
Mar. 29, 1973 -- The last of American forces leave Vietnam.
Oct. 10, 1973 -- Vice President Spiro Agnew resigns and pleads no contest to charges of tax evasion on payments made to him by Maryland contractors when he was governor.
Oct. 12, 1973 -- Gerald Ford becomes the first Vice President appointed under the 25th Amendment.
Dec. 6, 1973 -- Gerald Ford is sworn in as the 40th Vice President of the United States.
We receive television pictures from Jupiter from the Pioneer 10.
An energy crisis occurs closing many businesses and schools for a short period
Henry Kissenger wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
Native Americans stage a protest at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
Aug. 9, 1974 -- Nixon resigns with Vice President Gerald Ford sworn in on the same day.
Dec. 19, 1974 -- Nelson Rockefeller is sworn in as the 41st Vice President of the United States.
The Soviet Sojuz and U.S. Apollo link up in space.
Congress passes the Education Assistance and the Indian Self-Determination Acts.
July 4, 1976 -- The U.S. marks the 200th anniversary of its independence with festivals, parades, and New York City's Operation Sail, a gathering of tall ships from around the world.