Archive for October, 2017

The Age of the Automobile

by admin - October 12th, 2017

By Emily Clemente

There were several events that brought about huge change during the 1950s, but there was one particular invention that had a profound effect on America. In Andrew J. Dunar’s book, America in the Fifties, he says, “It affected not only how Americans traveled, but also where they lived, where they shopped, where they ate, and how they spent their leisure time.” (Dunar 169) This brilliant creation was known as the automobile. In 1950 alone, there were 7,987,000 vehicles produced. The economy was generally driven by the automobile industry.

General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler were known as the three main car manufacturers during the 1950s. However, this changed in 1960 when foreign car manufacturers began to enter the United States and put their products on the market. In 1950, only a small percentage of the automobiles that were bought came from outside of the U.S. In 1950, there were only 300 Volkswagens bought. This is because Volkswagens were products of the Japanese. As a result of these products being created in Japan, they were typically viewed as cheap and flimsy by Americans. The typical car that Americans wanted had to be big and have a boxy shape. The prices of the different makes and models widely ranged. The most popular model was sold for approximately $1,800. This model was an 8-cylinder, 100-horsepower vehicle with a manual transmission. Other makes and models were sold for different prices, as they included different features. Fords and Chevys were typically sold for $1,329 while nicer cars, such as Cadillacs and Chryslers usually cost $4,959 and $5,384. Additional makes and models are listed on this website. Car sales absolutely rocketed as new changes emerged within the appearances of the different models.

The main manufacturers, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, continued to introduce new features that kept the industry booming. Dunar says, “In the first year of the fifties, sales reached 6.7 million, on their way to a peak of 7.6 million in 1955.” (Dunar 169) At the beginning of the decade, only 60 percent of American families owned an automobile; however, by the end of the decade, approximately 78 percent of families owned an automobile. Some of the later models from the 1950s became “classics.” This meant that these cars were featured in classic car shows. There were even some songs made about “classic” cars during the 1950s as well. Throughout the decade, the automobile industry continued to boom.

The automobile industry had impacts on several different factors. For example, it impacted where people traveled, where they shopped, and even where they ate. Dunar claims that, “The automobile affected American eating habits even more dramatically than its shopping patterns.” (Dunar 171) People were always on the go; therefore, they were looking for fast ways to get cheap food. Easy food was made accessible when drive-ins were more common. The McDonald brothers, Dick and Maurice, opened a popular restaurant known as McDonald’s. The automobile allowed individuals to get dinner and watch a movie without leaving their cars. The automobile industry boomed during the 1950s, changing the ways many Americans lived.

A 1955 Chevy BelAir

Works Cited
Dunar, Andrew J. America in the Fifties. Syracuse University Press, 2006.

“Cars in the 1950s.” RetroWaste,

“The Life in 50s: Cars.” The Life in 50s,

Elvis Presley

by admin - October 12th, 2017

By Matas Buivydas

Elvis Presley, a man with immense fame and who changed the style of music and Rock & Roll forever. He had great talent when it came to dancing elegantly, wooing the audience with every move and twist. Not only that, but his voice controlled the 1950’s and so on with his indistinguishable voice.

Elvis appears on the Ed Sullivan show

Elvis Presley was not known well until he made multiple television appearances, spiking his fame and fanbase. Presley contained characteristics that people were in love with. He was someone that no one could miss, with his slick combed hair and fashion. His deep voice with his way of elongating his words could be identified. His voice gained the center of attention, as he could illuminate the stage with his style of singing jazz and rock & roll songs. Famous for recording “Hound Dog” and the well known “Jailhouse Rock”, Presley began to take opportunities on the ‘big’ screen. Appearing on the Stage Show, he then proceeded to record more songs and sing them live, expanding his fame. He had also been on The Ed Sullivan Show, which was the hit show in the 1950’s, but although it was a different plan for the show, the turnout was beneficial for his career as well as the show.

Presley was an idol for the teenage environment, and also was a symbol of provocative movement. Parents, like any generation with certain dance movements within music, were displeased with what culture Presley was creating. Seen in many video bits and live recorded concerts, Presley was cheered on for the slightest bodily movement by girls, yet frowned upon by parents due to it being seen as a suggestive and provocative dance move.

The King of Rock has his name live up to the current times, and will forever hold that position. Elvis Presley created a definite place for himself in history, holding a reputable voice and dance moves. Elvis Presley will continue to be an inspiration for many as well as be known for his success.

Works Cited

“Elvis Presley Biography : A Comprehensive History of Elvis Presley’s Dynamic Life.” Elvis Australia News,
“Elvis Presley Biography.” Rolling Stone,
“Elvis Presley.” Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,
“Elvis Presley.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Oct. 2017,

Jackie Robinson

by admin - October 12th, 2017

By Meagan Perro

In the time after World World 2, racial equality was taking a huge turn for the better. There was a lot of political pressure towards treating blacks like equals and this correlated into the sports world. Integration in baseball, football, and basketball changed the views of many. “The professional leagues as well as the colleges and universities began to realize that they were experiencing a watershed in American history and efforts had to be made to achieve full integration in sports, if not everyday life” (Walter). Pre World War 2, blacks were restricted to much more than just ability to play sports. Before the integration of sports, blacks and whites played as opponents. The blacks started to dominate a great deal of the games being played, so whites stopped allowing them to even play each other at all. Rumors were started that blacks were of “low intelligence, criminal tendencies, and inferior physicality” (Walter). But, blacks were “performing at such a high level that by decade’s end there was no longer a question of turning back to the segregated major league sports” (242).

One of the many faces that aided in the change of our segregated world was Jackie Robinson. He was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. He has four other siblings and he is the youngest. He went to John Muir High school and also attended Pasadena Junior College. At both schools, he played four sports, football, basketball, track, and baseball and succeeded greatly. He was named MVP in 1938. Jackie’s older brother, Matthew, won a silver medal in the 200 meter dash in the 1936 Olympics and he inspired Jackie to pursue his love for sports. Jackie went on to go to University of California, Los Angeles, and became the university’s first student to win four varsity letters. He did not graduate from college because he faced some financial hardships and was forced to leave UCLA. He then moved to Hawaii and played football for the Honolulu Bears, until his time there was also cut short due to World War 2. Jackie served 2 years in the army, although he never saw combat. While at training camp, there was an incident in which Jackie refused to give up a bus seat to a white man. This played a major role on the impact Jackie made on the world.

Photo of Jackie Robinson swinging a bat and wearing the number 42 in a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform taken by a staff member of the LOOK magazine in 1954

After Jackie’s discharge from the army, he played in a segregated professional baseball league. Due to his great success, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, asked Jackie to help integrate the teams. He first joined the Montreal Royals, a farm team for the royals, and later moved up to the Dodgers. His first game was April 15, 1947, marking the first time an African American played in the major leagues. Rickey made sure Jackie was aware of the possibility of extreme racism he could have to face, and did have to face. Jackie is well known for being so calm and holding back his reactions. Even some of his own teammates did not approve of him being on the team. Despite the hardships of the racial slurs and threats imposed on Jackie, he won many awards, including rookie of the year in his first season.

Jackie is memorable for being such a “talented and versatile player” (Goldstein), but he also impacted the Civil Rights movement immensely. After retirement, Jackie served on the board of NAACP and testified against discrimination in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee. All African Americans admired Jackie Robinson for what he was doing and he helped to gain hope in many of their eyes on the future of equality. His career served as a very pivotal turning point for African Americans.

Work Cited

“Jackie Robinson.”, A&E Networks Television, 14 Aug. 2017, Staff. “Jackie Robinson.”, A&E Television Networks, 2009,

Rock ‘n’ Roll in the 1950s

by admin - October 12th, 2017

By Sam Maglione

Rock ‘n’ roll had evolved in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It was evolving from music styles such as rhythm and blues, jazz, and gospel. Typically in rock ‘n’ roll music the lead instrument is an electric guitar. One popular jazz song that was a start to the rock ‘n’ roll music was a song called Roll ‘Em Pete by Big Joe Turner. In the 1950s, rock ‘n’ roll music was considered to be for teenagers.

When rock ‘n’ roll first came out, many white artists were trying to cover R&B songs. But the problem was they weren’t catching on. Record producers such as Sam Phillips were in search of a white artist that could really help make rock ‘n’ roll popular. That’s when Elvis Presley was discovered.

Elvis Presley is referred to as the “King of Rock and Roll”. His music career began in 1954 after he recorded his first song. He had gone back to Suns Records to record a second time but unfortunately nothing had come out of that. Later he had gone to an audition for a quartet but it didn’t go well. Later, Elvis made his first appearance on the Milton Berle show and that sparked everything for Elvis. He started getting more appearances and becoming more popular. Elvis was considered to be a sex symbol later on as he became more popular especially to the teenage audience.

This is an image of Elvis Presley during his first appearance on television

Some people considered rock and roll to be “tasteless” while others enjoyed the new type of music. A lot of middle class white citizens did not enjoy the music but the teenagers along with lower classes did. Younger generations thought of rock and roll as a way to sort of let go a little bit and just be themselves. “By 1954, musical tastes among young consumers were shifting. The phenomenon that Freed had noticed, in which young white audiences were favoring R&B music by black artists over pop music by white artists such as Perry Como and Eddie Fisher, had become a national trend” (271). The younger generation was starting to like newer and different music even though their parents weren’t too thrilled about that. “Here, we knew, was a sonic cataclysm come bursting (apparently) out of nowhere, with the power to change our lives forever. Because it was obviously, inarguably our music. If we had any initial doubt about that, our parents’ horrified — or at best dismissive — reactions banished those doubts.” (RollingStone). No one really knew what this new type of music was but they listened to it anyways because it was something different and they weren’t used to it.

Works Cited

Dunar, Andrew J. America in the fifties. Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University Press, 2006.

Palmer, Robert. “The 50s: A Decade of Music That Changed the World.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 19 Apr. 1990,

The Hike to Space

by admin - October 2nd, 2017

By Emma Greenberg

The biggest scientific advancements in the 50’s were the satellite made by both the Soviets and the Americans.

This replica of Stpunik I is currently in the National Air and Space Museum

When the Soviet Union launched the first satellite on October 4, 1957, which they named Sputnik 1, which meant fellow traveler. It had five primary objective; test putting a satellite into orbit, test the density of the atmosphere, test methods of orbital tracking, determine if radio signals could reach through the atmosphere, and to see if pressurization of satellites worked. However, what stands out in the collective memory of Americans is the beeping, which can be heard here.

Despite the fear that it drew from Americans, it was not a particularly impressive satellite by today’s standards. However it wasn’t the capabilities of the satellite that scared American scientists it was that “they had launched a satellite that weighed more than fifty times as much as the three-and-a-half pound satellite prepared to launch by the United States.” (281). That meant that not only had the Soviets beat the American to space, they had also done it with better thrusters, which meant that they could easily hit America with its nuclear weapons. Even scarier for Americans was that just over a month after Sputnik 1 was launched, Sputnik 2 was launched, this time with a passenger, a dog named Laika. It was also six times as heavy as Sputnik 1. It was able to transmit data to Earth for 15 minutes once every orbit by telemetry systems. It was able to collect data on solar radiation and the effect of space on living creatures. The spaceship had no way of returning to Earth, and Laika was provided with enough food and water to last about 10 days, but during launch some of the thermal insulation tore loose, and Laika likely only survive two of the potential ten days. Sputnik 2 reentered Earth’s atmosphere on April 14, 1955, after 162 days in orbit.

However, it wasn’t just the soviets who got satellites into space in the 50’s. On January 31 1958, the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency successfully launched a satellite named Explorer I (officially named Satellite 1958 Alpha) out of Cape Canaveral Florida. It’s primary purpose was to measure the amount of radiation in Earth orbit. The satellite was only 14 kg to Sputniks 83 kg. Explorer I made its last transmission on May 23, 1958, after gathering some very important information about charged particles in Earth’s atmosphere. It reentered Earth’s atmosphere on March 31, 1970, after more than 58,000 orbits.

Explorer 3 was launched not long after, on March 26, 1958, which operated until June 16th, and help gather more information about charged particles in Earth’s atmosphere. Explorer 4 was launched July 26, 1958 and operated until October 6 and helped with nuclear weapons tests. Explorer 6 was launched August 7, 1959 and helped to study the magnetic field around the Earth. Explorer 7 was launched on October 3, 1959, and helped collect data micro-meteors.

This is Luna 3’s image of the far side of the moon

After the Sputnik program, the Soviets continued their space program with the Luna program, with Luna launching on January 1, 1959, being the first Earth made object to fly near the moon. On September 12, 1959, Luna 2 was launched and was the first Earth made object to impact the moon. Most impressive was on October 4, 1959, Luna 3 took the first picture of the far side of the moon.

Dunar, Andrew J. America In The Fifties. Syracuse, N.Y., Syracuse University Press, 2006,
Loff, Sara. “Explorer 1 Overview.” NASA, 2017,
“Luna Mission.” Lunar And Planetary Institute,
“Sputnik 1.” NASA, 2017,
Smith, Woody. “Explorer Series Of Spacecraft.” NASA History Division, 2006,
“The Early Satellites.” NASA, 2004,
Williams, David. “Sputnik 2.” NASA, 2017,

Development of Disneyland in the 1950s

by admin - October 2nd, 2017

By Victoria Lemire

During the 1940s, filmmaker and cartoonist, Walt Disney, visited many amusement parks with his two daughters. While watching them play on the small rides, Disney started to form an idea of a place where children and adults could have fun together. Walt Disney developed a production company with his brother Roy, creating some of the characters that are still popular today such as Mickey Mouse and Cinderella (Admin). Some of Walt and Roy’s design ideas can be seen here. As the years passed, Walt gained more money from the many shows and movies he had begun to produce, direct, and illustrate like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and The Disneyland Show, and his idea started to become a reality.

At first, Disney wanted to build his Magic Kingdom in Burbank, California, near his production studio, but realized that the site was too small. He instead decided to build in Anaheim on a 160 acre site. Construction started in 1954 and ended in 1955. Opening day, July 17, 1955, was recorded to be a minor disaster. Many of the rides were not ready, thousands of uninvited guests managed to sneak in, whether knowingly or not due to counterfeit tickets being sold, traffic was backed up, and there were many problems with the broadcasting system (Admin). Despite all of those challenges, Disneyland was still a huge success.

On July 18, 1955 Disneyland was officially opened to the public. Crowds started forming at the gates at 2 in the morning for the chance to buy a ticket. The public was interested in everything Disneyland had to offer. Disney tried to encompass all of the different lands that he had developed in his show The Disneyland Show, “Fantasyland,” “Frontierland,” “Adventureland,” and “Tomorrowland” (Dunar 245). One of the iconic elements of the park was Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, located in the middle of the four lands.The show itself helped to promote Disneyland, peaking interest in young viewers. The park was one of the biggest tourist attractions in the United States. It was designed to “engage people’s interest, move them efficiently through the park grounds and convey a consistent set of values” (Dunar 247). Workers were trained thoroughly to be friendly, helpful, and welcoming. Disneyland was clean and new, giving guests a sense of what once was and what could be.

Despite Disneyland’s huge success, it had gained several critics. People discussed the issue of guests waiting in hour long lines, and the vibe of consumerism that the park gave off. Others in defense said the Disneyland represented the culture of the 1950s in America, showing a capitalist culture with a mix of family entertainment and technology. Today, The Walt Disney Company is one of the largest and most successful business operations throughout the world. Disney owns several channels on the television, they have hundreds of movies and television shows that have been produced since the 1930s, and there are now 11 Disney parks opened around the world (Admin).

When Walt Disney first opened his park in 1955, he had no idea of how popular and successful his idea would become. He did not realize how his ideas would evolve into something that is loved and cherished by children and adults worldwide.

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in 1955

Works Cited
Admin. “Walt Disney.” The Walt Disney Family Museum, The Walt Disney Museum, Disney
Enterprises Inc., 21 June 2016,
Dunar, Andrew J. America in the Fifties. Syracuse University Press, 2006.