Now that we know a little more about Vilma and the direction of this blog, let’s step back in time to take a glimpse at the world in the nostalgic past of the 1950's:
It was a time without the Internet, Twitter, Facebook and
Smartphones. Not everyone had a home
phone or even their own television yet. How did people ever communicate? People simply wrote letters--many
letters, sent telegrams or most often just came to visit you at your own home
to talk face to face.
It was considered a safe and peaceful decade. World War
II was over, the main worry people had was the escalating “Cold War” with
Russia and the proliferation of Communism throughout the world. This gave rise
to the Korean War which began in 1950, often referred to as the “Forgotten
War”, which America was in against the North Korean Communists.
During World War II, Los Angeles grew as the epicenter for
production of aircraft, war supplies and ammunitions. By 1950, Los Angeles was
an industrial and financial giant created by war production and migration. Los
Angeles assembled more cars than any other city than Detroit and became the
national capital for the production of motion pictures, radio programs and
television programs. Construction boomed as tract houses were built in ever
expanding suburban communities. America itself was in an economic boom and jobs
were in abundance.
Women were generally not career minded, the goal for a young
girl just out of school was to find a man like her dear old dad and get
married. It was considered the age of the “Nuclear Family”: The three bedroom
house, 2.3 kids, and a family dog. Dad was the one and only breadwinner while
Mom provided a stable, nurturing home for the children. Americans attended
church regularly, religion and faith were valued and it was considered a
morally conscious society. Teenagers spent most of their time with their
families, but when spending time with their friends, cars were the “hang outs”
as they cruised through the town.
Great American Car Culture
The decade of the 1950’s began with 25
million registered automobiles on the road, most of which
predated World War II and were in poor condition. No automobiles or parts were produced
during the war due to rationing and restrictions. However by 1950 most
factories had made the changeover to a consumer-based economy, which birthed
the great American car culture of the 1950’s.
During this time the city of Los
Angeles continued to spread out, particularly with the development of the San
Fernando Valley and the continued improvement of the freeway system constructed
in the wartime of the 1940s, which was originally designed for military
Los Angeles became a city built around
the automobile. Everyone talked cars, discussed the new models and knew
the specifics like horsepower, features and of course, the cost. It was Detroit
and Los Angeles who were the major car builders in the 1950's. They gave us
style, impressiveness and even pizzazz! The American car screamed out the country's
optimism and enthusiasm in a decade of hope. Car manufacturers did everything
in their power to excite buyers to flock to their new car showrooms. We wanted
it bigger, taller, more powerful and drenched with chrome.
The dawning of the Space Age and the
Space Race were reflected in contemporary American automotive styles. Large
tailfins, graceful designs reminiscent of rockets and radio antennas that
imitated Sputnik 1 were common. A new generation of service businesses
focusing on customers with their automobiles sprang up during the decade, full
service gas stations, drive-through or drive- in restaurants and the classic drive-in
The hottest and finest cars ever to be built came out of the 1950’s, from the Ford Mustang, to the Cadillac Convertible and Chevy Corvette, these are the likes of which will never, ever be produced again in any of our lifetimes. And let’s not forget the Hot Rods and Muscle Cars popularized in movies which made James Dean famous, and all 100% made in America like most things were in the 1950’s.
After WWII, the
1950's was a time of change and Rock n’ Roll was the newest sound on the
horizon. America was about to embark
on a musical voyage that would alter the face of music. New recording
technologies such as the 45 RPM single, electric guitars, electric bass and
jukeboxes allowed a change in the way people created and listened to music. This
decade was a time of innovation that impacted everything that we listen to on
the radio today.
The 1950's saw
the growth of Rock 'n' Roll and Rockabilly. The term "Rockabilly" was
coined because it sounds like a combination of country and R&B music with
rock influences. Artists that were popular in the rockabilly genre were Buddy
Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent.
Blues (R&B) and Rock 'n' Roll popularized "black" music. Many
African-American musicians rose to fame and enjoyed great success. Elvis
Presley is thought to be the "King of Rock 'n' Roll", he originally wanted
to market "black music" to white audiences, especially with his
Gospel roots. Elvis was more successful in this endeavor than any other artist
of the time and he epitomized the Rock 'n' Roll style. Other popular R & B
artists were B. B. King, Fats Domino, Ray Charles and Etta James.
music of the 1950's is the music that was popular before rock music came into
the mainstream in the middle of the 1950’s. Most of the traditional pop artists
of the 1950's sang pop standards, they would take the older well-known songs
and put their own individual style into it. Some examples of traditional pop
artists were Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Patti
Page. This genre was greatly influenced by jazz, swing and big band standards.
popular musicians in this genre also translated well onto television and would
sometimes have their own TV variety shows or music specials. Some of the most
popular artists who crossed over to Television were Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and Doris Day.
As one can see, this was a very unique and transitional time for America. It is interesting that the history of this era has become 'cool' again and has been making a comeback. You can find a huge market for the clothing as many youth are dressing in signature hairstyles and the fashions of the day! I hope this little website does its best at continuing to promote and inspire the nostalgia of the 1950's.