This page is in response to email questions asked about the 1950's. The 1950's were a special time in history. Many changes were taking place. Below are some notes, information, on several of those happenings and other 1950's and early 1960's social history topics; a slice of life from a 1950's teeny-bopper's point of view.
Some of the 1950's and early 1960's history topics mentioned below are:
rock and roll, 1950's clothing, styles, food, beliefs, the 1950's Superman, jobs, work, teen movies, school paper ideas, Elvis Presley and fashion, fifties Models, food, 1950's good lip sync songs, names of teen magazines, 50's teen idols clothing styles, teen rebellion, toys, fads & pastimes, games, 1950's party ideas, the poodle skirt, dances, women, men, parents and children growing up in the 1950's, prices, perfumes, income, Ads, school.
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Boomers Fifties Teen Idol Magazine © Boomers Pinups
How Rock and roll changed a generation:
1. 1950's Parents and teens
Before rock and roll :children were seen and not heard.
After rock and roll started ( see one of my other webpages):
1950's teens struggling to be heard
2. 1950's Clothing
Before Rock and Roll: very conservative clothing.
After rock and roll started.(see one of my other webpages):
Elvis Presley was the singer that symbolized Rock and Roll - colorful turned up collar.....
3. 1950's Music
Before Rock and roll: performers were pretty conservative in their stage performances.
And teenagers and parents were in general pretty conservative when they danced.
After rock and roll started: performers really moved to the music( see the same wepage as above)Elvis rocking and rolling and the following webpage
4. 1950's Hair styles
Before Rock and Roll: Teen boys hair was cut short and or combed to the side with a part.
After rock and roll: Side burns and longer hair
(see my webpages)fifties hairand
In general for a list of 1950's fashion, clothing, hair( see my following webpage:
When rock and roll became popular, some clothing for teens became looser.
As teens rocked to the music they liked wear that let them move more freely. Baggier pants for teen boys, and full skirts for teen girls become popular.
Fifties jacket and pants style .
Text links and Banners
it was the beginning of a transition in style--- from the height of formality evidenced in the 40's, to an ever-increasing informality in styles that were present by the late fifties.
Elvis Presley and clothing styles:In the Mid 1950's, there were rumblings about this young singer and fashion rebel, Elvis Presley. In 1956; Elvis, with his first #1 hit Heartbreak Hotel and his appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, becomes the symbol of fashion for the young generation. Examples of clothing…. Loose, longer jacket, more color.
Elvis in 1950's stylish suit
Fifties Actresses and Models, thin or curvy
I would say that in the 1950's actresses would be, in general, categorized curvy. The bust and hips, I would say, were in general, a bit larger than present day actresses.
Although the Bust and hips size were mostly larger in the 1950's; it was the waist size that was most important to be small. Waists were cinched in by belts, and even clothing was designed to be tight around the waist area.
1950's: The WAIST size and BUST size was advertised and most important....not Weight.
For instance, magazine stories would print the statistics of actresses..Bust size, waist size, hip size. Perfect was for the bust and hips to be about the same size and the waist size to be as small as possible; yet usually not even a mention of weight.
IN THE EARLY 1950's there was Marilyn Monroe who was heavier; but some stars like Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn weighed less.
IN THE LATE 1950's, there was Sandra Dee whose weight was more, rather than less. However she too had a larger bust and small waist. [NOTE: In the 1960's she became thin and concerned with weight.]
To sum up, I would say that presently it is WEIGHT(low weight) that seems to be important for present day actresses.(good news is this present day low weight trend might be changing to a bit more rounded)
In the 1950's, I would say an actresses figure was judged by the Bust size(bigger better) and Waist size(smaller better) , and not necessarily on weight.
Fifties Actresses - photos
Fifties Actress: Sandra Dee - photos
Fifties Actress: Marilyn Monroe - photos
Here is a list - names of 1950's clothing styles.:
poodle skirt :Girls wore full skirts with motifs on them (ex. poodle with a leash)and tight fitting blouses tucked into the waist
capri / pirate pants,
jeans / dungarees,
petticoats, "can-can" petticoats,
peter pan collared blouse,
twin sweater set,
bathing suits: strapless, or haltered one-piece suits,
motor scooter slacks,
stirrup pants, motor scooter pants,
shoes: penny loafers, white buckskin lace up shoes, saddle shoes,pumps,stiletto heel,
plastic pop beads,
sloppy joe sweater and leotard,
bermuda shorts and hawaiian shirt,
bobby sox, ankle sox,
jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket or denim jacket,
glasses: black horned rim,
Note: for men's formal wear: The White Sports Coat became popular.
There were other styles of wear but I don't think some of them had a name. For instance,the jackets that men wore got longer, looser, and less shoulder padding.
Women's formal wear, strapless was popular.
Fifties women's fashions
Fifties men's fashions
1950's school clothing
more school pics showing 1950s 1960s clothing
Late 1950s fashion looks
Fashion photos of classic movie stars:
Pictures of era actresses wearing some of the above listed dress wear 1950's Actress dress wear.
And photos of era actors wearing fifties clothing styles 1950's Men Actors & fashion.
New Fifties photos of real people: Photos from the 1950s of Teen girls and boys, grammar school children, and adults. Here is a link to my new webpage
Your 1950's photos Photos include a selection of snapshots and school pictures of the era – yearbook pictures and snapshots. The hair styles and clothing trends of the 1950’s and early 1960’s are shown. Many photos are of the real teens that dragged 10th street of the town of American Graffiti.
Hair dressings for boys and men in the 1950’s and 1960’s: The purpose of most hair dressing was to style the hair in place, as my brothers would say to train the hair.
Probably the most remembered dressing is Brylcreem (a little dab a do ya).
One of my brothers preferred the brylcreem for his Jimmy Rogers kewpie haircut style.
My other brother’s hair dressing of choice was Fitch rose brilliantine hair oil. Both brothers at times used Wildroot creme oil. Some other popular dressings of the times: Lucky Tiger hair oil (rose preferred), Vam hair oil, Vitalis, Pomade and Butch wax. Butch wax was good for making short hair cuts standup where desired.
Hairstyles of boys and men in the 1950s and 1960’s: crew cut (buzzed over one length), the tapered haircut with side part and wave in front, flat top (hair standing up at top and close cut on sides), pompadour (long on top and sides), pompadour with DA, DA is a duck tail: sides brushed back and hair comes together at the backside forming a vertical edge- like the tail of a duck, flat top with wings (flat on top long on sides with a DA in back sometimes).
1950's flat tops, side part, and pompadour hairstyles
Jimmy Rogers: the kewpie haircut.
1950's Teen Idols video
The Poodle Skirt/Why were poodle skirts so popular in 1950's?:
One reason is they were very good for dancing to the fifties rock and roll songs, such as Elvis' song All Shook Up.
They were easy to move in leaving lots of room to swing. The full skirt with the petticoats under emphasized the dance moves
as you spun around. Also it was a statement of freedom symbolized in the skirt (a loosening and free), a movement by teens
to express themselves.
A poodle emblem was the most know addition to the poodle skirt. However teens could express rock n roll, though other emblems
( record, musical notes, dances rock n rolling, etc).
Jobs - work in the 1950's.
The 1950's: It was more a manufacturing and agricultural age, rather than the present day information age.
There were more blue collar jobs and less white collar occupations --more manufacturing and food processing;
lot more smaller farms all over the country.
There was more need for secretaries, receptionist and support work. Typing pools in big offices mainly women
typing letters, contracts, things that computers generate now. Presently, the computer has truly reduced that kind of work.
Some 1950's topics / ideas for school papers:
1. 1950's fashions - clothing 2. 1950's teen music 3. 1950's
television programs for the younger generation 4.
1950's and rock and roll 5. a day, year in a life of
1950's teen 6. cruising 7. 1950's cruising 8. 1950's
You probably should narrow any of the above topics down
(more specific) when writing class papers. For example: What effect if any did
Elvis Presley have on the mid and late 1950's (
fashions, music, teens and parents)
or... Superman during the 1950's, his fashion, the TV
show, the actor, his image or look, the younger
or...the diary of a fictional 1950's teen
or you could do an interview and ask question of a 55 -
65 year old and ask them what it was like....
1950's Food, beliefs, clothing
1. The food:
The Betty Crocker cookbook was the model for most family recipes. There were lots of casserole recipes
in the Betty Crocker cookbook.. Pot roast, and fried chicken with mashed potatoes were probably among the most
prominent of family meals.....And anything BBQ'd. Popular on most weekly cafeteria school meals were: tamale pie,
dog in a blanket. Popular desserts: jello, tapioca pudding, and banana and vanilla wafer pudding, rice
krispy marshmellow squares. Popular at the drug store fountain:
Society was very different, much stricter and more structured. Rules were important and not to be broken. Most agreed on and knew what was right and what was wrong.....no shades of gray...everything was black or white.
There was more emphasis on consequences of ones action. People were held much more accountable for their actions.
Men were mostly the bread winners, the ones who worked, had careers, and made the money to support the family. Women were mostly expected to stay home and be in charge of the home and taking care of the family.
3. Clothing descriptions. Here is one of my pages where I have put links to lots of materials about 1950's, including 1950's fashion.
more 1950's links.
Drive-in foods and counter foods:
Burger (it was more commonly called a burger in those days), hot dogs, fries, shake, root beer float, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, or orange (Kist). Photo of local era drive-in
At the 1950's Kresses counter the most remembered lunches were same as above, and then a toasted cheese sandwich and the big meal was a hot turkey sandwich meal (opened faced turkey sandwich on white wonder bread, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and gravy. The desserts: apple or boysenberry pie, jello, puddings (vanilla, chocolate, tapioca), scoop of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate or strawberry), banana split.
1950s Car Hops
Fifties Soda Jerk
Superman - 1950's clothing style
George Reeves: The Superman of the 1950's. "Even Superman pays attention to 1950's fashion-- from proper business attire(the business suit) to a more casual look (in his standout, blue and red worksuit)." Here is a website with good photos - collage of Superman in his work suit and his business suit: Superman photos
Superman - Every kid's Hero.
1950's Teenager and Civics class
The fifties teen, practiced etiquette and proper dating courtesies.
(At the end of the date say you had a good time and thank you for the date.) She was taught this in her high school "Civics class". She learned the proper way to sit, stand and walk (using a book on the head to practice proper alignment.
In her physical education class she learned how to social dance along with the boys. And the proper etiquettes - "to graciously accept when a boy asked you to dance and "thank you " at the end of the dance.
Here are names of some of those 50's magazines:
hep cat, photoplay, popular screen, screenland , tv radio mirror , movie stars magazine, song hits magazine, teen beat, teen star album, movie world, teen magazine, teen screen, movie life, motion picture, hollywood magazine, hollywood secrets, hollywood movie parade, movielife, movie screen, modern screen, teen star album, stardom magazine, teen world magazine, dig magazine, teen pinups, screenplay, movie teen,stardom magazine, pinups magazine.
More information about 1950's magazines.
1950's Teenager and the Movies
A fun way you might want to go for some material would be to check out some of the fifties movies. The following Sandra Dee and Doris Day movies were very influential in my teeny bopper life and my friend's life, growing up in the fifties.
"A Summer Place" starring Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue.
This movie emphasized the importance in society of being a "good girl".
"Pillow Talk" starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson.
The movie dramatized society’s view of the dating roles of girls and boys.
Other movies people were watching in the fifties.
The very early 50's were still strict. You can kind of think of it as a build up towards rebellion...The movie, Rebel without a cause played in 1955. The real in your face rebellion began showing itself with the upstart of rock n roll and Elvis Presley...beginning 54, 55....But 1956 was a big year for public Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show and the big outbreak that he caused with parents.
See my Elvis Presley webpage.
Elvis and James Dean
Shoes, notes on 1950's shoe style
Some popular shoes in the 50's: black and white converse tennis shoes; two toned/suede/ and white bucks;
flat and trim white tennis shoes (women's tennis shoes were not bulky like present day ones).
See converse tennis shoes; two toned bucks; saddle shoes and flat tennis shoes on my following web page :
See Pat Boone (a fifties teen idol) wearing white bucks:
Oxfords, mary janes. Many people remember a mens shoe called snap jack spades, with a lever and latch closure. The most popular shoe for men was the loafer - a slip on shoe of leather, or canvas.
Also men's and women's wing tip shoes and women's spike high heel shoes, black or white popular. Not much variety of color in shoes in the fifties. Although there were some colors choices available, most styles/sizes were black or white.
Black (or white) flats or ballerina..See Debbie Reynolds 1950's movie star wearing white flats:
Stiletto Heels Some web pages with good info/history on the stiletto:
Italian shoemaker and the Stiletto heel;
Stiletto shoe background
'A Hollywood columnist claims Marilyn Monroe's famous wiggle was all down to her stiletto shoes. According to Jimmy Starr, the actress cut a quarter of an inch off one heel so that when she walked her bottom would wiggle.'
Perhaps the most photographed movie star wearing the stiletto heel would be Marilyn Monroe.
Here are some of my "boomers pinups of marilyn monroe" pages, which will show pictures of her wearing the stiletto heel:
Marilyn in stiletto heels
Marilyn Monroe in stiletto heels
(see posters at bottom of page with marilyn in heels)
In stilettos from Some Like It Hot
Other movie stars that were photographed in stiletto heels would be Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner, Jane Mansfield, Jane Russell, Gina Lollabridgida.
1950's 1960's lip sync - A big Craze!
Good lip sync songs: Connie Francis( the #1 female singer) singing "Lipstick on your collar"
Or "Stupid Cupid"
She has a very unique voice and fun songs.
Mary Wells singing "My Guy".
Note: You could also use the "My Guy"version from the movie "Sister Act" 1 or 2?
Also from "Sister Act 1 or 2?" the song "I will follow him"
Patsy Cline ( the 1950's western/pop singer) singing "Back in Baby's arms" This has a great swinging beat that will have the crowd humming the tune later.
Songs from the movie "Grease" staring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John:
"Freddy my love"
If you want a good Elvis song to lip sync to, then "Jailhouse Rock" is a good choice.
Almost any song by the Supremes would be fun. "Baby Love" is good and has background fun vocals for more than one person.
Millie Small singing "My boy Lollipop" Her voice is so high but very good voice and a very fun song.
Other good era songs: "Yellow Polka Dot Bikini", "My boy friends back" , "Chapel of Love", "And then he kissed me", "Splish splash", "Purple People Eater."
Lastly: Aretha Franklin" "RESPECT", any Alvin & The Chipmunks song, and Sonny and Cher's "I got you babe"(this is a boy and girl number).
Photos of teen idols and their clothing styles.
Here are some pictures from some of my other 1950's pages that might be of use to you.
Annette Funicello in capris, scarf, and flat shoes
Annette in capris
Sandra Dee in Capri’s (pedal pushers).
Sandra in pedal pushers
Sandra Dee: tight fitting bodice and flaring skirt with nylon fabric petticoats.
Sandre Dee skirt style
Pat Boone clothing style:
Pat Boone style
Leisure wear, open-necked shirt, white buck shoes, twill trousers.
Elvis clothing Style: Loose, colorful, longer jacket, open necked shirt--no tie.
Elvis Style 2
Pictures from the movie "Grease"
Grease 50's style clothing
Edd Byrnes clothing style:
Dances 1950's early 1960's:
bop, stroll( line dance), swing, hully gully, peppermint, twist, mashed potato, the pony, swim, bunny hop.
see video of 1950's teens dancing
Dating in the fifties was based on etiquette.
Basic Dating etiquette was actually taught in schools, as part of the Civics class. Girls were taught how to sit properly,
what to say at the door at the end of the date, how to walk, sample topics of conversation,etc. The boys, the proper way to ask a girl
Dance classes were taught in school, and at etiquette schools. First dating was usually at school dances.
Some boys and girls were going steady,
which meant you wore the boys ring or a special necklace such as a heart around your neck.
Young girls and boys were dropped off by their parents for high school dances. Some high school teens were able to date especially
by their senior year. Such dates could be double dates; for some soda shop dates, drive in movie dates.
1960's date photos
For more information on dating in the fifties see other headings below on this page - 'How the MEN were expected
to be' and 'Women in the 1950’s – how they were expected to act.'
Fads: Felt skirts with poodle appliques,
hula hoops, pop beads, roller skating, dance hops, bowling, cruising,
raffles, bingo, ducktail cut, flattops and crew cuts, Davy Crockett hats, toy guns, varsity sweaters, girl wearing boys ring on a necklace,
bowling, silly putty, frisbees, boating & waterskiing. Fads of the Fifties, pictures
Squares, cops, rebel, biker, chick, pops,tight(good friends) be bop, threads (clothing), keen, crazy, back seat bingo (necking in the backseat of car), tight (cool or good friends),jacketed (going steady),
submarine races (a fake event, and go to place of fake event to make out with date),
Big Daddy (older generation),
kill (impress), cat (a cool or with it person), cube (normal person),hep (cool)
Some of my other web pages with more info/more slang: Kookie
Slang then and now: What was different about the slang in 50’s?
Perhaps the 1950's slang was more tamer? I don't remember profanity to be a part of the slang.
It was more everyday words that were turned into slang for the purpose of the youth to have something of their own. Here is one of my web pages (Elvis and James) that might give a background of how the teens were feeling at the time...
they just wanted a little bit of freedom, a little bit of space from their parents...they wanted something of their own.
Elvis Presley and James Dean
PASTIMES of the 1950's & Recreational Activities:
hula hoop, Roller skating, dance hops, bowling, cruising..
soda shops, drive in movie, boating, listening to 45" records at the record
Saturday movies were big pastimes it would be an all
afternoon event - a live act was onstage(sometimes a big movie star) before
the newsreel; cartoon and feature movie. After school sports: for girls it
was the GAA..Girl's Athletic Association.
Attendance at football games was big pastime for the family.
Out on the farms fishing was great, horseback riding.
Families played games together at night. For instance board games of Monopoly,
card games, recreational games like hide and seek,
tag, musical chairs.
Family activities and activities with other families:
Roller Skating at home or at rink, game olly olly oxen free; snow trip, lake and boating, amusement park, camping, Disneyland, Beach area vacation.
Husband and wife together activities:
Saturday night dinners out with other couples, dinner and dance, Square dance club, Neighborhood dance, bridge nights.
Little league baseball (baseball the biggest sport), 4-H, club scouts, boy scouts, girl scouts.
Hobbies and Crafts:
Paint by NumberWoodburning Kits
Models from the fifties. Classic Ford Car Model Kits
Bake sets, and oven that cooks, tree houses, key ring craft set, clay model sets, braided key chain hobby set, tinker toys set.
Children's Toys and Games:
Board games: monopoly, checkers
Games: fish, old maid, pick up sticks, tag.
Olly, Olly Oxen Free (a game of hide and seek)
Toys: tinker toys, slinky,silly putty, mr potato head,tea sets, barbie (1959), hoola hoop, pogo stick, manual scooter, skating with metal skates on cement or roller skate at rink
view master, cap guns with holster, water gun,electric train, record player, paper dolls, raggedy ann doll, comic books, bike schwins.
Games: dodge ball, jacks,
Cowboys and Indians - cowboy(girl) dress up sets of hat, gun and holster, chaps, scarves, boots:
Rainy day at school: 1950's dancing, musical chairs.
You might try your local library. There is a pretty good book titled
"Fashions of a Decade The 1950s" by Patricia Baker.
The book has a picture of Thelma Ritter who was probably in her fifties at the time, and pics of slinky Capri jazz style model..and more 1950's fashions.
For a 25-30 year old kind of sexier look first choices: You might look for picture of Brigette Bardot; or a pic of Jane Russell,Jane Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe (see my web page url below), Liz Taylor or Cyd Charisse.
For the 60 year old look, try finding a pic of the Aunt Bee character from the Andy Griffith show.
Here are some of my 1950s web pages that might help you with 25-30 age-group clothing pics.
Boomers Pinups of Rita Hayworth
(when you arrive,be sure to scroll down to see more pics of her)
Boomers Pinups of Anne Baxter
Boomers Pinups of Marilyn Monroe
1950s photos of women's clothing styles
The Fashion of teens in the 50s compare with the fashion of teens today:
The fashion of the 50's much more conservative, although there was some loosening growth of style and color that began with rock and roll around 1956. But this was a very slow process with "mainstream" America throughout 1956- 1959.
Some areas in which 50's clothing was conservative.....1.color: plaids, less colors and mostly the true colors 2. lengths were longer below the knee. Actually, girls skirt lengths were monitored (measured) at school.. Showed less of the bodies skin...no midriff showing..
3. less style choices.
4. shoes: color mostly black or white. Teens wore their dress shoes to school. Girls wore flats..
5. Teen girls wore dress or skirt and blouse or sweater, boys nice buttoned shirt and nice pants - although jeans (and a nice buttoned shirt) became ok in the 50s.
Fashions of 1950's teenagers
Politics and News in the 1950's
I know most about pop history from a 1950s teen's point of view. However; I like some of the 1950s political articles/info on the following webpages:
The American 1950s
Timeline of the 20th century
READINGS IN THE AMERICAN 1950S
1950's Week by Week Archives
Prep school clothing style, 1950s clothing for school
Prep School 50s Fashion style
Preppy and 1950s
American vs European School attire.
Parents and Children, growing up in the 1950's
The big saying of the 50's by parents was "children are to be seen and not heard" - meaning that children did not talk back to parents. Children had rules, duties/chores and church attendance - all to the purpose of teaching values, responsibility, and developing morals.. Children were taught etiquettes towards parents and elders. Children were taught morals - the fairy tales (ex. Aseops fairy tales), which were read at bedtime and would end with a moral.
In return Society had a duty to protect children. TV networks, movie writers, TV producers gave kids 1950's TV shows on DVD and movies with a moral: Roy Rogers, Fury, Sky King,
Lassie, The Lone Ranger , etc.... These shows had heroes and everyday good people who did the right thing, and kids wanted to be the good guy. Society would not tolerate any media that was unhealthy towards the good of children. Children believe in things - they believed in Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, policemen, fireman, and grownups. Society believed it gave children excitement, a positive outlook (the popular saying "looking through rose colored glasses"), and hope. As a whole society provided children with a happier childhood, producing happier children who in the process became more responsible adults.
These duties expected by parents were not one-sided. Parents had more time to interact with their children, playing games eating around the dinner table, etc...In fact society provided all of the above to children, plus the security of a two family home (divorce was not given easily and was very rare).
The two big morals (the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would be done to", "treat your neighbor as yourself"). This applied to adults, and to all.
In general in the 1950’s there was a lot less tolerance of the individual - this applied to children and to adults as well. People believed more in the greater good of society - there was a lot more conformances to mores, and to the expectation of society.
Authority was respected and appreciated; this included the police, presidents, and teachers. Criminals were punished. There were a lot less rules for children (and adults too), but those rules (society and family) were enforced.
On the other side people helped one another. The welcome committee was active in neighborhoods. Kids were encouraged to join in organizations such as 4-h, scouts - learning good citizenship.
1950's TV Shows
Women in the 1950’s – how they were expected to act::
During wartime: Women had been out in the work force to fill the jobs of the men who were off to war. These jobs were important to the country and wartime, and women were valued for their contribution.
After the war: Men were home now. The jobs that women had been holding during wartime were either given back to the men returning or were no longer required.
It returned back to a man’s world. Husbands went out in the world to work. The husband was the breadwinner and the head of the family.
The woman was a housewife - with basically all the responsibilities inside the home, including those of raising children. No longer did she have her own money to spend - she depended upon the husband and his salary.
There was no greater calling to be a wife and mother; it was required in order to gain respect socially. A girl was termed old maid if not married by age 25, and if not married then there was considered something wrong with her.
Around home the husband relaxed and recovered from work, although he was responsible for chores outside the house such as mow the lawn and small repairs.
The chores of the woman: to take care of her children and husband and all that it required for their physical and emotional well-being. This required shopping for food and necessities, cooking, cleaning, and ironing the clothing of husband and children (lots of this).
The woman’s job of the 1950s was to strive to be and look the perfect housewife. Women were judged not only on how well her home looked, but also on how well she looked. In advertisements, TV shows and movies, the house wife is pictured perfectly well-groomed as she is vacuuming, dusting and cooking. She is in a frilly dress, heels and apron - her nails, makeup and hair perfect.
The perfect women…example the perfect woman image was Marilyn Monroe ( the character she played in her movie..How to Marry a Millionaire). Her topic of conversation should be cute , and topics about home, family, hobbies. Showing too much of ones intellectual smarts was not always an attractive quality. However if her tone was cute enough she could acceptingly say almost anything. Women were big consumers of cosmetics, bought magazines to see and read the latest. She groomed herself, kept her nails painted, etc... And mostly she had some time so that she could enjoy this at her leisure.
The woman was the important center of family life. She was counted on by the family and society. She provided emotional support; organized social occasions and church attendance; taught domestic skills to her daughter; taught proper etiquettes, cleanliness, and morals to the children. She accompanied her husband and children to their events. She joined social committees and clubs - the PTA, Welcome Wagon., etc...
Typical, or most respected, professions for women; teacher, secretary and nurse. But still, it was expected for the woman to put family first. Often women would have to quit her job in time of family callings or pregnancy - thus it could be difficult to advance to higher level in a career. However she also did not have the pressure of being the provider for the family.
The fifties bad girl:
If a girl had a bad reputation, it could be tragic; difficult to overcome she was ostracized.
Girls could be tagged with the title bad girl, sometimes through rumors.
Some of the behaviors that could render a girl this title: obvious flirting,
smoking a cigarette, wearing black eyeliner, associating with the wrong crowd, dress or neckline too revealing, dress too colorful. Also if she was seen necking with a boy, the ultimate was rumors of being in a family way. By the way if a girl was in this way she was shipped out of town to a relative or special home. The societal pressure was so strong that some resorted to illegal abortion. It was difficult for a girl to overcome a bad girl reputation. One remedy was marriage.
Dating behavior: Women/girls in the 1950s were pursued by the man/boy. She’s the prize to be sought after. The girl waited for the boy to make the first move. However she was allowed to smile in a shy manner at a boy, or have a friend hint to him, in order to encourage him to make that first move. The girl then waited for the boy to call or talk to her. It was most proper for the boy to call the girl even after dating a while. The 1950’s girl is cherished by the boy - he is enthused to accompany her, funds the date, opens doors for her, picks her up at her door, and meets with her parents.
Women were put on a pedestal, expected to be good. They were respected and protected by society and laws.
All in all it was a simple lifestyle.
The husband provided the financial support. The wife was free to devote time to herself and family, perhaps at a relaxing and enjoyable pace.
Women’s groups in the 1950’s:
There were lots of women’s auxiliary clubs. These organizations provided such things as money raising activities, and service. Some women’s auxiliaries:
1. Some auxiliaries were associated with men’s clubs, from instance if there was a men’s racing pigeon club, then the wives of the members might form their own social club. 2. The Church organization would be such as choir, Altar Society, or a group that would meet to serve and raise money for charities. 3. The big school related organization for ladies was the Mother’s Club. Some of the Mother’s Club duties could be such things as planning school picnics, outings and the school carnival.
4. Other women's clubs: Soroptomist and Garden Club.
Popular ways for women of the 1950’s to socialize:
Women of the fifties were mostly home (not in the work force). There were other women home in the neighborhood. The most common way for women to socialize was to drop in for a cup of coffee, coffee and piece of home baked pie, or be invited to lunch. Paint their nails together, roll or fix hair, listen to music on the radio or records, dance, read articles from magazines and discuss. Card clubs were very popular…such as pinochle groups or bridge. Outings with other women could be out to lunch together at a drive in or counter; to an afternoon movie. One could eat or join in the activity at the bowling alley or roller skating rink. Also sunbathing at the local community pool or canal was very popular activity. The late evening popular activity was the drive in movie double feature.
Some of the above socializing activities were with their children.
How the MEN were expected to be- 1950s VS today:
In the fifties the man had pretty much clear cut goals / responsibility.
Whereas women were necessary for home family church and community, Men were necessary for income, and business.
So there was a burden of total responsibility for the family monies, yet an importance of usefulness to the family. Men were expected to go to work and to make enough money to support their family. The man was responsible to make sure there was enough money for all the necessities. Jobs relating to Manufacturing were very prominent. It was an 8 hour workday, with out bringing work home. At home he mowed the lawn was in charge of all outdoor projects, repaired and fixed household items, in charge of the running of the car, drove the car on family outings and trips, mantled put together items, balanced the household books, wrote the checks, played with the children, helped in disciplining the children, and paid the bills.
1950’s Men’s / Boy’s Activities: Boy’s were outdoors a lot. Most homes had a hoop over their garage for basketball play. Other pastimes: bowling league, work on car, workshop projects, camping, fishing, family outings & picnics, motor boating, cruising. Young boys played outside with their toys.
1950’s dating: Boys/ Men were expected to ask the girl / woman for the date; he met with the girl’s family, opened doors, and paid for the date.
Whereas girls were expected to be good, there was not the same degree of expectations upon boys.
The boy could try to kiss the girl or more but he had to be prepared – he might get a slap by the girl for this.
If a boy got a girl pregnant, it was considered the girl’s fault. The boy could be somewhat lifted in status, at least among his male peers. There were not as much consequences to the boy. However, sometimes the families made the boy marry.
Still it was the expectation of society for the man to get married, and then to have children.
The effect of the women’s movement on men; Male chauvinism; divorce; and etiquettes:
Since men are the breadwinners in the 1950’s family, it was more common for the man to have control or most of the power in marriage and family. Sometimes this power was abused, from male chauvinism to different degrees of seriousness.
Divorce: Divorce was not as easy in the fifties. So even if there were problems the family stayed together. They stayed together and worked it out or remained unhappy.
The women’s movement gradually helped change the way society thought about men, women, work, marriage and family.
Present day, the majority of men / women work and share the burden of income; Divorce is an option; women and men are both out of the home and in the workforce. Men and women share some of the same roles. The roles of men are not so clear cut and thus confusions can result.
Etiquettes and men: Some etiquettes, such as opening doors for women, are not always as prevalent as in the 1950’s. Perhaps men see that women can take care of themselves, or are unsure of whether women want doors opened for them.
Men have grown up together with females seeing strong women role models. Whereas some men might see themselves with less power in their relationships than the old family models, others welcome the new relationship - See it as a sharing of the burdens and enjoyment of a partner.
Men’s groups / clubs: Paternal organizations were very popular: Elks, Masons, Knights of Columbus, Shriners; Golf, pigeon club, Rotary.
Notes on ways American Bandstand influenced hair and clothing styles:
1. The number of teens the program reached-viewing audience of 20 million annually
2. Saw teen idols (regular guests on show) with their hair and clothing
3. Saw the regulars each week with their styles and copied them.
4. The styles on bandstand were more sophisticated than some teens experienced in small towns. The styles and makeup on bandstand were from teens that lived in Philadelphia.
5. Viewed the bandstand teens dancing, and what styles looked the best while dancing.
6. Commercials were geared to the teen, make up, hair products for hairstyles and clothing.
7. Saw "couples" and what they wear, influenced what one might wear on a date.
American Bandstand Dancers' Story
What were some of the perfumes of the 1950’s?
As a teen I remember most definitely Evening in Paris which came in a blue bottle.
Other perfumes: Blue Waltz; Yardley's Lily of the Valley, English Rose, & April Violets; Hypnotique & Primitif by Max Factor;
Coty's L'Aimant; Intimate and Aquamarine by Revelon;
Tweed by Lentheric;
Black Rose & Here's My Heart by Goya;
Vent Vert; Ivoire;
Apple Blossom by Helena Rubenstein;
Nirmala by Molinard;
The Beat Generation:
Against: middle class values.
For: Art, Literature, and Jazz.
Preferred Dress: Khakis or jeans and black turtle neck, often times not pressed.
Wild Ones / Juvenile Delinquents:
Whereas the Beatniks were intellectually oriented and hung out at coffee and jazz houses,
the Wild Ones just wanted to be different from their parents. Preferred wear: Leather Jacket, White T-Shirt, Jeans, and Motorcycle
House appliances, communications, housing, entertainment
TV AND ADVERTISING:
1950's Television became a big source of entertainment to Kid and Adults. Although TV was around in the 40's,
it wasn't until the fifties that it was really appreciated. The TVset
became the center of the living area
with the whole family viewing.
The TV set graduated to a larger size 21 inch. More programs became available,
westerns, variety shows, Saturday morning cartoons. Saturday series such as Fury, Sky King, Roy Rogers...
Then there was TV advertising. Kids wanted to buy Davy Crockett hats, Roy Rogers gun sets, ovaltine..
TV advertising was a great method of selling. The Host of a show would announce a commercial then walk over and
sale the product himself. Then there were the musical jingles that we couldn't get out of our head. Jingles such as
"Brusha Brusha Brusha, Here's the new Ipana" ( a toothpaste ad).. "Halo everybody Halo, Halo Shampoo Halo".
The show themselves were a selling method showing TV families with homes of modern appliances.
The big selling point was "NEW", then "better", or "faster".
The media of Radio delivered the music of rock n roll to the teen audience.
Now they had something of their own.
This intro of rock n roll started a whole generational change.
Now teens were seen as well as heard, starting with this music.
Teen seen as well as heard
Radio played the new rock n roll (45's ), and teens ran to buy them.
Manufacturing was producing more products, and magazines were advertising more products . There were more print media ads in magazines such as Movieland and Photoplay. Now there were ads for unnecessary or leisure products. Ads to sell beauty products such as nail polish,
and perfumes ( Evening in Paris).
Car and Travel Ads, girdle ads, movie ads, ads to "send for picture of your favorite movie star"....
Notes on 1950's Magazines
After Depression and Wartime, people wanted to enjoy life, family, and leisure time. Men were back to work and making money, wives were home. The manufactors were producing lots of new products and now
people had money to spend.
They bought homes. Then they bought the modern furnishing and appliances needed to fill the home, things that were advertised in the media.
Again, The big selling points were "NEW"( example new color "pink"), "better", or "faster".
Television, Classic TV Shows and Children’s TV Shows.
TV started in the 1800's but it wasn't until after the war that it became big business. In 1945 there were 56 million radios in the US, but only 16,000 TV sets. There was very little on TV in 1946 and 1947. Some of the popular shows that premiered in 1948-1949: The Milton Berle Show (Note: The biggest star of early TV); Candid Camera (Allen Funt); Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts/His Friends; Original Amateur Hour (Ted Mack); The Ed Sullivan Show; Kukla, Fran and Ollie; The Lone Ranger (Clayton Moore); The Perry Como Show.
The Fifties were the years that TV sets were bought for entertainment in our homes - 42 million households have TV sets by the year 1957.
(1950s TV Sets - photos & info)
For more information on Classic TV Shows and Children’s TV Shows visit my Fifties TV web page.
1950's Ads, Television, Movies & Sponsors
Good webpage resources:
Info on Cigarette commercials
Vintage Cigarette & Tobacco Ads
Commercials Of The 1950's & 1960's
1950's Pan Am Advertisements
NOTES: Most stars in movies smoked ...it was considered cool....so the prominence of smoking in the movies was a general way of advertising.
Lots of beer, Pepsi, and Coca Cola ads were on tin signs and clocks - displayed at grocery stores.
Stars of TV programs would perform in the commercial (sometimes live), and Movie Stars in print ads.
As I remember those times it seems as if the jobs were mostly given to teenager by family and friends. And it seems as if the boys had more choices. Here are some of the kinds of jobs
my girlfriends and I had: Baby sitting probably the no. 1 job of teen girls.
Got jobs ironing clothes for family and neighbors...no.2 most popular job.
Clean house for family, or neighbor. My teen brothers: worked on the family farm bailing hay, milking cows, stacking hay,
cleaning stables, driving tractor, etc. Also found jobs on friend's farms doing same types of jobs. Some of their friends in town,
worked as bus boys for their family restaurant. Most other jobs of
teen girls and boys were in their family's business.
Then there were the teenage idols, teen movie stars and singers (boys and girls who were paid for acting and singing).
Ex. Frankie Avalon, Fabian, see my website: The Fifties Teen Idols Example; Teen movie star Sandra Dee see my website: Sandra Dee
Notes on Prices / Income: 1956-1957
Coke in 1956 10 and 15 cents; Gallon of Gas 1956 23 cents per gal; Movie 1956 about 50 cents, the Drive- in Movie carload 1 dollar; Glass of Milk about 15 cents; Ice cream Soda about 23 cents; Hamburger 15-18 cents and 6 for a dollar; Fries 10 and 20 cents.
2. 1955 McDonald’s Menu:
Hamburger 15 cents, fries 10 cents, Coke 10 cents and 15 cents, Coffee 10 cents.
3. Income, average medium for four person family 1956: $5,319. More info/other 1950's years: 1950s income
Additional 1950's prices and Salary
1950: Average Salary $2992, Eggs 72 cents per dozen, Milk 21 cents a quart, Round steak 94 cents (lb), Coffee 55 cents (lb), Oranges 52 cents per dozen, Butter 60 cents (lb), Milk 21 cents (qt), Magazine 15 cents, Detective book with chapters 20 cents.
1951: Van Heusen Sport shirts - short sleeve $3.65 or long sleeves $4.95
1953: Manhattan brand Ties $1.50-$3.50
1956: Blue Bell Wrangler Jeans for all the family – $2.98-$3.98, Lee Denim Jeans from $4.95.
1957: Stockings by Cameo $1.35-$1.65,Perma-Lift Control Pantie (Girdle) $5.95, Bra $2.50
1958: Home price on West Coast $14,300, $550 down, 3-BDRMs, 1 1/2 baths.
1959: New Car $2,250 New House $12,400 Gallon of Milk $1.00 Gallon of Gas 25 cents, Loaf of Bread 20 cents,Minimum Wage: one dollar.
1950's: High level Santa Fe train 66 dollars one way Chicago – Los angeles.
As I remember a dress during the 1950’s ran about $5 - $10.
1960: 1960 prices - The cost of a date.
1. What was the most predominately used transportation for middle to lower class families?
The automobile, mostly Ford and Chevy.
2.Did many of the families in the 50's have cars compared to families of today?
Families today have more cars per household. Typically the middle and lower class had one family car. However: many teen boys could work and purchase a used car to fix.
3.Did only the super rich fly in airplanes? Mostly it was the rich that could afford to fly.
4.How many train stations were present in small towns? In the small towns in my area most would have one train station.
1950's Education: Q. How many students were in each class,
how many grades were there in schools, were boys separate from girls? Etc.
In my grammar school there would range from about 20- 25 students per class. We basically kept the same teacher for subjects. However some years a subject might be taught by a second teacher, the students remained in the same classroom, the second teacher came to that classroom.
There were two 15 minute recess periods, morning and after lunch, also before school. This was unorganized play. The playground had swings, slide, basketball courts, and volleyball courts, tether ball, bars, and baseball diamonds. Equipment was available for use at recess. Favorite games at recess were jacks and hopscotch for the younger girls, and playground gyms and bars. For the older children it was baseball and basketball. Some times a game began before school, continued through each recess.
Near the end of the day there was PE in which there sometimes was an organized game, such as baseball, or basketball, dodge ball and touch football (for the boys).
On rainy days, there were indoor games such as musical chairs, board games. Other times if there were multiple days of rain, then recess would become a break in which we could just walk and talk in the hallways. Sometimes we brought a record player and records and danced at recess times on rainy days.
In my school it went from kindergarten to eight grades. (There were other arrangement such as k-6; 7th and 8th (junior high); 9-12 - this could vary according to district). The younger students were located in one wing of the school, and the older students were located in another wing. There was also separation for outdoor play.
Boys and girls mostly played separately at recess, however at PE sometimes there were coed games, such as baseball and dodge ball.
Each grade had room mothers, who helped at special occasions such as Halloween. They helped out in the classroom and organize treats.
Some subjects of grammar school were Reading, Arithmetic, show and tell, singing of folk songs, musical percussion instruments (such as the triangle and tambourine, maracas, sand paper sound, and cymbals); and Art. Popular learning methods were the use of Flash Cards especially for Adding, Subtraction. Dick and Jane books were the popular reading book.—I still have the state textbook titled Through the Gate – this is part of the California State Series. Some of the reading heading of that book are Perky, The Lost Toys, and my favorite, Gray Squirrel’s Party. The main Characters in that reading book are Susan, Bill, and Perky the dog.
New immigrant students who were still learning English were assigned to be assisted by other students, this was very successful and the learning was very fast.
There was a Christmas show in which each class presented a song. There was an annual school carnival sponsored by the Mother’s Club.
In Junior High boys and girls participated separately during Physical Education times.
One Exception was social dance class in which boys and girls learned dances and etiquette surrounding dancing. Also on rainy days boys and girls shared the gym.
Here is a link to photos of 1950s sports clothing for High School Physical Education class and team athletic wear.
Mother’s Clubs were active at grammar schools. Parents supported discipline at school, very rarely was there a dispute over discipline.
School and more on 1950s Education:
Proper and prim could be called the catch phrase of the 1950's that applied to school also. Students were expected to listen and learn - that was their duty and expectation from their parents. It was the duty of the Teacher to teach and keep order in the classroom. It was the duty of the student to learn and follow the rules. Parents were involved in the school and supportive of the school and teachers. The clothing and hair styles of both students and teachers were conservative (except some in the very late 1950's). See 1950's photos of students and grownups in mostly proper attire and hairstyles 1950s Photos.
Another example of a 1950's state textbook is Through the Gate by Nila Banton Smith. Many children used this book learning to read.
For more information see headings 1950's Education and 1950's teenager and civics class on this page.
Also there is some info about teachers and authority under the heading of Parents & children growing up in the 1950's.
Religion in the 1950’s:
Q. Was the bible the top selling book? Q.Would you tell me a little about religion back in that time?
I would imagine that the Bible was the top seller because people would refer to it that way. Soldiers serving in World War II requested bibles. Religion was most likely important to those loved ones at home. These loved ones and soldiers were the Mothers and Fathers of families in the 1950’s. In the Fifties families attended church. Also the family bible was important and was used (probably more than present days)to record special events in the family, such as births, deaths, marriages, and sometimes( like in my family) special secret family recipes and remedies.
The bible was the biggest book in the house, ornate with beautiful pictures. Children knew of the Bible’s importance; and knew to treat its cover and pages with respect.
With TV being in its infancy the bible was the most found and perhaps referred to book in the home.
In the Fifties, (late 40s and early 60s,) most of the blockbuster epic movies were Bible stories, stories written around Bible times or religious-themed movies.
Top Bible Movies
Religion had more of an influence in people’s everyday lives.
I was raised in the Catholic religion, and I remember some different comparisons between the 50’s and now.
I believe that more families attended church every Sunday - weekly during special religious calendar times.
It was typical for households to have religious displays such as a framed picture of Jesus, Jesus on the cross, rosary beads, and the bible out on the family coffee table.
Some even set up a shrine with these and other articles in their home.
Prayers were said by children nightly. Attendance at catechism / religious training was up. In fact many times children were let out of school early to be picked up by church organizations for religious training. The vocation of Priest or Nun was a field highly respected, and therefore parents were happy to have their children consider those vocations. In the Fifties there was an abundance of Priests to serve in Parishes. Presently those vocations are perhaps not as respected by some, and there is a big shortage of young girls and boys training in those vocations.
Perhaps religions presently cater more to their people, which can be good or bad.
There are more time offerings for church, some services in different languages to reach out to communities such as Spanish, Portuguese, and Vietnamese.
The Church Service: The Catholic service was in Latin during the 1950’s, with priest facing the Alter. Now the service is in English with priest facing out to the parishioners.
Fashions for church: It was mandatory for women to wear a covering over their head in church - this could range from an ornate hat to a hanky pinned to hair. The fashions for church were much more formal. Women and girls wore dresses, gloves, and dress shoes. Men wore suits or white shirt with dress pants, dress shoes and ties. Note: jeans were not considered wear for church.
Sundays: Stores were not open on Sundays. There were not convenient stores. About the only thing open on Sunday was gas stations. Sunday was a day to go to religious service, and a real day of rest. Many religions considered it a sin to work on Sunday
1950s Party Ideas (on a budget):
Look at the web pages with 1950's products to get ideas.
The links down the right column of this page are good resources for 1950's products ('FIFTIES PARTY IN A BOX' is an especially good resource for cutouts). Some products such as cut outs are reasonably priced, but you can also just look to get good decorating ideas.
Also down the right column are 1950s Stand-ups of Elvis and a Wurlitzer Jukebox, these two links will lead you to other stand-ups. You could hang pictures of teen idols and movie stars popular in the 1950's.
If you want you have my permission to print out pictures of the fifties teen idols from my Boomers Pinups web pages(as long as it is for non commercial use, and not for use on another website) ...for your 1950's party.
Here is a list of my 1950's web pages where you will find lots of pictures on the 1950's stars:
Boomers Pinups, The Fifties Teen Idols
Boomers Pinups of Elvis
1950's Movie Stars & Singers
Also you use some board games popular in the 50's to decorate, YEARBOOKS, Album covers from that era....or even the Album Grease.
You could display 1950's clothing or items that anyone might have around still such as saddle shoes, letter sweater, poodle skirt, metal skates, 45 records, etc.
Fifties Party Games:
1. Conversation - Divide the gang into 2 even teams, team A and Team B. Team A is given a topic to talk about, ad lib. Team B can clap its hands anytime it wants another member of team A to take up the conversation, where the first one must leave off. Meanwhile the players try to work a phrase into the conversation that they cooked up beforehand. When the time is up, the other team gets a chance to guess what the phrase is, Team to guess the most, wins.
2. A version of "Spin the Bottle: It’s played in the usual circle with a bottle in the middle on the floor. But instead of kissing, the person who's it, will have to do a particular thing (this is something that you can choose for your won version of this party game). For instance you might try spin the Bottle to see who gets to be couples for the next dance. That way you get everybody acquainted.
3. Charades: Have pencil and papers handy to write titles of songs, movies, books, or just plain words. Divide the group into two teams, and give each member of the teams a chance to act one out.
4. Play-reading: Have several copies of one-act plays available and gather the gang around for a reading. Give a book to each couple and read the play off the cuff. This works well for poetry too, especially if you can get some of that way-out stuff, the funny poems, and ham it up.
5. Musical chairs.
Thanks to all of you who wrote and asked such good questions. Hopefully the materials will be of use to others seeking 1950's information.
This material is not for use on other web pages, however here are some
text links and Banners if you would like to link to Boomers Pinups.
NOTE: MATERIALS ON THIS PAGE ARE THE OWNERSHIP OF THE AUTHOR
UNDER COPYRIGHT- NOT FOR USE ON OTHER WEBSITES.
Copyright © Carolyn Passalaqua ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Boomers Pinups 1950s pages:
Sonny and Cher
1950's Movie Stars
1950's 1960's Photos
50s Actress Fashions
1950's Mens Fashions
Pop Culture History
Fifties Teenagers Dancing
Fifties Teen Idols video
Top Movie Classics
Favorite 50s songs
Fun Fads & Fashion from the 1950's.
Complete poodle outfits, or a la carte
Retro Bowling Shirts & Fun Gifts
1950's Retro Candy Gift Box-Decade Box Gift Basket - Classic 50's Candy - 9.75OZ (276g)
FIFTIES STYLE WIGS -1950'S
Mom's 1950s recipes
Adventures of Superman - The Complete First Season
SHOES - FIFTIES STYLE
Saddle Shoes - Men's (Bone/Navy)
Saddle (Black/White) Adult Shoes
White Buck Shoes - Men's
50s Wing tip Shoes(Black/White)
Vans - Classic Slip-On Core Classics (Black & White Checkered) - Footwear
Converse - Chuck Taylor All Star Slim Canvas Hi (Black) - Footwear
The original, now a defined style of it's own!; more colors.
Sonny and Cher
The best lip sync songs & a great gift for all ages.
ELVIS MONOPOLY GAME
Fashions of a Decade, 1950's
Marilyn Monroe Standups
Elvis Cardboard Standups
Great Cutouts for Parties!
Life-size Cardboard Standup
Tin Sign Ad
Buy at AllPosters.com
Marilyn Monroe New-U
Tin Sign Ad
Buy at AllPosters.com
ELVIS TRIVIA GAME - GAMES
Rocker,Greaser, Car Hop, Rock Legend, 50's Starlet...Wigs: Beehive, Pigtails, Pompadour, Flip wig..
VINYL TURNTABLES - FIFTIES STYLE
A Robotic Maid
Live like the Jetsens
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Everything for your Fifties Party!