62 years ago some things were different while a few things stayed eerily the same.
Born to Ray and June Olmsted on March 26, 1954. My mother says she planned that day because it falls between the two grandmothers’ birthdays. Of course I don’t have memory of World events that year but I do know a little history of the time, especially after some Google research.
In 1954 the World population was 2.728 billion and the USA 163,025,854 compared to today’s 7.405 billion and 324,118,787. Life expectancy was only 69.6 years, today 79. Only added ten years and doesn’t seem that far away. But that doesn’t frighten me near as much as the continuing hateful social attitudes that I truly thought would have long ago become history.
The Civil Rights movement came to a head with Brown v. Board of Education when the US Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional. We may have “come a long ways Baby” but still seem to be arguing over the inequality of people, and life. We are all part of this planet and should be treating each other with the respect deserved. 62 years later and I still see so much hate that it hurts. Hope I live long enough to see this change and people become kind to each other and everything else on this Mother Earth.
The first mass vaccination of children against polio began in 1954. I know from seeing a vaccination log Mom kept that I got that at one time. I’ve survived that so far but do question the validity of many vaccines today. There are times when Western medicine can be helpful yet I believe in active participation involving my health. Just paying attention to the foods and beverages we consume can make a real difference. Since eliminating high-fructose corn syrup and reducing sugar I notice a distinguishable improvement with arthritis and inflammation in joints. 62 years ago my family ate local fresh produce, dairy and meat. Lucky are those who can still do that today. Don’t get me started on GMOs.
|Average yearly income||$4,167||$53,657|
|Federal hourly minimum wage||$.75||$7.25|
|Average cost of new house||$10,250||$300,000|
|Average monthly rent||$85||$1,381|
|Average cost of a new car||$1,700||$33,560|
Yep, things are different. By 1955, the country had pulled out of the previous year’s recession and gross national product (GNP) was growing at a rate of 7.6 percent. I’m no math wiz but thought these numbers rather interesting. Income has been holding relatively steady for the last ten years without an increase in minimum hourly wage since 2009. There has been a lot of fluctuation in the last 62 years. It seems to me that with only a little more than a 10% increase in income and at least a 30% increase in outgo it’s no wonder we can’t make ends meet.
1954 was the year of McCarthyism when the American people feared Communism. Senator Joseph McCarthy was censured, bringing an end to his witch hunt of Communists and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Communist Control Act outlawing the Communist Party in the US. The Vice President was Richard Nixon. Little did we know he’d become President 15 years later.
In 1954 the most popular movie stars in the year’s new releases included Bing Crosby in White Christmas, Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and Kirk Douglas in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. These classics never get old and I’ve seen them all several times and still prefer them over most of today’s movies.
“Hey Kids, What time is it? – It’s Howdy Doody time!” If that rings a bell it could be you lived in one of the 29 million U.S. households with a 1954 television set, double the number in service only three years before. It was the first year for Disney, the Rose Bowl Parade in color, and The Tonight Show hosted by Steve Allen. I grew up watching Father Knows Best, I Love Lucy, and The Jackie Gleason Show. Other than “Bang, zoom, to the moon Alice.” I think these shows didn’t display the kind of violence seen today.
Elvis began his music career. Bill Haley and the Comets played Rock Around the Clock. Marylyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio.
Books published in 1954 include Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming, Lord of the Flies by William Golding (didn’t care for this required reading in high school), and J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: part one and two, The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. After falling in love with Tolkien in high school I had to wait until 2014 for the movie version of The Hobbit originally published in 1937.
When Henri Matisse died in 1954 Pablo Picasso began painting Les Femmes d’Alger (Women of Algiers) in his memory. More surrealism was painted by Salvador Dali when he completed The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory. Compare these to Norman Rockwell’s most widely reproduced Breaking Home Ties featured on the September 25, 1954 cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
Looking back the fashion of the day seems a little restrictive for women with cinched waist-dresses accompanied by a matching often boxy coat trimmed with real fur. Most school age girls weren’t allowed to wear pants, and boys weren’t allowed to wear blue jeans. That dress code was in force until my Junior year in 1970 and then it was anything goes, or almost.
I’ll only list a few of the 1954 changes to products & technology. Texas Instruments announced the development of the first transistor radio. I remember having one of these amazing and seemingly small magical music gadgets when a teenager. Can’t compete with today. The first Burger King opened in Miami, Florida and the TV dinner was introduced by Swanson’s. Not sure either of these were a positive thing. Nash and Hudson merged to form the American Motors Corporation ( AMC ). Funny as my first car was a 1964 Rambler Ambassador convertable manufactured by AMC.
First nonstick pan was produced. General Electric introduced colored kitchen appliances. Play-Doh, Lincoln Logs and the Weaving Loom were invented. I wasn’t allowed anything as messy as Play-Doh, played with my brother’s Lincoln Logs, and made pot-holders with the loom which I then hauled around the neighborhood in a wagon selling to neighbors.
When it comes to outdoor recreation the gear may have changed some since 1954 but hopefully the attitude of spending time in nature hasn’t. Thankfully my parents introduced me to camping at a young age.
What kind of changes have you experienced throughout life.
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