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Old 05-02-2008, 08:59 PM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC (in my mind)
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Conservatives in America paint a very idealistic picture of the 1950s. To them, this was the peak of American civilization. It was the time when prosperity, the nuclear family, and moral values reigned supreme. How close is this image of the 1950s to how things actually were? Was it really the peak of American society?
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Old 05-02-2008, 09:16 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
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I usually see the 50's described as a time of naïveté rather than the "peak of American civilization", or sometimes as a transitional period between the war years and the changes that were to occur in the 60's. I guess I've missed the 50's being regarded as the Golden Age of America.
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Old 05-02-2008, 09:53 PM
Status: "Write me in for POTUS" (set 3 days ago)
 
Location: Near Manito
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I grew up in the fifties. It was a great time to be a kid.

Better than today, I think. But kids are still kids. They want to know what is right. They want to be good.

Sometimes it seems as if our society has cast off its responsibility to protect and teach our kids how to grow up straight and strong and still love life. I remember the fifties as being a time when all those responsibilities were shared, without question, by society as a whole.

The fifties were a great time to be a kid...
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Old 05-02-2008, 10:20 PM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC (in my mind)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yeledaf View Post

Sometimes it seems as if our society has cast off its responsibility to protect and teach our kids how to grow up straight and strong and still love life..
I agree. Today people are too worried about hurting the child's self-esteem to teach them and mold them down the right path. I'm not sure when this started, but its created a domino effect that has morally bankrupt our nation.

I have heard the '50s were the beginning of teen culture as we know today. How was peer pressure in the '50s? Was the pressure to rebel against authority and morals more or less than it is today? What about wealth and poverty?
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Old 05-02-2008, 11:25 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bchris02 View Post
I have heard the '50s were the beginning of teen culture as we know today. How was peer pressure in the '50s? Was the pressure to rebel against authority and morals more or less than it is today? What about wealth and poverty?
An interesting sidebar might be how two of that eras most significant "artistic achievements" were perceived by the teens of that generation and later: Rebel Without a Cause and Catcher in the Rye. As I understand it, both were considered the highest form of truth then ("Yes, that's telling it like it is, that's how we feel."). I read Catcher and watched Rebel some years later and my feelings about the characters in the stories was much less sympathetic. I couldn't relate to the teenage angst of that generation. To me, both characters wallowed in self-pity and petty grievances, while to a teen in the fifties these were characters on a search for honesty and meaning. I'm not saying anyone is wrong either way, just making a comment about how someone's perception can be colored by the times in which they live.
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Old 05-04-2008, 06:08 AM
 
Location: in the southwest
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bchris02 View Post
Conservatives in America paint a very idealistic picture of the 1950s. To them, this was the peak of American civilization. It was the time when prosperity, the nuclear family, and moral values reigned supreme. How close is this image of the 1950s to how things actually were? Was it really the peak of American society?
A couple of the first discussions here in the History forum were lengthy debates about just this question. Unfortunately, I can't remember exactly which thread it was.
Anyway, some social inequities were mentioned:

Racial prejudice and segregation, which were more recognized during the course of the decade. I think it was in the mid-50's when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat. It was also in the mid-50's when Emmett Till was murdered.

Women's rights and the marginalization of women: We still make about 64 cents to a man's dollar, but we've come a way since the 50's.

Economic exploitation: a tricky subject, given our American Dream.
We like to think that ours is a classless society, and the definition of success is subjective.
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Old 05-04-2008, 10:34 PM
 
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I thnik they are referring to the general morals of the americcan family and the generation that made america the power that it became.As far as morls in the predudice ;you really have to look at the world at that time and what was the norm.I am sure taht if they could lok at today they would say that their are alot of problems even worse. All really opinions as looking at say the british empire brings up the same negatives.Thereare in the end are negative how and then.
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Old 05-05-2008, 09:48 AM
 
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Like all decades, the 50s had its highs and lows. It also benefited from being bookended between WWII and the turbulent 60s.

It has a reputation for being somewhat bland and conformist. Was it? Elvis, Beatniks, C. Wright Mills, Jack Kerouac, MLK, Charles & Ray Eames, Otto Preminger, Mid Century Architecture, etc. TV sitcoms from that era portray it as bland, but it actually was a very exciting time.

Family values were probably stronger, but you had less out of wedlock births and this was the first time in a while that economic depression or war was not going to disrupt family life.

Crime was lower, but the police had a lot more power (pre-Miranda) and people probably feared them.

There were also a lot more societal boundaries and rules, both good and bad, such as the Draft, real and defacto Segregation, etc.

But it was when the middle class exploded and the Civil Rights Movement blasted off. Not bad.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:32 AM
 
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Although I enjoyed being a kid in the '50s, it wasn't the golden era that people "misremember" it as. Yes wages were rising, unemployment was low and a working man could support a family on a "living wage". A lot of this was due to pent up demand left over from the depression and WWII, and the vast numbers of skilled, educated (via GI Bill) workers.

I don't think many Blacks looked on it as the golden age, segregation reigned supreme in the south and some parts of the north, non-conformance often got you a "butt kicking" (as happened to some of my Seventh Day Adventist classmates who didn't say the Pledge of Allegiance.

My Mom still fretted over Polio years after we got the Salk vaccine (1st grade for me) particulary as one of our neighbors had Polio.

Crime may have appeared to be lower, but crimes against minorities went unreported, and unreported on! No one noticed the vast numbers of migrant workers unless someone pointed them out to you, we lived on the east coast and there were a lot of them following the seasons.

Minorities picked up for a crime often found out that "you might beat the rap but you won't beat the ride".

OTOH college tuition was a lot lower, in real numbers too.

golfgod
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Old 05-05-2008, 03:08 PM
 
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My grandfather, with only a high school education was able to buy a house, a car and support a wife and four children in the 1950s. This can rarely happen today. As a younger person (27), this is the only thing about the 50s that I really idolize.

Otherwise, when I think 1950s I think about racism, conformity, kids practicing ducking under their desks in the event of nuclear war, McCarthyism, the rise of car centered suburban 'Levittowns', and Italian food being the most "ethnic" food available (actual quote from my father).

The 1950s are generally idolized because it's considered a time of innocence before the political and social upheavals of the 60s. Interestingly, I sense among my own generation a similiar feeling for the 1990s which we see as a time of innocence before Bush, 9/11, and recession.
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