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The American Dream: The 50s (Our American…

The American Dream: The 50s (Our American Century)

by Time-Life Books

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Born in 1952, this book was a trip down memory lane for me. The 50's were a cookie cutter time of unrealistic idealism.

After WWII, the economy was booming, and so were the birth rates. The men in gray flannel suits left to work a 10-12 hour day while at home their lovely wives with beauty parlor smiles and permed hair wore barbie doll high heels when making jello salad.

The suburban driveway contained a 1957 Bel Air Parisian Blue colored Chevrolet or a 1951 Nash Rambler. Perhaps the suburban neighbor two doors down had a pink Ford Thunderbird, and the lucky guy next door might own a 1953 Kaiser Manhattan.

While the man ruled the house, Ike ran the nation as Richard Nixon verbally spared with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev who threatened to bury the US.

As the Soviets placed the worlds first artificial satellite in space, the tiny 184 pound Sputnik heralded a fast- paced race for US power both in the sky and on the land.

While the golden age of TV brought yet more unrealistic expectations right into the living room, Ricky Ricardo and his spunky wife Lucy made us laugh, helping us to forget that as we watched TV, a contractor was building a fall out shelter in the back yard.

While children, in fear of nuclear bombs, ducked and covered under their school desks, when they arrived home either a spam/baked bean casserole, or a Kraft macaroni dinner awaited them after they sat, eyes glued, to the small black and white box reflecting the shows of The Mighty Mouse Playhouse, Howdy Doody, My Friend Flika or Captain Kangaroo.

In the kitchen mom brewed Red Rose tea, licked her S&H green stamps and ordered her latest Tupperware container.

In the 1950's, the social fabric began to change as a mere five years after WWII we became embroiled in another foreign war, this time in Korea. As the Cold War with the Soviet Union escalated, the racial tensions in America, so long at a boiling point, erupted with a fury.

The illusion of a bright shining land of plenty came apart as blacks began to demonstrate and protest to gain what what rightfully theirs, ie the right to attend school, the right to a college education, the right to freedom and the right to drink out of the same fountain as the white !

The illusion that the women's place was in the kitchen, that the black person had a place as long as it was standing in the back of the line and that all power was in the hands of the white man was about to shatter as the 1950's hypocrisy set the foundation for the turbulent 60's and 70's. ( )
4 vote Whisper1 | Mar 7, 2011 |
A nice coffee table but really enjoyable if you grew up in the 50's as I did. ( )
  latinobookgeek | Mar 7, 2007 |
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Examines the politics, suburbia, automobiles, art and entertainment, cold war, television, and sports of the 1950s.

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