What are you thinking when you see a pictures of your parents or grandparents back in 50's? Old black and white photos, people in simple clothing, sitting on the sofas with strange (looks almost shabby!!) upholstery, but, somehow, they seems happy. Life in the early 1950’s was still very strict and simple. Women were still obligated to the status of housewife and men were the main breadwinners in the family. Children, including teenagers, were to be seen and not heard but by the mid-1950’s, that was becoming more difficult because of newfound freedoms, rock and roll music, and other outlets teenagers had available to them.
|Family gathered around the radio|
In USA, segregation and racism was still part of life and although there were some major changes to erase both like in 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation in public schools were unconstitutional, there were still problems forcing blacks to take drastic measures for equality and inclusion like in 1955, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a public bus.
|Rosa Parks arrested in 1955|
|Moscow street in 1950's|
|Protests because of the prosecution of so called "Hollywood Ten" group|
Families lived on frugal means and even those in the west structured investments and adhered to budgets. The youth were influenced by the lyrics and music popularized by Patti Page, Johnnie Ray, Perry Como, Eddie Fisher and Guy Mitchell. Jazz musicians were prominent and seemed to clear the rostrum for change that was to set in by the middle of the decade in the form of Rock and Roll. Families were introduced to a facet of entertainment that reflected their struggles and the irony of the Cold War after a major world war that lasted for 6 long years.
|Typical members of youth street gang in 1950's movies|
Television was welcomed by the 1950s family and also set in a trend of reduced access to theatres. This in turn rippled on to a revolution in the world of cinema. Film making techniques were improvised and developed. Blockbusters and Hollywood biggies like The Robe, The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur were the outcome. Parents and children enjoyed the spectacular attempts made to attract them back to the theatres and viewed films like The Day the Earth Stood Still, The War of the Worlds and Forbidden Planet as reflections of what would be the probable outcome of the growing animosity between the capitalist and communist nations. The dynamics of race and class was never more explored or exploited as they were in the 1950s. Teen violence and rebellion defied the morality and the traditional values that the older generations were tying to cling on to and pass down the ages.
|Hungarian people on the Soviet tank during a short-lived revolution in 1956|
Selection of political events of the 1950s:
- President Truman advised the Atomic Energy Commission to go ahead with the development of the hydrogen bomb.
- Physicist Klaus Fuchs, a communist, was declared privy to the atomic bomb design and construction. He was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment.
- Analyst of the U.S. Department of Justice - Judith Coplon and Valentin A. Gubitchev, a United Nations staff employee were declared guilty of spying for Russia. They were arrested and tried for espionage.
- Marshal Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov declared Russian possession of an atomic bomb, amidst the freshly ignited Cold War.
- President Truman was tipped off that the Kremlin was fast becoming militant and desired world domination. This triggered a U.S. military buildup.
- King of the Belgians, Leopold III, announced his 19 year old son Baudouin successor. Baudouin took over and remained in power until his father's death in 1993.
- Sweden's monarchy shifted from Gustav V to his 66-year-old son, until 1973.
- Britain, France, and the United States declared a tripartite for immediate action if Israel's frontiers were violated. In counter-support, five Arab League Nations signed a security pact, denying the use of the Suez Canal by Israel.
- Iraq's Nuri as-Said annulled the nation's alliance with Britain, within the Baghdad Pact.
- The 395-article Indian Constitution took effect, outlining the structure and powers of the central and state governments.
- A Sino-Soviet treaty pledged joint action against the US and Japan.
- With the communist army of North Korea entering South Korea, the 3 year Korean War commenced. While Josef Stalin ensured that the United States did not aid Chiang Kai-Shek, Dean Acheson the U.S. Secretary of State declared that the United States would not support South Korea.
- UN forces took over Seoul, but were unable to trap the North Korean army. Mao Zedong submitted to Moscow politics and sent Chinese forces across the Yalu. 300,000 Chinese and North Korean forces counter attacked UN lines at the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, inflicting heavy losses. With the retreat of the US troops, the army abandoned, with more than 90,000 civilians from North Korea fleeing the Chinese invasion.
- The United States Government backed the Bao Dai Government of Vietnam during the Vietnam War and supplied arms within a military mission to ensure that the Vietnamese signed a pact of military assistance with France, Cambodia and Vietnam.
- Manchurian emperor Kang Te was released from prison and educated politically.
- Tibet was invaded by Chinese Red Army forces, when the Beijing offer to assure regional autonomy in Tibet was rejected. The Chinese army forged forward through Ladakh, Shanghai and Szechuan. Tibetan monasteries were destroyed and brought on protests from across the globe. Beijing or Peking proclaimed Tibet to be part of China and fanned the cinders of disharmony, domestic and global.
- Senator Joseph McCarthy declared a 'witch-hunt' for communists and fueled political upheaval by referring to the Democrats as 'party to treason'. Sen. McCarthy went on to make baseless and reckless charges against communists who were supposed to be taking over the State Department.
- U.S. Naval Intelligence officer Vincent W. Hartnett and FBI agents Theodore Kirkpatrick and Kenneth Bierly named Red Channels (communists) amidst producers, directors, actors, playwrights, musicians, choreographers and screenwriters, who were barred on suspicion of using the media for communist propaganda.
- In Colombia, right-wing leader Laureano Eleuterio Gómez was elected President after his return from exile in Spain.
- The Puerto Rican Commonwealth Bill declared provisions for an autonomous, self-government. It maintained US economic ties. However, Puerto Rican nationalists demanded independence and President Truman escaped a politically-associated assassination.