The 1950s were the “Happy Days” because it was a time of economic prosperity, technology development, new entertainment, new fashion and family growth. The 1950s was a great time. The 50’s are known for its newness and happiness. New technology was being created and people thought it was exciting. Going from having black and white TV to colored TV is like you seeing the IPhone 12 right now. Most people would be fascinated and excited to see its features. That’s how people in the 1950s felt.
After World War Two, the Soviet Union, the ally of the United States, turned into the enemy. As soon as the war ended the United States dismantled and disengaged most of its armed forces. However, the Soviet Union did not. The Soviet Union planned on spreading Communism across vast areas. Communism in simple words is where the government controls all decisions. Meaning that citizens will give up many of their freedoms (Lindop 6-7). Towards the end of WW2, the U.S. and Soviet Union both tried to occupy Korea. The U.S took control of South Korea while the Soviets took control of North Korea, establishing the thirty-eighth parallel of latitude. When Trygve Lie, the first secretary-general of the United Nations heard that North Korea invaded South Korea, he simply stated, ‘“This is war against the United States”’ (Lindop 12). On September 15, 1950, Us Marines assaulted a South Korean port and later the North Koreans retreated after heavy fire. Having a win, South Korea was once again an independent free nation (Lindop 13-14). In the year 1950, Dr. Klaus Fuchs who was one of the scientist who helped create the atomic bomb, confessed to revealing the secrets on how to build the bomb to the Soviet Union. He also confessed to spying. Although many Americans were worried about their neighbors and others being communist in the U.S., many also felt a sense of security along with the vulnerability because, “Such behavior was common during this period of fear of communism known as the Red Scare” (Lindop 24). Some Americans felt secure that the United states was reacting and investigating others about spying and communism. They put their trust into the government that it would be taken care of. Even though the politics were not at its height, the political aspects didn’t detract too much from the domestic happiness of the 1950s.
The economy of the 1950s boomed and showed good times. According to Lindop, “Large numbers of Americans enjoyed prosperity in the 1950s…Personal incomes more than doubled between 1950 and 1960, from $2,992 in 1950 to about $6,000 in 1960. The number of people who held jobs rose from about 53 million in 1950 to more than 70 million by 1960” (Lindop 45). The economy flourished and took to new levels of prosperity. Americans of the 50s enjoyed this progress that the United States was taking on. Also looking up to the fifties is historian Harold Evans, “‘Even the Americans taste for [excess] was stretched by the nature of the good times in the fifties. There had been nothing like it before in the history of the world”’ (Lindop 45). The 1950s was one of the most significant time periods of American history. It stood out compared to the previous decades that consisted of great depression and world wars. Stock markets rose and became a high success, and industries such as automobiles, steel, and oil expanded and became even more successful (Lindop 45). In the mid 1900s many stores were now giving the people options of store credit cards. In 1950 a credit card that could be used for more than one store was invented (Lindop 47). This made the buying of goods more successful, payments easier, and was more convenient for the American citizen. In 1959, two more states were added to the United States. In 1867, Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. Many people saw no use in the land for the U.S., but later an abundance of gold and oil was found in the land. January 3, 1959, Alaska became the forty-ninth state and added another proud star to the American flag. Seven months later Hawaii became the fiftieth state of the Unites States of America. In the 1950s Hawaii became a part of major manufacturing and tourist industries. On August 21, 1959, it became a state and added another stare to the American flag giving the flag its current look and design (source).
The cultural aspects of the 50s portrayed a sense of happiness. Music and fashion took on a new form. There were many legends and idols that rose in the 50’s such as Elvis Presley, J. P. Richardson, Richie Valens, Patsy Cline, Bill Haley, and Chuck Berry. Rock and Roll set up the stage for all music in the future. Elvis was the idol of rock and roll. Showing hip movements while singing thrilled teen girls and shocked their parents. He was loved and adored by millions across the nation (Lindop 108). Elvis made many people happy and many had a great time listening and dancing to his music. It was new to the parents who grew up in the great depression. But the teens loved it because it gave them a sense of independence. Chuck Berry was one of the most influential people in the history of Rock and Roll. John Lennon from the Beatles said, ‘“If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry”’ (Lindop 109). In 1956 Chuck Berry introduced the dance move called the “duck walk.” His performances were known as high energy and fun making crowds in the 50s go wild. Elvis and Chuck are just two people of hundreds that had an everlasting effect on millions of people in the 1950s. Most people in the 50’s found pride in their new style. According to Sarah Kennedy, the hourglass was at its finest, and the idea of a feminine look became the model example. Supporting this look was the construction of wires, metal framed breast cups, and padding in women’s wear. To go along with this structure of clothes were velvet, sequins, spandex, satin, and gold lamé to add flashiness. Postwar rationings ended and a new feeling of abundance took place (Kennedy 146-147). “Thin metal boning made it possible to put ‘invisible’ corsetry inside swimsuits to really accentuate the body yet at the same time retain a structured shape that provided the necessary modesty. Fabrics mirrored corsetry and cut in presenting the curvy silhouette” (Kennedy 148). Exaggeration of looks were at its biggest. The 50s were about new ideas and people were excited about this new look that had the world buzzing. The 50’s was in the worlds face and people loved it. The fashion was created to make women feel beautiful in their own skin.
Technology took on new forms in the 1950s also making it known as the “nifty fifties.” There was an explosion of new technologies. Housewives now have more time to themselves because of the labor-saving appliances such as the vacuum, the electric juicer, and washing machines, and portable TV dinners. The vacuum made it easier to remove dirt from places. The refrigerator now allowed foods to stay fresh for longer periods of time. Air conditioning was spreading into the household of U. S. citizens. “America enjoyed the highest standard of living achieved by any society in history” (Newman 545). From the start of 1950 eight million cars were made every year. “By 1958 about 68 million cars and trucks were in use, including more than one automobile for every household” (Lindop 40). The National Defense Highway Act of 1956 deeply benefited Americans by the construction of 41,000 miles of freeways and highways (Lindop 41). Americans could now travel long distances to visit family, national parks, historic sites and travel faster and more efficiently, without as many stops and lights (Lindop 41). The population of the United States was now younger. The improvements of medicine now allowed women in 1950 to live to the age of seventy-one, twenty years more than a woman could live in 1900. A man in 1950 lived from the age of forty-eight to now sixty-five in 1950. Also about twenty years longer. The Polio Vaccine was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk. There was a decrease in cases by about 97%. Mom’s were no longer scared to send their children to crowded events or community pools (Newman 38). Penicillin was used many times throughout the fifties. “By the mid-1950s, scientist had introduced many other antibiotics to treat diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and rheumatic fever. Other medical accomplishments included organ transplants, advances in cancer research, the use of laser beams in surgery, and the production of synthetic (artificial) DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid, which carries genetic information in living things)” (Newman 38). Leave it to Beaver showed a well off close family who was happy. Sets in the 50’s became more affordable and in 1953 colored TV was now becoming available to households in the U.S. It’s amazing how technology and science improved the lives of the people of the 1950s! The advancements in technology were huge and the economy was booming. It was a time of prosperity.
Families were now closer, defined in a different way, and were now starting at younger ages. Women were getting married shortly after high school. After World War II huge increases of birth was called the baby boom. From 1946-1964 seventy-six million babies were born in the United States during the baby boom. People were spending money on their families showing the economy was flourishing and they wanted the best for their families. Post war good times were reflected in parents attitudes towards their children becoming more relaxed (Lindop 52). Their children were raised in a prosperous economy in the 50s and given chances their parents weren’t given at those ages. “Parents who had grown up during the Great Depression were a generation well acquainted with poverty. Millions had grown up without the security of a home or a parent with a job. By the 1950s, as adults with jobs in a prosperous economy, they were able to indulge their children in ways they themselves had not experienced” (Lindop 52). Families advice became more affectionate and showed more love between families as seen in one of the bestselling book of the decade called COMMON SENSE BOOK OF BABY AND CHILD CARE which the author Dr. Spock advised parents to “…hug and kiss their children” (Lindop 52). The 1950s is where the family really developed (Lindop 52).
People were happy because their loved ones cane back home from WW2, and new technologies were being created. Just because the 50’s were a new start to the future of the US, doesn’t mean that there were not any problems. The world has never been perfect. But, people were happy. The United States economically and socially flourished. Economics, social, and culture are all indications of happy days in the United States. People were happy at home. Only politics were not happy. It was a really good time for families. The point is not to argue that the 1950’s were perfect, but to argue that they are prosperous and the happiest of days. Especially compared to the other decades. Everyone in the 50’s were excited for the “modern” and “new” technology. If you’re happy you’re happy. People had great prosperity and many happy moments. Happy moments are happy moments. And the people of the 50’s had many of them.