1950’s America – Dreaming Of Simpler Times

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by J. Lee

Simpler times of days gone by!

Who wouldn’t want to revisit the past when times were simple, considering all the turmoil in our daily lives and throughout our world? Many were not around to experience it. We can dream about it as we watch television re-runs.

Merriam Webster – Yesteryear; time gone by; especially: the recent past

I long for simple times such as in the days of  I love LucyThe Andy Griffith ShowFather Knows Best, The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Rifleman. TV shows like those provided ‘G rated’ entertainment with a positive message.

I dream of living in a towns like Mayberry, Springfield, New Rochelle and North Fork. Themes were about respect for the law, respect for parents, respect for family members and respect for neighbors.

There were picnics, fishing, stone skipping, swimming at the pond, bicycles, roller skates, hula hoops, slumber parties, sharing 45 RPM and 78 RPM records, home cooked meals and fresh apple pie.

VIDEO: Father Knows Best – Jim and Margaret Anderson (Robert Young and Jane Wyatt) return home to find their children Bud, Kathy and Betty (Billy Gray, Lauren Chapin and Elinor Donahue) asleep. Taken from the classic 1950s TV comedy series Father Knows Best.
VIDEO: Dick Van Dyke ShowLongest Laugh – ‘Switched at Birth’ episode

It was a time when parents disciplined their children. It was a time when children respected their parents. Pouting and tantrums were not allowed. They were rewarded with an allowance for doing their chores and getting good grades.

VIDEO: Andy Griffith – “Opie and the Spoiled Kid” in 5 minutes


I dream of a time when having a father and mother in the household is the norm again. A time where there is no gender confusion about being a boy or being a girl.  A time when tomboys are not automatically branded a boy.

I yearn for a time when schools taught students how to think; not what to think. They taught reading, writing and arithmetic. Students were held back and not automatically moved forward. Children learned social skills unlike children of today whose primary communication is through texting.

Teens for the most part were wholesome. There was going steady and getting pinned. The greatest discipline issues were passing notes in class, talking in class and chewing gum.

Physical education kept children active and healthy. Youth enjoyed playing sports. Athletes were given trophies for winning. They weren’t given a participation trophy like those given to today’s athletes. Winning was an achievement and something to strive for.

There were artistic activities like band, cheerleading, drill teams and school plays. Being nerdy was not viewed badly.

There was American Bandstand. Teens loved school dances, sock hops and proms. Dancing was fun and innocent unlike today’s dancing that simulates sex.

The Original Stroll – February 1958 – On a local television dance show in Idaho in February 1958, local teens dance to one of the biggest dance crazes out of the late-1950’s called The Stroll, which originated from American Bandstand. This dance was performed in a line formed with boys on one side and girls on the other, creating an isle between them. The boy and girl in the front of the line would meet up in the middle, grab hands and stroll their way down the line, as the other kids in the line would move their way up to the front using the same dance steps that the couple moving down the line would use, but move from side to side instead. When the first couple made their way down the line, another couple would meet in the middle and stroll down the isle.


There was modesty in actions, clothing and speaking. Now nothing is left to the imagination.

Manners were prevalent in society. Greetings were cordial and polite.

Cost of living was manageable. Gasoline was inexpensive while service stations serviced your car. Attendants pumped your gas; they provided under the hood service and they washed your windows.

Transcript of Cost of Living in the 1950s
The average income for the middle class citizen in 1950 was $2,992 annually. This would be approximately $29,000 today. The cost of gas in the 1950s was $0.27 a gallon. The cost of gas in the 1950s was $0.27 a gallon. This was equal to $2.67 today.
Basic groceries
– American Cheese $0.45 lbs.
– Banana $0.27 2lbs.
– Milk $0.14 gallon
– Eggs $0.79 dozen
– Bread $0.12 loaf
1950’s Prices
The average price for a gallon of gas in 1950 was 18 cents with the price at the end of the decade being 25 cents so it was a bargain to buy gas for 24 cents ten years after 1959.
The average cost of a new car was $1,510 in 1950 and by the end of the decade was $2,200.
Even a Chevrolet Corvette was only $3,631 in 1958. A Cadillac convertible sold for $5,400 in 1959 with a 325 horsepower engine.
Men’s all wool suits sold for only $28.90 in the 50’s while a cotton check dress sold for only $3.29. A one carat diamond ring sold for $399. This one carat diamond ring sells for $4,125 today.

Yes, I dream of a slower-paced time to enjoy life, enjoy my community and a time when living was more affordable.

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