1950s four

The 1950s, four



mood fabulous sweep/swept/swept
era altar (2) time-saving
post- reaction meet the need
churn apply (2) consumer
satisfy newlywed grow/grew/grown
joyful defense meet/met/met
warn military responsibility
robust Cold War build/built/built
far out supplies appetite (2)
atomic paycheck straight up
factory manicure all-time high
rush churn out send/sent/sent
rate railroad take/took/taken
rural in droves construction
urban efficient buy/bought/bought
appeal area (2) leave/left/left
navy security conveniences
waste countless mass production
decade mass (2) keep down
cost sawmill collectively
mill have fun settle down
crowd inner city standardize
neat amenities down (payment)
focal reach (2) focal point
devote point (3) encourage
role cheerful homemaker
media idealize embrace (2)
blight maintain know/knew/known
boom poverty generation
sense common common sense
care suggest uniformity
idyllic influence household
lawn leisure anticipate
fit (2) worship place of worship
desire exactly fit right in
civic flow (2) unchecked
sprawl saw (2) natural resources
clout pleased affordable
fund suburb guidebook






It was called the Atomic Age and the Fabulous Fifties. Swept away was the gray mood of the war years; this was an era when Americans had fun.

This joyful mood came in part from the robust post-war economy. Factories were churning out products to satisfy the growing consumer appetite in America, and to meet the needs of a post-war Europe. The defense industry kept military supplies flowing in reaction to the Cold War. And the nation’s building straight up in the cities and far out into the country.

America’s economy was the biggest in the world.

With job security, a good paycheck and no military responsibilities, for many the time was right to settle down and get married: millions rushed to the altar, sending marriage rates to an all-time high.

Home builders anticipated the needs of newlyweds and young families: they built new suburbs that appealed to countless first-time homebuyers. Bigger families left urban areas in droves to enjoy modern homes with the latest time-saving conveniences.

Among the most famous housing developments were the Levittown communities. Navy builder William Levitt took what he had learned about efficient, military construction and applied it to the mass production of homes. To keep down costs and maintain uniformity, Leavitt bought his own forest, sawmill and railroad line; then standardized production and built thousands of factory style homes.

It was exactly what many young families wanted: a neat affordable place to live — ninety dollars ($90) down and fifty-eight dollars ($58) a month to buy a two-bedroom, one-bath house with modern amenities . . . well within reach of the new middle-class.

The 1950s home was the focal point of family life. There, women devoted their time to being good wives and mothers the role of cheerful homemaker was strongly encouraged even idealized in media imagers.

More than any other decade, motherhood was embraced: between 1945 and 1964 roughly seventy six million babies were born in the United States. Collectively known as baby boomers, it is the largest generation in the nation’s history.

Unlike earlier generations this one came with a guidebook: Dr. Benjamin Spock’s Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. In it Dr. Spock suggested parents relax and have fun with their kids. His influence made children the center of the 1950s household.

In the suburbs families could live a seemingly idyllic life: well manicured lawns; safety for children; fun, leisure activities and good neighbors that all fit right in. With their own post office, schools, shopping centers and places of worship, there is no need or desire to return to the crowds and complexities of cities.

Not everyone was pleased with the growth. Urban planners warned against unchecked sprawl and wasting natural resources.

And in the cities as White’s took their economic clout out of urban areas, funding for civic improvements left too. Many inner cities became blighted. Those outside of the financial boom of the 1950’s remained in declining, urban areas with growing poverty and crime.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *



1. America in the 1950s was different from the 1940s and 1930s. True or false?

2. Was the US economy in the 1950s booming, stable or in recession? Was it based on high-tech?

3. Was life easy, difficult or normal?

4. Describe families and family life during the 1950s.

5. What sort of accommodation did many or most Americans have?

6. In 1950s, most women attended university then worked outside the home. Is this right or wrong?

7. According to Dr. Benjamin Spock, should parents be strict with their children?

8. How does the video portray life in the 1950s? Was it very idyllic, harsh time, both or in between?
A. What is your thoughts and opinion of the 1950s (in the United States)?

B. According to your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, when was the best decade, the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s?

C. What decade or time period would you like to live in?

D. What might happen in the future?

E. What should people do? Should they try to live like people did in the 1950s?

Comments are closed.