Archive for April 2013

The World In 1957   2 comments

Thanks to the despicable invention miracle of Facebook, I have been noting the recent and inexorable parade of classmates’ birthdays.  Like millions of others I type in the obligatory, “Happy Birthday, your name here!”.  A somewhat heartfelt gesture and momentary delay of my second swig of coffee.  Actually, birthday wishes are deeply ingrained in my morning routine of finding ways to avoid doing actual work.  After all, if there are no birthdays on which to comment I must find another 5-second avoidance activity to fill the gap.  Come to think of it, it practically ruins my day.  This is why I never follow through on threats to drop Facebook.  I’d have to do more actual work.  (To all my friends and relatives to whom I have recently wished a Facebook happy birthday, it was a heartfelt gesture.  No, really, seriously.  Ah, hell.)

I digress.  So as we stare down the barrel of our 56th such celebration I can’t help but wonder what life was like back then (or way WAY back then as my kids would say).  This happens once a year, and I really have no control over it.  I do Google image searches (I’m too ADD to read the content) and click on whatever catches my eye.  This usually elicits a bevy of Holy shit! responses.  This year I have the urge to share those Holy shit! findings.  Sorry.

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The world was, shall we say, a bit nuclear obsessed in 1957.  The U.S. detonated multiple nuclear bombs in the Nevada desert and even brought in Marines for a little live-action training.  Many of these blasts were within 65 miles of Las Vegas, which in that great American free-enterprise tradition created . . .

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. . . Atomic Blast Weekends in Las Vegas!  (Note mushroom cloud in background).  Yes, you too could pay premium rates for a room facing the test grounds on a scheduled blast weekend!  Radioactive fallout worries?  Wimps.  Go to the Jersey Shore if you can’t take a little radioactivity.

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But wait!  It gets better.  America had a “Miss Atomic Bomb” in 1957!  Her name was Lee Merlin, a Copa Room showgirl complete with cotton mushroom-cloud bathing suit.  Hah!  Take that Soviet Union!  You may have conducted 4 atmospheric nuclear tests in April alone, but our Miss Atomic Bomb was surely better than any furry-hatted Kremlin babe.

On a side note and as a photographer, I really appreciate the camera angle and use of perspective in this photo.  I mean, not only is “Miss Atomic Bomb” much more shapely and beautiful than anything the communists could conjure up, but she is apparently 300 feet tall and designed to strike fear into the hearts of every living Bolshevik.  Take that, comrades!

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Speaking of beautiful women (this is where I switch over to saying “beautiful women” instead of “babes”, lest my wife point out the error of my ways), just like today they were used to sell cars back in 1957.  Except, you know, with more clothes on.  A lot more clothes on.  And pantyhose.  And goofy poses.  Come to think of it, what the hell?

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On April 13th (Hi Denise!) the US Postal Service temporarily halted Saturday deliveries because of . . . wait for it . . . lack of funds!  On April 15th Congress appropriated $41 million (hah! chump change) and Saturday delivery was restored.  And who says history doesn’t repeat itself?  In the words of Yogi Berra (who was still with the Yankees in 1957), “It’s deja vu all over again.”

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In 1957 the schools in a place called Little Rock were desegregated.  As we all know (or should know), President Eisenhower sent several thousand National Guard soldiers to Little Rock to assist the kind citizens of Arkansas in complying with federal law.

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But in other news, Elvis decided to renovate Graceland and installed this metal music gate.  Because, why not?  When you’re Elvis, it’s what you do.

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Speaking of music and 1957, these guys were in a band.  It was called The Quarrymen.  Anyone else think McCartney looks like Alfalfa from The Little Rascals?

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And some guy named Ted Geisel published a book.  One that thankfully was the beginning of the end of the excruciating “See Spot run” method of teaching reading.

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But we were still a cranky nation because of things like this.

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So we held parades in Washington D.C. to show that we had things that could fly, too.

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And because we were really afraid of this . . .

A Swissman in Moscow Leonard Gianadda, 1957 (14)

. . . and of looking like this cheerful bunch . . .

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. . . the House Un-American Activities Committee held the author of this play in contempt of Congress for not ratting out his friends.  But he probably didn’t notice . . .

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. . . because he was married to this woman at the time.  I mean, God bless America!  Amiright men?

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But all’s well that ends well because we had a new toy called “The Pluto Platter”!  Of course those heathens in 1958 ruined it by rebranding it as the “Frisbee”.  But we 57’ers know the real name.

Happy Birthday, (your name here!) to everyone else born in that golden year of 1957!  The good ol’ days?  I’m not so sure.  And Holy shit!, do I feel old . . .

Posted April 12, 2013 by ~ Bruce in Signs of the Times, Uncategorized