WWII has been over for a few years and America, having kicked the crap out of Germany and Japan, sits on the “summit of the world,” as Churchill put it. The economy is booming and so are the babies, with around four million being born each year. Unemployment and inflation are low and wages high. People are moving to the suburbs in record numbers and Fonzie is president.
But it’s not all sock hops and shiny new Chevys. The specter of communism and the threat of nuclear war lurk in the background like so many cockroaches in the wall. So too is the civil rights movement beginning to stir – peaceful now, but setting in motion events that will change the country forever.
BUT…that’s a story for next week. Right now it’s time to grease your hair, fluff your poodle skirt and rock around the clock. Here’re some highlights of the ’50s.
Jan 17: Eleven masked bandits steal $2.8 million from Brinks Security in Boston’s North End. At the time, it was the country’s largest-ever robbery, and remained Boston’s biggest theft until October 17, 2004, when Dave Roberts stole second base in game 4 of the American League Championship Series.
June 25: North Korea, backed by the USSR and China, invades South Korea, kicking off the Korean War. From beyond the grave, Hitler suggests North Korean Leader Kim Il-Sung was just in the mood for some Seoul food. (Hitler has gotten quite punny in hell.)
Feb 27: U.S. ratifies the 22nd Amendment, limiting presidents to two terms. From beyond the grave, FDR vetoes it and proposes his Even Newer Deal to build monorails across America.
March 29: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for passing atomic secrets to the USSR during the war. New York Magazine features them in its April 11, 1951 issue, Six NYC Power Couples Getting it Done.
Oct 15: CBS premieres beloved sitcom I Love Lucy, about the wacky hijinks of a plucky bandleader and his latex sex doll.
Feb 6: Britain’s Princess Elizabeth becomes queen upon the death of her father, King George IV.
Nov 1: U.S. tests the first hydrogen bomb on the Pacific island of Elugelab in Enewetok Atoll. The bomb was code-named “Ivy Mike,” in an apparent effort to make the 82-ton thermonuclear warhead seem less threatening.
Nov 4: General Dwight D. Eisenhower decisively beats Adlai Stevenson with a 442-89 electoral college victory to become president. Stevenson maintains he won the popular vote.
March 5: Soviet leader Joseph Stalin dies and joins Hitler in hell, where they spend eternity hiding Mussolini’s hat and calling him “Il Douche.”
May 29: Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay become the first people to successfully climb to the top of Mount Everest.
July 27: Fighting ends in Korea when the North, South, China and U.S. sign an armistice. Fun fact: the war technically never ended since a peace treaty was never signed.
Dec 30: The first color TVs go on sale, paving the way for 21st-century audiences to watch Real Housewives get their bikini lines waxed in high definition.
May 17: The Supreme Court, in Brown v. The Board of Education, finds that racial segregation violates the 14th Amendment and is unconstitutional.
July 17: Disneyland opens in Anaheim, CA, unleashing unspeakable evil.
Dec 1: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a Montgomery, AL bus, but later goes on to work at NASA and help launch the Friendship 7.
Jan 27: Elvis Presley releases first hit single Heartbreak Hotel, about a cowboy and his forbidden love for teddy bears.
Nov 6: Ike again kicks Stevenson’s ass with a 457-73 electoral college victory.
Oct 4: USSR fires the first round in the Space Race by launching SPUTNIK 1, the first artificial satellite.
Dec 6: The first U.S. attempt to launch a satellite into space fails spectacularly when it prematurely explodes on the launch pad.
Jan 31: U.S. finally succeeds in launching a satellite into space with Explorer I, which subsequently discovers the Van Allen radiation belts, a discount auto parts warehouse in Reseda, CA.
April 17: The first major World’s Fair since WWII gets underway in Belgium. Belgians are annoyed since the only good thing about WWII was not having to put up with any World’s Fairs.
July 8: An 8.0-mag Earthquake strikes Lituya Bay, Alaska, triggering a 1,700-foot mega-tsunami… or so they say.
Jan 3: U.S. admits Alaska into union as the 49th state. Sure, now that it’s all tsunami-damaged.
Feb 16: Fidel Castro becomes prime minister of Cuba.
Feb 22: Lee Petty wins the first Daytona 500 stock car race.
April 9: NASA picks first the seven dudes who will become U.S. astronauts.
Aug 12: Hawaii is admitted to the union, giving us 50 states and SPAM.
Sept 15: Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev kicks off a tour of America, where he visits NYC, CA, DC, MD, PA and IA.
This isn’t the last we’ll see of Khrushchev. As you’ll learn next week, he also has a penchant for shoes. So be sure to come back and get a little groovy with us as we tackle the ’60s. And don’t forget to join us at the Triad on April 22 to celebrate alllllllll the decades. Click HERE to buy tickets.
Have a great week!