Tell me about the 1950's

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Some of you guys are raining on my parade. My mother didn't seem to mind being an indentured servant 24/7 for 4 kids and a working Dad. I definitely had more freedom than I gave my kids over the past 20 years. It seems my future can't possibly be as great as my childhood now living with arthritis, a bum knee, overweight, ugly, receeding gums, tinnitus, debt, uncertain Social Security and a terrible retirement. I didn't even have to work back then so let's stay positive about the good 'ole days. OK?
We had no deposit on pop bottles in the 40/50's
They went in the garbage or were broken on the street.
During the war times were hard--thank goodness we had a fire place because the oil furnace ( replaced the stoker just before the war ) was hard to get oil at many times.
My mother/grandmother was happy that the neighbors were building parts for the Sherman tank because they recieved extra ration stamps & were nice enuf to share with other neighbors. When dad mustered out in 1946 we were all happy again. He was in the first WW also---he said" I am so glad I will be too old to go again"
I had a pretty good life but I would not want to do it all over again.
Good nite,

One thing I forgot---for some reason the deer hunters around here & most parts of MI always had enuf gas stamps to make it up north & back for deer season--amazing ! ! ! !
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I worked for a large research and development company doing secret research for the government.

There was a employee gun club. Club and individual shooting awards were on display in a large display case in one of the company's big hallways.

One club member had a FFL and would bring guns to work to be picked up.

Another club member was a first class machinist who would work on your gun for you in the company's machine shop.

Even the Security Guards sometimes brought their private guns to work to show other employees.

No one thought much about it. The paranoia of today had not started to set in yet.
I'm also convinced that I was born of the wrong generation.
But then again, if I was around in that era the only target shooting would've involved some very angry North Koreans and Chinese.
Can't win.

That was very well written, and informative. Thanks for that window, back to what I consider the golden age.

I was a kid in the 60's and 70's, and caught the tail end of the "Wonderbread" years, but still remember the freedoms we had.
When I came to Texas in 1964 it was normal to see long guns in the back window of pickup trucks. Many trucks were driven by obviously young teen agers and parked in the SCHOOL parking lot.

It's still legal to carry loaded long guns (and handguns) in vehicles but you don't see them hanging in the window any more.
Well I was sure not born anywhere near the 50s (sometimes I wish I was) but I have a grandfather whose stories/memories of that era can be retold. My grandfather's experience was mostly pre-1947 as he moved to a city that year and things changed, but I think some of you may find it interesting, nevertheless.

Papa was born early 30's in Northeast Mississippi, Near Corinth, in Alcorn county, but on a farm many miles away from town. His family's financial status was dirt poor (To put how poor he was in perspective, he had recieved 10 cents and an orange one Christmas and was very greatful).

What he had was borderline 19th century technology. Animals like Mules were used for farming, only 1 extended family member had an automobile (1938 Ford as Papa recalls), and he only went to town once a month, maximum. Pops also had never seen a real telephone in person until he was ~8 years old. The greatest luxury he recalls having was a battery radio that the family would listen to on Saturday nights. The radio battery needed to charge between saturdays. They would tune into WSM/Grand Ole Opry show on those Saturday nights.

House was only a few rooms and was rented, had NO electricity, NO indoor bathroom, and NO running water. Whoever was staying at the house slept in the same bed. His Father divorced his mother at age 5 and the whole family did any/all work that paid. Food was limited to whatever mother nature provided, and food was frequently given as payment for work, so occasionally Pops had some veggies/other farm food. Papa also said that one of the tastiest meals he ever had in his childhood was Squirrel Brains/inards with eggs. All game that was obtained was fished with home-made poles, or hunted with .22s that were shared amongst the extended family. They were cheap ones somebody bought at a hardware store in town. His ammunition was strictly limited to no more than ~5 rounds, so my grandpa was a great shot, because he had to be. He once told me of a time when his mother asked him to get(hunt) 2 pieces of meat/animals for dinner, but my grandpa only had 1 round.

In my grandpa's case ; if no food was brought home, him and his family didn't really get to eat. Extended family members lived close and Papa was close to them and knew his family well. They frequently worked cotton fields for extended family members, and like I said earlier did any work avaliable. He recalls hanging around with an older Uncle who owned a single shot 12 gauge (couldn't remember the make) and a nicer Remington 512 gamemaster(?) .22. That uncle got in a fight with a neighbor over something stupid (can't remember) but he shot at the guy and did some non-life threatening damage to his torso. Don't know what happened to the neighbor but legal action was not taken for numerous reasons.

Gramps also recalls an extended family member taking part in Ku Klux Klan action, and that relation ended up shooting a colored man over a 10 cent loan that was not paid back.

Later in life (early-mid 40's) my grandfather moved to the Memphis, TN area and the family was a little more finnancially stable; and recalls playing with one of his mother's boyfriend's German Luger. He can't remember exactly what kind but it was a 9mm. Most likely mail-order.

Papa also told me some general stuff about guns of that era/area as well:
-Very few people had centerfires, nearly all .22s for small edible game.
-Autoloaders were basically unheard of until WWII.
-No licenseing/registration what so ever.
-Guns were more/less tools and collections or shooting ranges were unheard of (at least where my grandfather was).
-Self defence was also unheard of, as there were very few situations where it was needed. Especially since half the people my grandpa grew up with was extended family and close neighbors.
-Carrying was not really legal, but people did anyway and especially on private land, as that breed of farmers/people of that region tended to be very territorial and not-welcoming to unwanted company.
-Police/detectives were more concerned with busting moonshine stills and had no concern for people with guns or anything of that sort; Pops recalls seeing an officer with a revolver, I would bet a Colt or Smith in .38.

Some ending information:
-Both grandpa and Uncle are still alive and are in pretty good shape. Papa talks to Uncle all the time, and I, personally have visited the Uncle and I visit Papa nearly every weekend.
-Papa enjoys target shooting pistols occasionally and if it weren't for a bad rotator cuff replacement, he would shoot a lot more. He personally went and bought himself a Judge for home defence.
-Uncle goes on hunting trips out west nearly every year and is still a gun guy, and still has that Remington .22 mentioned above
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One summer I stayed with relatives that had a Outhouse, a hand pump for kitchen water and a big galvanized tub for Saturday baths in the kitchen.
Were they poor? They didn't think so. They did have a gun, shotgun I think.

Most families had a radio. Few had that new thing, the TV.

Kids played from morning to after dark, running as far away from home as their legs could carry them. Fat kids? Not hardly. If your kids looked like this today someone would be calling child welfare on you.:D (I'm on the left)
Now days if a child gets 20 foot away the parent is calling 911.

Finally when I was 18, in 1956 I got my first high power rifle, courtesy of the USMC.
That was also when I learn to drive, USMC trucks. I had never driven a car. Now days if you don't get your kid a car when they turn 16, another call to child welfare.:D
"One summer I stayed with relatives that had a Outhouse"

All of my relatives had indoor plumbing, but many of them still preferred the outhouse. Kids learn at an early age not to use the slick pages in the Sears catalog and which bushes not to pull leaves from.

About jet travel. The first successful commercial passenger flights started with the introduction of the Boeing 707 in October of 1958. I don't count the Brit Air Comet because they killed a bunch of people with them before they grounded them because they fell apart in the air. The first jet crash was a BOAC de Havilland Comet in India in May, 1953.

There used to be lots of plane crashes.
Hmmm.....many people mention rabbit hunting to put food in the pot. All winter long my son brought rabbits home, cleaned them and put them in the freezer. He mentioned something at school and I got a phone call from the school counseler to inform me that he was killing rabbits and maybe I should have him talk to someone.

It's really sad to see how far we've come.
Hmmm.....many people mention rabbit hunting to put food in the pot. All winter long my son brought rabbits home, cleaned them and put them in the freezer. He mentioned something at school and I got a phone call from the school counseler to inform me that he was killing rabbits and maybe I should have him talk to someone.

Of course he should talk to someone - like one of his buddies to see if they want to go with him!
The op asked, "Tell me about the 1950's". In one of my previous posts in this thread, I dubbed the Fifties the "Golden Age" of America. I mention this only because others have given interesting insights into the decades of the forties and even the sixties but I would argue that, for better or worse, each of these decades were very different from each other. Call it "the halo effect" or unchecked nostalgia but, as I've already opined, the Fifties was the decade in America to grow up in and to live in.

Another anecdote from the fifties (and likely the forties but probably not so much the sixties) that I keenly recall was the import Beggar's Night had on me and the kids I grew up with. Next to Christmas and the last day of school, Beggar's Night (or what most people now call Trick or Treat night) was so much looked forward to because it offered the promise of way more candy and treats in an evening than we had all year. I can't remember anybody who wore store-bought costumes and we all, or at least most of us, used our own (or our parents') ingenuity as to how we disguised ourselves.

But what most distinguishes yesteryear's Beggars Night from today's Trick or Treat Night is the mind-set and realities of the times. In the fifties, we ran unaccompanied by our parents from house to house with our bags of loot until the porch lights were finally extinguished (as late as 11:00 P.M. or later, in many cases). And we didn't have to check our apples for hidden embedded razor blades.

Today, and with good reason, the "begging" times are mandated by the town or city you live in. For instance, in our little town of 20,000 in northeast Ohio, the approved time is from 6:00 to 7:00 P.M. And most kids, and again, with good reason, have their parents along in the background watching over them as they traverse from house to house.

I suppose there is some truth to the argument that things aren't so much different now as before because vastly expanded public communication sources have only exposed bad things in the present that were able to be kept hidden in the past. On the other hand, let's not kid ourselves. As a the father of two children who were growing up in the seventies and eighties, I, too, haunted the trail of my kids as they went door-to-door during the allotted hour of trick or treating-and with good reason...
I have seen the Fifties referred to as "a safer saner time". Certainly not Paradise, but a lot better than what followed.
Some statistics-divorce rate about 10-15% (I was in that percentage, unfortunately), illegitimacy rate about 5%, drugs mostly confined to the larger cities and certain ethnic/minority groups. Tax rates much lower which meant most working and middle class people had more disposable income.
Some impressions-from someone born in 1949. I lived in New York State 1949-1956 then in Vermont 1956-1959. I had no exposure to firearms from anyone in my family nor did I ever go shooting with any other kids or their families, I did have plenty of cap pistols and that, combined with playing "Army" or "Cowboys and Indians" was seen as a perfectly normal outlet for juvenile energy and not mark of a psychopath or would be terrorist. I have hazy memories of hearing older boys and adults discussing hunting and I recall that many people-in Vermont-ate venison out of preference and not poverty.
Tax rates much lower which meant most working and middle class people had more disposable income.

In the 50's median income was around $20,000 with a Tax rate of 34.58%

As of 2007 the median income was $31,000 which would put you in the 15% bracket.

Tax rates are WAY WAY down from what they once were.

IIRC highest across the board was 1960 or so.
I have enjoyed reading this thread. I was born in 1953, and remember the late fifties and early sixties differently, most likely due to growing up in the inner city. No one I knew had gun. Most of us had switchblades. I still have mine. BB guns were pretty common.

My first exposure to shooting was due to a scoutmaster who taught us marksmanship merit badge. I picked up shooting again as an adult.
I grew up in the mid-south in late 40's-early 50's in a very small rural town. There was no such thing as a gun store. We did have a hardware store, a grocery store, and an early convenience store (gas, groceries, beer joint) that sold new rifles and shotguns. all three of them kept their guns in unlocked racks behind the cash register and never experienced a break-in.

The usual rural concept of kids taking their hunting rifles on the bus and storing them in the coatrooms in the classroom was the everyday rule. No one checked to see if they were unloaded when brought on the bus or into the classroom. It would have brought total shame to a kid to commit such a stupid blunder that the likelihood of a loaded gun was almost nil.

Hunting was pretty much limited to coon, rabbit, and squirrel. None of that was for sport - just a means to put meat on the table. There was no legal hunting of deer because there was very few of them. Occasionally, an old-timer or two would harvest one way out in the backwoods with the use of a .22 rifle - but not that many deer were killed, maybe 5 or 6 per year.

Handguns were not rare, but it was illegal to carry them and the men that owned them seldom discussed their ownership. Some of them did carry, but very concealed.

The attitude toward guns was about the same as toward an axe or a handsaw. People generally saw them as a tool and most homes had at least a .22 rifle and a shotgun. They weren't considered as a defensive tool because the act of breaking into someone's home was about as low as a person could get, socially. Not only would the he likely face long jail time, but his family would generally disassociate themselves from him.

I can't say that those were golden years since financial hardship was widspread. There was a sense, however, of everyone being responsible for their family. If you chose to have a wife and have children, you were expected to provide for them and could not look to others to do it for you.

The gun crimes that occurred back then were generally limited to shootings between drunk individuals or hot-headed individuals. The public's perception of those crimes was that the actions or personalities of the individuals involved caused the shootings. I can't recall any negative attitudes to the guns themselves. Even the guns that were used in those shootings were sold or traded freely, with no stigma attached to them. (I guess some parts of those years maybe were a little golden, after all.)
A median income of $20,000 a year in the 50s seems awfully high to me. I have a copy of Moynihan's Family and Nation in which he gives a median income of $8,500 in 1953. He points that taxes were much lower, back the first 2/3 of family income was tax exempt, by the 1980s when he wrote the tax threshold was down to the first third. State and local taxes much lower then, here in NJ for example the state sales tax was enacted in 1966, the income tax in 1976.
One thing I remember about the 50s is that, for lack of a better term, they were a much less vulgar time. Being foulmouthed resulted in you being dismissed as a moron, especially of you swore in front of women. And they were a lot more ladylike. TV certainly had much higher standards, as did movies. Hard core porn was around, but you really had to dig for it
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