REMEMBERING 1953

REMEMBERING 1953

I graduated from Anacortes high school in  1953. I was 18 years old. As I prepare to fly to Scottsdale for my knee replacement surgery I've been reflecting on how life has changed since my high school graduation.

 In 1953 the average cost of an automobile was $1850 and gasoline cost $.29 a gallon. The average cost of a house was $17,500. Postage stamps cost three cents, and a loaf of bread $.16. The average annual salary was $4700 and the minimum wage was $.75 an hour.

Dwight D Eisenhower was president and Richard Nixon was vice president of the United States. That was the year Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz signed a contract to continue the I Love Lucy show and TV Guide was 1953 published for the first time.

That was the first year the Academy awards were broadcast on television. Playboy magazine began its publication featuring Marilyn Monroe on the cover. L. Ron Hubbard created the church of Scientology that year. Joseph Stalin leader of Russia died at the age of 73, missed by nobody.

That year almost 50% of all passenger travel was by railroad and only 21% by air. Jacqueline married John F. Kennedy and Dr. Jonas Salk announced the discovery of the vaccine for polio. Dag Hammarskjold was named Secretary-General of the United Nations. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in a Bell rocket plane. 

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England. A teacher’s average salary was $4254. For the first time transistor radios were offered for sale. This was the year Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first people to climb Mount Everest for the first time.

That year the CIA helps the Shah of Iran to be put in power as a leader. East Germany citizens rebel against communist rulers and Russia quickly suppresses the rebellion. The New York Yankees win a fifth World Series in a row. Albert Schweitzer is awarded they Nobel Peace Prize.

Grass was something you mowed, pot was something you cooked in, Coke was a soft drink and gay described a happy event. Most boys, especially those playing sports, wore their hair cut short as a crew cut. They used a wax to keep it standing up. Few students at Anacortes had cars. They walked or had a family member drive them when a car was needed. Generally speaking, 1953 was a year the girls wore poodle skirts and the boys corduroys or jeans with tee shirts. There was no internet, blue tooth, computers, Ipods, cell phones, Twitter, Facebook or cell phones. There was no FM radio. You listened to music on records. There were no CD's or DVD's. You typed on typewriters and used carbon paper. Families talked at the dinner table. Most homes didn’t have a dishwasher, that was the children’s job.  Home economics text books taught girls about how to be a good wife. Not many high school graduates who didn't have an athletic scholarship went on to college. Instead the went to work and soon were married. There was lots of work with fishing, mills and lumber the main industries.

Few people had TV. Your primary source of media entertainment was the radio and the movies. TV in Anacortes was rare  enough  people would be invited to someone’s house who had a TV to watch it. If you did have a TV it was probably a small black and white screen and you received the signal from an tall ugly antenna on your roof. You had to get on the roof and move it around to find the local stations. Usually this was done by the person on the roof manually turning the antenna while someone on the ground, watching the TV, would  yell up to the person on the roof to let them know if it was pointed right. Westinghouse sold the first color TV’s that year for $1.175, but not many people bought them. Most shows were cowboy westerns and variety shows like Milton Berle.

Most rural roads had Burma Shave advertising signs along the side of the road. A series of signs which told story and ended with the name "Burma Shave." Here’s an example: (1) "If your peach keeps out of reach (2) Better practice what we preach (3) Burma Shave.

Some of the cars being sold in 1953 that aren’t sold anymore include the Nash Rambler, the Hudson Hornet, the Packard automobile and the Studebaker. It was 1953 when Ford developed the Edsel, the biggest automotive flop of all times.

It's been 58 years since I graduated from high school and yet it seems so fresh in my mind in many ways. On the other hand, I'm glad I lived to enjoy the enormous number of improvements and changes since then. On the other hand, those times did seem a whole lot simpler and life didn't seem to move as fast as it does now. In the words of Bob Hope's theme song "thanks for the memories."

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