Life in the 1950’s

In the article “Busy Wife’s Achievement ” published in Life Magazine in 1956 is about a young girl name Marjorie Sutton who was married before even graduating high school then from there went to fulfill her housewife duties. Her accomplishments or as the article states “Has made a career”  being able to cook, make clothes for her children and herself , host large parties, be part of the PTA and even run fund raisers.

If you ask any women in Baruch they will laugh at Marjorie Sutton “Career” because cooking, cleaning and making it to your children school meetings would considered more of your obligation as a wife not a career. If this article would to be rewritten today same title “Busy Wife’s Achievement” it would say Marjorie Sutton has just earned her PHD, works 40 hrs a week and still has time to make it to her boys soccer game.

Society has changed very much since the 1950’s. Marjorie’s husband only earns 25,000 a year and lives comfortable that would be impossible today. Now most households have two incomes just to make ends meet. When a couple gets divorce now it is not frown upon on, I have even seen signs that say 2nd divorce is 50% off. A women not married by the age of 20 is very common for todays society too. These are things that would have been frown upon on in the 1950s. I’m glad that society has changed and women are much more independent now.



Highlighted Honeymoon


Their Sheltered Honeymoon (1959) Life Magazine Aug. 10 1959.

” By the late 1950s, tens of thousands of bomb shelters had been built in middle-class neighborhoods, and 40 percent of Americans were seriously considering building one. After being asked by a Miami bomb shelter manufacturer, Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Mininson agreed to spend their two-week honeymoon in a twenty-two-ton, steel-and-concrete, eight-by-fourteen-foot shelter, twelve feet underground.”


To some, reading about this couples honeymoon taking place locked up in a bomb shelter for two weeks straight might seem crazy and suicidal. If you realize the time frame of this occurrence they might not seem so crazy after all, this was a part of the American life in the 1950’s. The constant terror of the chance that America may a part of a nuclear warfare is what turned thousands of Americans to options like building bomb shelters. The only reason the couple might of agreed to such conditions is the fact that their “real” honeymoon would be paid for afterwards in exchange for accepting the challenge set by the guy who builds bomb shelters in Miami. In completing the two weeks they produced some very useful research on how people might actually turn out in the case of a real nuclear warfare, when in this time was very possible. This gave hope to the thousands that poured money into having bomb shelters built, it gave them a sense of security during this time of great fear for not only themselves but for America as a whole.

This goes to show you the social and even the economical realities in the 1950s. People were frightened and in response they built bomb shelters regardless of the money because it must have costed a fortune. The manufactures without a doubt, prospered during this time and even gave everyone that was on edge a sense of faith especially after the new research presented by the daring “bomb shelter couple”.



The Era of Separation: Exlusion of basic rights




Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)

Chief Justice Warren once said, “Education of white children was largely in the hands of private groups.  Education of Negroes was almost nonexistent, and practically all of the race were illiterate.  In fact, any education of Negroes was forbidden by law in some states.”

Due to this so called concept of “separate but equal” the lives of African Americans and their futures were greatly impacted.  This form of segregation was seen in the education system, which this case delineates.  As Chief Justice Warren makes his point clear on the different types of education was provided for whites and blacks was clearly not the same.  Based on the fact that most African Americans had been illiterate, it shows they were not given the proper education that they deserved.  In regards with the Fourteenth Amendment, “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”: this was a clear violation, depriving the youth and the future of society of their innate equal rights.  These separate educational systems proved to be corrupt, and this sense of “separate but equal” is truly unequal and an encroachment of peoples basic rights.   Through Chief Justice Earl Warren’s incisive governance this issue, the Court acted in a unanimous decision which held that racial segregation of children in public schools violates the Equal Protection Clause.

You Don’t Need to Work!

“The American Woman’s Dilemma.” Life Magazine. 1947

“a woman was to influence man and boy in her humble role of housewife and mother”

During WW 11, Men had to attend to their duties overseas, which meant women felt it was necessary to work. However, there came a time after 1954 when the men arrived back home. This meant that women no longer needed to work. Many people could argue that women were then rightfully put back into their place of being a home maker or house wife. Society felt it was only right to get back to the norm after the War. Problems were created in society however as many women wanted to continue working  as they enjoyed it. It was fair to say that women had a brand new outlook on life which resulted in more women wanting to work.

In addition, moving to the suburbs forced the women to be home makers rather than independent working women. Moving out of the city meant it was much harder to travel to their once job locations and it also created more jobs to be done such as maintaining a presentable house in the country.


It never said that

Southern Declaration on Integration (1956) 

“The original constitution does not mention education. Neither does the fourteenth amendment. The debates preceding the submission of the fourteenth amendment clearly show that there was no intent that it should affect the systems of education maintained by the states…”

The majority of the whites in the south never wanted to let blacks have education. They pushed as far as they could, even after the 14th amendment was passed the blacks still didn’t get the full package of being an American. This quote shows how the Blacks still had no political rights. They have fought multiple wars and still dont have enough respect to learn in the same class room as white folk. During this time period (1950s) Black Americans have been freed for almost 100 years yet they have been treated as slaves. from a political standpoint, the blacks have no rights. And from a social standpoint, they are nothing but workers, they are not part of society.

The author of this believes that if they integrate races in schools, then the system of public education will be destroyed. He based his ideas and beliefs on the constitution and stands by it.

The ‘Marjorie’ in my life.

Reading ‘Busy Wife’s Achievements’, an article about 1950’s modern day American housewife reminded me of a woman in a very similar situation, but one that as time went by broke out of that suburban rut. I witnessed this transformation in my youth and it remains strongly a part of me because as I grew, so did she but in more ways than just biologically. This woman happens to be my mother.

In a country where this way of life for women was still common in the 1980’s, my mother went to an art college after high school knowing that whether or not she got a degree, whether or not she got a job, she’d be okay because she would get married and it would be her husbands job to support her. As such, she got married as a sophomore and gave birth to her first child (out of three) as a junior.

After graduating, she was just like Marjorie; running the house, taking care of the children and getting dolled up for her husband (my father) was her job. Like Marjorie, she was pretty and popular too. She would make an effort to get ready and apply her makeup before my father came home from work every evening and then she’d get busy with the preparation of dinner. They would entertain friends and family occasionally and this was their mundane, suburban life. Despite her being an avid painter and reader, she had no mental stimulation in her life. She felt like she was stuck in a void that she couldn’t find her way out of and she was also bored. She didn’t feel like she could connect to her husband either because gender roles did not permit them to have much in common.

Three kids and twelve years later she realized she was unhappier than she’d ever been, and she couldn’t figure out the reason for her unhappiness and dissatisfaction. She had everything she could want, (a grand home, three healthy children, a husband that earned a steady salary) why wasn’t she happy? Betty Friedan best describes this feeling in her book ‘The Feminine Mystique’. My mother had spent her youth trying to be the epitome of the ‘perfect wife and mother’, never once stopping to think of herself, of what she wanted in life. This was probably because she had been brainwashed by society into thinking that being the ‘perfect wife and mother’ was the only thing she had wanted for herself.

This wasting away of her twenties made her regret some of the decisions she had made in her life. My mother knew she was worth so much more than just a pretty child-bearer and she realized she wanted to get out there and experience the world in a way she hadn’t ever before. Despite strong disapproval from her mother in law, she decided to put that graphic design degree to use and look for work. She didn’t completely forget about her family, rather she managed to find that difficult balance between family and work that only few manage to achieve.

Eventually, after trying out several jobs over the span of ten years, she settled for teaching at her alma mater. She is a much more vibrant person now. Brimming with vitality, she is also much happier. Being her only daughter, she has been very adamant that I receive as much as education as I can so that I am able to thrive in the competitive world of today, get a job and independently support myself. Though, she would eventually like me to get married, it wouldn’t matter to her if I chose not to. Her hopes for me are much greater than those she had for herself.

Pfff… Bomb Shelter? That’s My Wine Cellar Bro.


Their Sheltered Honeymoon (1959), Life Magazine

“One owner assured his neighbour that his bomb shelter was actually a wine cellar.”

Much like how Pinocchio felt threatened by the effect lying would have on his wooden nose, Americans in the 1950’s sought refuge beneath the surface from total annihilation by Soviet nuclear weapons. Was a 22-ton, steel and concrete 8×14-foot shelter 12 feet underground going to protect them from nuclear fission? NO. But the opposite was what the Eisenhower administration sought to implant in the minds of the terrified and easily controllable population. A vicious chain of deception, formed out of fear, stretched from the highest level (government) to the local level (average citizen).  The American public needed assurance that they would survive a nuclear attack and turned to their government for answers.

“Bomb shelters will protect you from the Soviets!” was the word around town and every American who could afford an underground escape rushed for them. Little did they know that they were being lied to by the very people elected to protect them. Now proud owners of a second chance at life, these “lucky” Americans were unwilling to share and denounced its existence to their neighbours. Unfortunately for the public, the government was much better at masking their deception than our childhood fairytale protagonist, Pinocchio.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address (1961)

“Understandably proud of this preeminence we yet realize that America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.”

His argument is that in order America’s leadership and prestige in the future, depends not only on its economic and military strength, but also on its foreign policy. At the time, the US was clearly the mightiest of the two ‘superpowers’, in terms of economic and military clout. However, in terms of political influence -the most important factor in winning the Cold War- the capitalist sphere of influence was more or less rivaled by its communist counterpart.

By the time of Eisenhower’s farewell address, the Cold War had developed from a simple clash of ideologies into a full-fledged war of ideologies that had claimed millions of lives. Eisenhower had already witnessed all this: In his presidency he saw the end of the Korean War, the beginning of the Second Indochina War and the erection of the Berlin Wall. In this regard, he undoubtedly acquired a certain level of wisdom in relation to how US foreign policy affects its world position.


Separate and UNequal

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka” (1954) by The Supreme Court Reporter

“we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation companied of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment….”

In the history of America, it is evident that there has been an opposition against groups that appear or act differently than what is considered to be normal. For hundreds of years, Blacks in America fought to be freed form slavery, and following freedom they fought for equality in all aspects of life. In the ruling of the Plessy v. Furguson Case of 1896, it was said that facilities for blacks and whites respectively may be separate but that they must be equal. Demonstrating a minuscule amount of compliance to this “separate but equal” notion, the Supreme Court of the United States was prompted by the NAACP in 1954 to review it. The court recognized achievements of blacks as well as recognized American-born blacks as citizens no different than American-born whites.

I believe that this quote epitomizes the ruling of the court in saying that Blacks are not allowed to be deprived of their right to “life, liberty, and property.” As American citizens, the court stated, blacks too have a right to learn in public facilities and that these facilities should not be separated, as separate facilities “deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities.” The fact that these statements were made by the Supreme Court–a function of the United States government–demonstrates that the ultimate ruling of the court is one that is intended to provide a just democratic republic in which all citizens are treated equally. In America during this time, it was difficult for many white Americans to accept racial equality as a principle in life. The fact that the Supreme Court decided in favor of equality for blacks recognizes the continuous issue of social equality, and also that there should not be a distinction between blacks and whites that causes the minority race to receive less benefit in society (i.e. education). It also recognizes this ongoing social conflict in a political aspect, as a branch of the government put forth a new notion of equality for the society to adhere to.

“The Eisenhower Doctrine” (1957)


SEC. 4. The President should continue to furnish facilities and military assistance, within the provisions of applicable law and established policies, to the United Nations Emergency Force in the Middle East, with a view to maintaining the truce in that region.



First of all, the Eisenhower Doctrine seems to arise from one of the political methodologies to restrain Communism spreading around the world. As the result, this Doctrine shows how several western countries including Israel perceive the Communism in the Middle East and stop the movement that might affect the Western Europe countries. However, it seems to be that economic conspiracy behind politics.

As the SEC. 4. says, the United Nations led by several western countries needed justifications to set up military basis to restrain the Communism movement in the Middle East since they thought the movement might have invaded into not only western countries but also the United States territories.

Also, after occupying Egypt, which was part of restraining Communism in the Middle East, since Israel refused to withdraw troops from the area that might cause serious confliction between middle east countries and Israel, the Eisenhower Doctrine seems to be a good justification or EXCUSE for the US government to resolve all the political issues at once and set up military facilities in the Middle East.

There are mostly economic benefits based on ideological and political disputes because there is always disputes where people want economic advantages. This Doctrine also seems to be political policy. However, one nation or organization set up in a specific area, which sometimes means they can keep extracting all kinds of resources like oil. Therefore, the Eisenhower Doctrine was also an excuse to invade into Middle East and keep gaining economic advantages.