The year was 1955 and it was the year of â€œthe shot felt â€˜round the world.â€ Following the epidemic years of the 1940s and early 1950s, parents breathed a sigh of relief in April when Jonas Salk announced the successful trials of his new polio vaccine and a vaccination campaign is started.
The Civil Rights movement also gets a shot in the arm when Rosa Parks, a forty-two year-old seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. Her refusal sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Backed by church leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who organized the boycott, Rosa Parksâ€™ simple act of defiance led to the Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public transportation was unconstitutional.
That year Marian Anderson also made strides in the Arts when she became the first African-American to sing with the New York Metropolitan Opera.
1955 was quite a year in fast food history as Ray Kroc and his multi-spindled shake mixer teamed up with Dick and Mac McDonald and started the McDonald’s franchise in Des Plaines, Illinois, based on the McDonald brothers’ hamburger stand in California.
The need for quick food was not overlooked in the home market either. In 1955 Tappan began selling the first microwave oven for the home. The $1,200 price tag was a bit too steep though and sales were low.
In California, Walt Disneyâ€™s dream of a â€œmagical parkâ€ became a reality as Disneyland was officially opened. More than 50 million visitors would go through the gates during its first decade of existence. Disney also found success as American kids rushed out to buy “coonskin caps” as they followed the exploits of Davy Crockett in segments that aired on the “Disneyland” show and in 1955 as initial episodes came together in “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.”Â
In the midst of the Cold War, Operation Alert made civil defense exercises mandatory. Already families were being urged to stock their pantries with necessary supplies and maintain first aid kits, while schoolchildren learned from â€œBert the Turtleâ€ about â€œduck and cover.â€ For an interesting article on womenâ€™s roles in the Civil Defense programs of the 1950s, see the article Women Defend the Nation on the website of the Cold War Museum.
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