The Year Was 1955

Loretto Szucs and Mary ElizabethThe year was 1955 and it was the year of “the shot felt ‘round the world.” 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 Parks’ simple act of defiance led to the Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public transportation was unconstitutional.

1954-55 Students at University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IndianaThat 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 Disney’s dream of a “magical park” 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.” 
 James Szucs and friend
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 “Bert the Turtle” about “duck and cover.” For an interesting article on women’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.

To take a peek at what things cost in 1955, and for more trivia, take a peek at Pop History of the Fifties: 1955.

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10 thoughts on “The Year Was 1955

  1. for 1955.. I know sports have limited interest to everyone.. in 1955 the Brooklyn Dodgers beat the New York Yankees in the World Series for their first and only championship in Brooklyn. after losing year after year to the Yankees..

  2. Thank you for reporting on my kindergarten year. The trivia is very interesting to me. Many things I remember as my polio shot, Davy Crocket, Disneyland, McDonalds signs with over a ….million sold, I remember my dad mentioning the # rising with a smile.I remember my mother wanting a microwave and my father thought they weren’t safe so she didn’t have one until the 80′s and I remember Amana radar range and thinking they started the microwave…. Thank you for setting me straight.

    I had no idea when Rosa Parks started civil rights, isn’t it sad it took more than 10 years to make a significant difference and exciting it happened in my school years.

  3. My youngest son was born in 1955, and now has children and grand-children of his own. They will love reading about “his year.” Now I cannot wait to see mine and my mother’s This is a wonderful idea. Thanks.

  4. That was the year I graduated from college, started to work in the Executive Offices of The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company and married my husband, Paul. All milestones! Life was good. No problems getting jobs, prices were not outrageous and people were still polite, welcoming and generous to others. What changed it all? Yes, lots of people are all of the above, but there are those who do not want to accept responsibility for their actions and others who are selfish to the point of obscenity.

  5. I hope you will expand the recap of years. I don’t mean add the missing years. I mean, tell more. The details are very interesting and I think it’s a great idea to get a sense of what events were on the minds of ancestors but I’m sure there must have been more happening than what is noted upon here. This is not meant to be critical. I love the concept and I look forward to more descriptions of happenings.

  6. 1955 I moved from Corpus Christi, TX to live in Almeda, TX and went to School in Houston, TX at the newly opened Cullen Jr. High. I too remember McDonalds signs telling what they had sold thus far– it always amazed me that burgers were sold so fast. I don’t believe we ever went to McDonalds — as we always ate at home– but then there were 4 of us and we had moved in with our aunt, uncle and cousin. Money was very tight. I do remember the colored’s acting up — that was big in the South and before we knew what hit us — certain areas of the south were pusing colored’s in their schools. And the wars were on!

  7. My husband and I were married in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 10, 1955. We are still going strong although we now live in Florida. Both of us grew up in Ohio and went to school there as well. I graduated from Tallmadge High School and took classes at Cleveland State while my husband graduated from Kent State University. We look back on the 1950 era with great fondness. It was definitely a calmer time in our country. We didn’t even have locks on our lockers at my high school.

  8. 1955 was my senior year at Dunbar High School, in Dunbar, West
    Virginia. What a great time to grow up. Like some mentioned,
    no one in our town, a suburb of Charleston, ever locked their
    homes. We didn’t have gangs like they do today.

    I was born and raised in that small town, I knew just about
    everybody, had visited just about every home; my Daddy got his
    very first car because I was now working full time and could
    help with the payments. Daddy got a canary-yellow Edsel. It
    was absolutely beautiful and drove like a dream.

    Now, in one more week, I’ll be 70 years old and just thinking
    of all that I have learned and seen and lived through, it is
    history and it is amazing. What a world we live in.

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