Growing up in the 1950s was an experience like no other. Increased prosperity and the Baby Boom following World War II meant that many families moved to the suburbs where their children had lots of space to play and plenty of other kids to play with. When the weather was good children were often “let out” in the morning and were only summoned back home for lunch and dinner. It was a time when women most often were homemakers, raising children and managing the household as their primary concerns while men worked outside the home.
The 1950s also had a very distinct aesthetic as well. Shiny cars detailed in chrome lined the streets and both men’s and women’s clothing was far more formal than today’s attire. Even casual clothes for women were dressier than today. Sweaters worn with pedal pushers were the trend for casual wear, but for work, school, church, and social functions it nearly always required that women wear dresses or skirts.
Homes were smaller and were decorated in atomic deigns, Polynesian barkcloth, and formica dining sets. And, it was a Big Deal when a family could finally afford a TV.
It was the era of the Hokey Pokey, the hula hoop, and the birth of Rock & Roll. For a lucky few these years were captured on home movies- a first for most families. These silent films were often shaky and sometimes grainy, but they captured snippets of 1950s home life that illustrate just how different things really were back then.
From how neighbors treated each other to how people relaxed (partner dancing, anyone?), these old home movies are our best glimpse back to that time. It wasn’t that there were no problems back then, but how people lived their lives was slower and more centered on family- unlike today’s tech-heavy world of social media and the 24-hour news cycle.