Monday, February 9, 2015

1956 - turning point in the Long Fifties decade

Many historians feel the Fifties actually ran from the late 1940s to the early 1960s : a 'Long Fifties' running roughly from 1947 to 1964.

The more astute ones admit that it also changed character, sharply and abruptly, midway around 1956-1957.

Fears of adult cancers and childhood mutations from invisible global nuclear fallout from peacetime nuclear testing and nuclear plant accidents suddenly emerged full blown in March 1956.

Fallout from US nuclear test CASTLE BRAVO had just killed a Japanese fisherman thousands of miles away - the resulting publicity became the opening chapter in today's vast environmental movement.

In 1957 Sputnik arrive, literally out of the blue, and told the world that a H-Bomb could now kill millions-in-minutes in a metropolitan city like London or Tokyo, with almost no warning and with known no air defence able to stop this 'death by intercontinental nuclear missile'.

Now instead of the world being one global village thanks to Fifties technology, it was now a global Hiroshima ... thanks to Fifties technology.

Both events saw instant cultural traction as dozens of popular sci fi movies emerged with nuclear mutated monsters and end of the world plots.

Mid point Baby Boomers

I mention all this because I am a mid point baby boomer - I wasn't born in 1941 or 1966 but in 1951, so my first good strong continuous memories only begin in 1957.

So the Golly Gee technology-optimistic early 1950s was more visible to me as a historical material artifact - from books written well before 1956-1957 - than something I actually heard adults around me saying by 1957.

We error if we don't approach the Long Fifties as a complex transitional decade rather than some uncomplicated conservative golden age of mom, apple pie and white picket fences.

Let's stop Dicking with Jane ....

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