The year 1955 was chock-full of events of economic, social, medical, & cultural importance. Perhaps the year's biggest story was Dr. Jonas Salk's development of a successful vaccine to prevent the terrifying childhood disease known as polio. The economy remained strong, overcoming a scare from Pres. Eisenhower's heart attack. The AFL-CIO merger marked a landmark in labor history. Commercial enterprises like McDonald's debuted that took advantage of the growing car culture. The Baby Boom creating a new market for family entertainment, as evidenced by the success of a new Southern California theme park known as Disneyland. Further Soviet nuclear advances led schools to require Boomer children to hide under their desks in "duck-and-cover" drills. Rock & roll reached new heights of popularity as part of a growing youth culture. Adults became increasingly fearful of "juvenile delinquency," triggered by movies about street gangs, violent comic books, & rebellious film stars such as James Dean (who tragically died in '55). Westerns & quiz shows dominated the growing medium of television. Women's social roles & fashion choices remained highly limited amidst the gender conservatism of Fifties culture. Popular religious fervor encouraged some government officials to blur the lines between church & state. Some communities remained outside the growing prosperity, including poor whites in Appalachia, Latinos in the Southwest, & African-Americans in both the rural South & urban North. The brutal murder of black teenager Emmett Till sparked a new wave of civil rights activism, leading Rosa Parks & Martin Luther King to take leadership roles in the rising Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Support the show