After a deep economic depression that lasted a decade (1929-1939) and six years of a world war (1939-1945), what was life like in the United States during the 50’s? For most, simply FANTASTIC.
It was a prosperous decade, while Europe was trying to gather its rubble, the clever americans were crowned with unprecedented economic growth and an unemployment rate at record lows.
Women insisted on being the best mothers, wives and housewives, educating with rigid Christian values their children, cutting-edge technology greatly facilitated household chores and although female liberation began, it was not well seen that women neglected their family for a job.
It was a time of bonanza where men could provide support for large families, pay mortgages, new cars, give themselves luxuries and vacation with a minimum wage, the birth of the middle class was expanding before low levels of inflation and economic expansion.
The cars were big and strong, they moved with huge engines that burned gallons and gallons of cheap gasoline (25cvs) as if there were no tomorrow, interstate highways (freeways) or fast roads connected the cities and as in the first stage of bonanza American in the nineteenth century with the construction of railways, road mobility facilitated the movement of people and goods;
Commerce also benefited from the development of cinema, music and television, which were large distractors and massive means of manipulation that made people reflect themselves, creating an alternate reality forging the so-called «American dream» that was having a big house and many children to inhabit it.
The postwar boom was a time of family values, conformity, religious awakening and consumerism. The dollar dominated the world, World War II had left a devastated Europe and the countries of the East and Japan were still trying to rebuild. The American industry was the only one that was strengthened with a GDP that increased from about 200,000 million dollars in 1940 to more than 500,000 million in 1960 and displaced France, England and Germany from its leadership.
Capitalism and its free market were consolidated in the world but, at the same time, movements began to be defined that demanded another way of life, a new scale of values: hippism, feminism, ecologists, the university bourgeoisie, everybody had something to say, especially minorities.
In 1959, the United States Government began calculating poverty statistics, registering 22.4% of the population below the minimum threshold, city suburbs were expanding and social assistance campaigns began to take hold .
The so-called War on Poverty whose central element was the creation of the Office of Economic Opportunities, which provided training to the most disadvantaged americans and developed housing, health and education agencies, the successful plan lowered the poverty rate to 15.1% in just 5 years.
The Americans raised the power of their freedom and dedicated themselves to enjoy life with an immediate consumerism, the primary engine of their thriving economy, persuaded by the fear of an impending nuclear attack by the Soviet Union.
A great generation of Americans had conquered the world, but they still dreamed of traveling to space and reaching to the moon, in short, life was good, simple and highly materialistic, but as always, there was a fly in the soup: COMMUNISM, which hovered over their happiness like an ominous shadow.