20 Photos Only Kids Who Grew up in the 1950s Will Understand

Pastels! Poodle skirts! Elvis Presley!

20 Photos Only Kids Who Grew up in the 1950s Will Understand
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With the second World War in the rear-view and a new age of prosperity on the horizon, many people viewed the 1950s as one of the greatest periods in American history. Kids were watching TV in color for the first time, teenagers went all-in on rock music, and families piled into the car to catch a movie together at the drive-in on weekends.

And while political tensions were as taut as the strings on Elvis’s guitar, kids who grew up during this seminal time period know that there hasn’t been a decade quite like it since. If you’re eager to take a trip down memory lane, read on to discover 20 photos only kids who grew up in the 1950s will understand. And nostalgia of a verbal kind, don’t miss the 20 Slang Terms From the 1950s No One Uses Anymore.

1
Calling Your Friends on a Rotary Phone

woman calling on rotary phone, 1950s photos Wikimedia Commons/Saxon State Library

While calling a friend today is as easy as instructing Siri to do your bidding, in the 1950s, it was a lengthy process. Every time you wanted to dial a number, you had to wait for the rotary dial to go all the way back to its original position before entering the next one. And for another blast from the past, check out these 17 Vintage Family Photos That Are Sure to Make You Laugh.

2
Dressing Up in a Poodle Skirt

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Look through photo albums of your school dances back in the ’50s, and you’ll have an easier time pointing out the girls who weren’t wearing poodle skirts, given how popular these bright garments were. Created in 1947 by singer and fashion designer Juli Lynne Charlot as part of a last-minute Christmas outfit, the skirt quickly caught on as a story-telling, conversation-starting item of clothing, making the rounds at dances and dinner parties alike.

3
Getting Your First Color TV

Giant TV Box 1960 Wikimedia Commons/Karl-Otto Strandberg

In the 1950s, all it took to be the popular kid in school was having a color TV that everyone from your class could come over to watch Bonanza on. Even though most shows were still only offered in black and white, it was enough just to be able to brag about having that brand-spanking-new television set.

4
Getting Ready in Your Pastel Bathroom

ClassicStock / Alamy Stock Photo

Kids who grew up in the 1950s (and people who live in homes that haven’t been renovated in decades) can look at photos of pastel-colored bathrooms with fondness rather than disgust.

5
Getting Your First Hula Hoop

little girl using a hula hoop in the 1950s Wikimedia Commons/George Garrigues

While it was no easy feat to master the rhythm necessary to get the Hula Hoop to stay up, you spent hours wiggling your hips and watching it fall before finally figuring out how to get a few rotations out of it.

6
Thinking Chrome-Accented Cars Were Unbelievably Cool

Dodge La Femme car Wikimedia Commons/Christopher Ziemnowicz

To date, there are few cars on the road that look as cool as the ones released in the 1950s. From fins to chrome accents to their candy-colored paint jobs, you couldn’t—and likely still can’t—help from oohing and aahing when you see one on the road.

7
Your Mom’s Fat Melting Jiggle Machine

antique fat jiggler machine weird old household items Alamy

Long before ellipticals were invented, moms hoping to work off their post-baby weight wrapped various body parts around a belt that promised to jiggle their fat right off. Obviously, this is not a workout, and it resembles some sort of medieval torture device. Luckily, we’ve evolved since then. For more on this, check out The New Science-Backed Workout That’s Extending Elderly Lives.

8
Going to McDonald’s For the First Time

old mcdonalds 1950s, 1950s photos Shutterstock

Home-cooked meals were the name of the game in the 1950s—until McDonald’s changed everything. As the newly-franchised company expanded throughout the 1950s, kids across America began to clamor for their hamburgers, begging mom and dad to ditch the dinner cooking in the Crock Pot and head to the Golden Arches instead.

9
Wearing a Coonskin Cap to Look Like Davy Crockett

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While you may not have been the King of the Wild Frontier, you were the next best thing: a kid in a coonskin cap with a penchant for adventure.

10
Worshipping All Things Elvis

elvis presley stamps Shutterstock

Sure, kids these days might appreciate Elvis Presley’s music, but they’ll never know what it was like to grow up while the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was still alive and making hit records. (And they’ll certainly never know the pleasure of decking out their rooms with posters, photographs, and other paraphernalia of the sultry singer.)

11
Helping Your Parents Pick Out Patterned Laminate Flooring for Their Kitchen

kitchen in 1950s Wikimedia Commons/German Federal Archives

Before hardwood floors came back into fashion, patterned laminates were the pinnacle of home décor. Inexpensive, easy to install,  and impervious to even the messiest spills, virtually everyone you knew had these plasticky floors in their kitchen.

12
Proudly Wearing a Varsity Letter

Boy and Girl Walking Home Together in the 1950s {Dating 50 Years Ago} Alamy

If you wanted to show your school pride in the ’50s, there was no better way to do so than by wearing your varsity letter around town. And if you were a girl, you might be lucky enough to have your boyfriend lend you his. For more ’50s romance, check out 40 Old-Fashioned Relationship Tips That Still Apply Today.

13
Thinking Marilyn Monroe Was the Epitome of Glamour

marilyn monroe, 1950s glamour photos Wikimedia Commons/UCLA Library

Even before she went platinum and breathily extolled the virtues of diamonds, you thought Marilyn Monroe was the most glamorous girl you’d ever seen. From her auburn waves to her curvy shape, she was peak ’50s perfection.

14
Spending Weekends at Your Local Drive-In

Drive-In movie theater Wikimedia Commons/Orange County Archives

Prior to the advent of the multiplex, drive-in movies were the best way to see a film. You’d park your car, tune in on the radio, and enjoy hours of entertainment every weekend during the summer.

15
Hanging Out in Your Parents’ Sunken Living Room

A Sunken Living Room From the 1980s Home Decor Alamy

Whether you were inviting friends over for cocktails or having a massive holiday celebration, fashionable 1950s homes were meticulously maintained for entertaining purposes. Of course, no room was better suited to gathering guests than your sunken living room, where you could relax far from (or at least a few inches below) the hustle and bustle in the kitchen.

16
Spending Friday Night at Your Local Soda Fountain

A Group of Kids on a Date Eating Food in the 1950s Cost of a Date Alamy

While formal restaurants had their time and place, the only acceptable place to hang out with your friends or take a date on a Friday night was your local soda fountain.

17
Covering Your Christmas Tree in Tinsel

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There’s a reason every TV station plays White Christmas on repeat every holiday season. Maybe it was because the war had just ended, and people had yet to forget what a gift it is to have your entire family safe and home. But there’s something about the tinseled tree, the old train car toys, and the wooden sleds that children used to go from neighbor to neighbor spreading festive cheer, that still warms your heart like hot cocoa.

18
Putting the Ants in Your First Ant Farm

 

While your furry pets were, of course, sources of joy for you as well, you found few things more fascinating than watching the ants move through your ant farm. And while the box may have read “escape proof, ” you’d occasionally catch a straggler who hadn’t made its way in.

19
Polishing Your Saddle Shoes

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Though, by today’s standards, having an entire family wear matching shoes might seem noteworthy, in the 1950s, you, your mom, dad, and siblings all had matching saddle shoes. And, of course, you kept them so well-shined you could practically see your reflection in them.

20
Picking the Perfect Pair of Bobby Socks

Bobby socks and harp Wikimedia Commons/The National Library of Wales

While no-show socks may be essential by modern standards, in the 1950s, people proudly wore their bobby socks cuffed above the ankle with everything from shorts to formal dresses. For what it’s worth, Prince George and Princess Charlotte still rock that look. For more on their retro style, don’t miss A Royal Family Guide to Dressing Your Child.

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