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BOOMERNET Chronicle: 1955

1955

Click to buy at Amazon.com Rosa Parks, an African-American seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, refuses to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger and is arrested for violating the city's racial segregation laws. This sparks a year-long black boycott of the city bus system, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which is widely recognized as the first major organized action of the civil rights movement in America.

Cold war tensions are eased somewhat by the Geneva Summit in July, when the "Big Four" -- Eisenhower (U.S.), Eden (U.K.), Bulganin (USSR), and Faure (France) -- meet, along with their foreign ministers and other key players, to build more open channels of communication. Very little of real substance occurs at Geneva, but the simple fact of the first summit in the 10 years since the Potsdam conference at the end of World War II gives people hope.

Meanwhile, rock 'n' roll takes center stage as the movie Blackboard Jungle opens, featuring the song Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley & his Comets. Pop music will never be the same, as teenagers jump from their seats to dance to "One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock, rock!" Neither the first rock recording nor even the first hit by Haley, it is still the first record of its type to garner widespread publicity and acceptance and is thus viewed as the beginning of a new era.


U.S. Facts

  • President: Dwight D. Eisenhower (R)
  • Population: 165,931,000
  • Life Expectancy: 69.6 years
  • Unemployment: 4.4%
  • Average Annual Salary: $5,000
  • Minimum Wage: $0.75 per hour
  • Inflation Rate: 0.4%

What Things Cost

  • Automobile: $1,950
  • Gasoline: $0.29 per gallon
  • House: $17,500
  • Bread: $0.18 per loaf
  • Milk: $0.92 per gallon
  • Postage Stamp: $0.03

Major U.S. Events

  • Eisenhower suffers heart attack, in hospital for 3 weeks
  • Bus boycott begins in Montgomery, AL, 1st major civil rights event

Major World Events

  • Soviet Union & 7 neighbors sign Warsaw Pact mutual defense treaty
  • US, UK, USSR, and France meet at summit in Geneva

January

  • USS Nautilus launched, 1st nuclear-powered submarine

February

  • Pentagon announces plan for missiles w/nuclear warheads
  • 1st U.S. military advisors sent to South Vietnam
  • Nikolai Bulganin becomes Soviet premier, replacing Malenkov

April

  • Churchill resigns as UK Prime Minister for health reasons; Anthony Eden succeeds him

May

  • Federal Republic of [West] Germany becomes sovereign state

July

  • Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California

August

  • In northeast U.S., flooding caused by Hurricane Diane claims 200 lives
  • 1st Guinness Book of World Records published

October

  • Mickey Mouse Club begins on ABC

December

  • Rosa Parks refuses to sit at back of bus and is arrested for violating Montgomery, AL segregation laws
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. begins 381-day black boycott of Montgomery bus system
  • General Motors becomes 1st U.S. firm w/annual sales of $1 billion

Top Songs

  • Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White by Perez Prado
  • Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley & His Comets
  • The Yellow Rose Of Texas by Mitch Miller
  • Autumn Leaves by Roger William
  • Unchained Melody by Les Baxter

Other New Songs

  • Ain't That A Shame by Fats Domino
  • Maybellene by Chuck Berry
  • Only You by the Platters
  • Sincerely by the McGuire Sisters
  • Bo Diddley by Bo Diddley

Top Movies

  • Marty
  • East of Eden
  • Rebel Without A Cause
  • The Seven Year Itch
  • To Catch a Thief

Top Books

  • The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  • A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Conner
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson
  • Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk

Top TV Shows (1954-55)

  • I Love Lucy
  • The Jackie Gleason Show
  • Dragnet
  • You Bet Your Life
  • The Toast of the Town (Ed Sullivan)

Major League Baseball: World Series

  • Brooklyn Dodgers d. New York Yankees

Pro Football: Championship

  • Cleveland Browns d. Los Angeles Rams

Ice Hockey: Stanley Cup

  • Detroit Red Wings d. Montreal Canadiens

Pro Basketball: Championship

  • Syracuse Nationals d. Ft. Wayne Pistons

NCAA Champions

  • Football: Oklahoma Sooners
  • Basketball: San Francisco Dons

Other Champions

  • Boxing: Rocky Marciano defends heavywt. title twice, then retires
  • Golf: Doug Bird PGA player of year
  • Tennis: Tony Trabert and Doris Hart win U.S. Open
  • Horse Racing: Swaps wins Kentucky Derby
  • Auto Racing: Bob Sweikert wins Indianapolis 500

Note: You may click on the images above to visit Amazon.com for souvenirs of the era


Inventions, Fads, & Fashion
  • Fiber optics developed in England
  • UHF television developed
  • Men begin wearing pink clothes
  • Scrabble board game debuts
  • PlayDoh and Frisbee are new toys
  • Home microwave ovens are introduced
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