“The World Series Catch” by Willie Mays
July 22, 2021
In the 8th inning of game 5 of the September 1954 World Series,  New York Giants center fielder Willie Mays made a remarkable over-the-shoulder running catch of a deep center field fly ball to record the out and throw back to the infield, preventing runners from advancing. The Giants won the game 5–2 in extra innings, and eventually the World Series.  Source: Wikipedia
Fall of French Indochina
July 19, 2021
https://youtu.be/ZMPNY9w8OmQ In May 1954 communist Viet Minh forces won a decisive victory over the French colonial army in the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ. The war ended shortly afterward with signing of the 1954 Geneva Accords in which France agreed to withdraw its forces from all of its colonies in French Indochina. The accord temporarily divided Vietnam at the 17th parallel, with control of the north given to the Viet Minh as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh. The south became the State of Vietnam, nominally under Emperor Bảo Đại, thereby preventing the communists from gaining control of the entire country. Separate ceasefire accords were made with Cambodia and Laos at the conference. Although a general election was to be held by July 1956 to create a unified Vietnamese state, the subsequent refusal of the State of Vietnam to allow the elections ultimately led to the Vietnam War. Wikimedia
Music Soothes the Post-War Soul
July 15, 2021
Popular music often seemed soft and soothing in 1954, the year after the tragic Korean War. https://youtu.be/BTIERquza6Q https://youtu.be/nVGt-qNQ4Os
Eisenhower Describes Domino Theory
July 12, 2021
U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower described the domino theory during an April 1954, news conference, when referring to communism in Indochina. The geopolitical theory stated that if one country fell to a communist takeover, the surrounding countries would fall like a collapsing row of dominoes.  The domino theory was used by successive United States administrations during the Cold War to justify the need for American intervention around the world. Source: Wikipedia
Brown v. Board of Education
July 8, 2021
In the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka the justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional.  The case became one of the cornerstones of the civil rights movement, and helped establish the precedent that “separate-but-equal” education and other services were not, in fact, equal at all. Source: History.com
Edward R. Murrow vs. Joseph McCarthy
July 5, 2021
Edward Roscoe Murrow was an American broadcast journalist and war correspondent who first gained radio prominence with a series of live radio broadcasts from Europe during WWII. In the spring of 1954 the US Senate held a series of hearings to investigate conflicting accusations between the US Army and Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. TV coverage of the hearings contributed to McCarthy's decline in popularity and his eventual censure by the Senate the following December. Murrow's reports on his television program See It Now  helped lead to the censure of Senator McCarthy. Source: Wikipedia
Rock and Roll Music
July 1, 2021
Rock and roll music evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s from gospel, blues, jazz, boogie woogie, rhythm and blues and country music. Many maintain that the first rock and roll single was Rocket 88, written by Ike Turner, sung by Jackie Brenston (saxophone player from Turner's band The Kings of Rhythm) and recorded by Sam Phillips, who later went on to found Sun records (and discover Elvis Presley). https://youtu.be/MWGPznPnxkE The instrumental in Ike Turner's Rocket 88 reminds me of my all time favorite True Fine Mama by Little Richard in 1957. https://youtu.be/IRV25fHD-b4 Early rock and roll typically featured the piano or saxophone as the lead instrument. Guitars became prominent in the mid 1950s with an accentuated backbeat often provided by a snare drum. Classic rock and roll usually features lead and rhythm electric guitars and a string bass. Source: Wikipedia Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock was the first rock and roll record heard by millions of people worldwide. https://youtu.be/xbYiGR0YAAk Shake, Rattle and Roll was a twelve bar blues-form rock and roll song, written in 1954 by Jesse Stone and originally recorded by Big Joe Turner; and later popularized by Bill Haley & His Comets. https://youtu.be/YhELpSeeipg
Five Shot In U.S. Congress
June 28, 2021
In March 1954 four Puerto Rican nationalists wanting independence from US rule, shot 30 rounds from semi-automatic pistols from the balcony of the House of Representatives chamber in the United States Capitol.  The nationalists unfurled a Puerto Rican flag and began shooting as Representatives were debating an immigration bill. Five Representatives were wounded, one seriously, but all recovered. The assailants were arrested, tried and convicted in federal court, and sentenced effectively to life imprisonment. In 1978 and 1979, their sentences were commuted by President Jimmy Carter. All four returned to Puerto Rico. Source: Wikipedia
Godzilla, Them and the Creature from the Black Lagoon
June 24, 2021
1954 was a great year for classic monster movies. https://youtu.be/lM1o1xe5FGE https://youtu.be/CugQcmapiwc
Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine
June 21, 2021
The first effective polio vaccine was developed in 1952 by Jonas Salk and his team at the University of Pittsburgh. Shortly thereafter, a key laboratory technique that enabled mass production of the vaccine was invented by Leone N. Farrell and her team in Toronto. In February 1953 Pittsburg, Pennsylvania launched the first mass childhood Salk Vaccine inoculation program against polio. In February 1954, the vaccine was tested at Arsenal Elementary School and the Watson Home for Children in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1955 the Salk vaccine was found to be 60–70% effective against PV1 (poliovirus type 1), >90% effective against PV2 and PV3 and 94% effective against the development of bulbar polio.  Soon many children's vaccination campaigns were launched and promoted by the March of Dimes, https://youtu.be/BXTRzM0rrYE The annual number of polio cases fell from 35,000 in 1953 to 5,600 by 1957. By 1961 only 161 cases were recorded in the US. Main Source: Wikipedia
Marilyn Monroe Marries Joe DiMaggio
June 17, 2021
In January 1954, Marilyn Monroe and and baseball star Joe DiMaggio were mobbed by reporters and fans when they married in San Francisco. On their honeymoon in Japan, Monroe was asked to perform for American soldiers stationed in Korea. She went, leaving her new husband in Japan. Back in the United States, tension continued to build, particularly around DiMaggio’s discomfort with Marilyn's sexy image. In September 1954, on the set of the Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch, her skirt blew up with air from a New York City subway grate as a crowd of onlookers and press gathered. The crowd cheered and DiMaggio, who was on set, became irate. Wikipedia DiMaggio and Monroe were divorced in October 1954, just 274 days after they were married. Source: History.com
USS Nautilus – First Nuclear-Powered Submarine 
June 14, 2021
Named after both Captain Nemo's fictional submarine in  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and the WWII submarine USS Nautilus (SS-168) ,the new nuclear-powered Nautilus was launched in 1954. Because the USS Nautilus nuclear propulsion allowed prolonged submersion far longer than diesel-electric submarines, she broke many records in her first years of operation and traveled to locations previously beyond the limits of submarines (including beneath the North Pole). Source: Wikipedia
Vintage Commercials
June 10, 2021
With a shift in government spending at the end of the Korean War, the American GDP dropped by 2.2% and unemployment peaked at ~6%. Although the U.S. Federal Reserve tightened monetary policy to curb inflation, spiking interest rates decreased consumer demand. The Fed eased its policies in 1954, allowing the economy to rebound after a 10-month recession. Consumer spending increased. Source: CNBC Some familiar TV commercials from 1954. https://youtu.be/gQt6ym7maRY https://youtu.be/1SyVfcuU7sk?list=PLYHte5blsWCJdgPf8dvW4UZk552hhS73c https://youtu.be/lbd2M003zKU https://youtu.be/glxawiOXbEo https://youtu.be/G6MlXc-Bao4 https://youtu.be/XltnVl2xBVI
Nationwide Atom Bomb Drills
June 7, 2021
The development of the H-bomb committed the United States to an arms race with the Soviet Union. Despite the specter of nuclear holocaust, both the United States and the Soviet Union vied to build ever more powerful nuclear weapons. The Federal Civil Defense Administration was charged with creating shelter, evacuation, and training programs. In the early 1950s, schools across the United States trained students to dive under their desks and cover their heads. Although these drills were designed to simulate what action should be taken during an atomic attack, they also heightened anxiety over an escalating arms race. Wikipedia Nevertheless, duck and cover drills in use during the early 1950s, might have had some rationale. In the early ‘50s, Soviet atomic bombs were basically similar to bombs used in World War II—not the more advanced and large kind of atomic weapons they would later develop. Main Source: History.com