History of the World According to the Movies: Part 72 – Post-War America

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Joan Allen and William H. Macy are seen here in the 1998 Pleasantville about a community that lives in a 1950s TV sitcom with a plot that goes along the same lines as The Purple Rose of Cairo in reverse meets The Giver. Here are these two presented in 1950s caricatures. Joan Allen is seen here as the perfect mom who can make rice crispy treats and still look fabulous. William H. Macy is the standard 1950s dad who knows everything and always does the right thing but needs a martini after going through a typical day at the office. Yet, this kind of picture shows post war America as many would remember it with a picture of a perfect American home as a cover of burgeoning anxieties over social change.

The few posts I’m going to focus more on the post-war world between the end of World War II in 1945 to 1960. And right now I’m happy that I don’t have to do any more World War II posts anymore because I had to to eight. Many people tend to remember this time as the good old days (at least in America) with suburban houses, white picket fences, manicured lawns, wholesomeness, and fancy cars. Yet, underneath that fancy world of stability and consumerism is a deep underbelly of social anxiety. It was also a time of great change with a higher rate of consumerism, new styles of living like the suburbs of the urban sprawl, decolonization, and highway infrastructure.  And then there’s the advent of television which will find its way in the homes across the world of anyone who could afford one. It is a new media outlet for communication and entertainment as well as of great influence. Oh, and there’s the Cold War and the potential threat of nuclear annihilation that could come at any time. And they call these time the good old days and make nostalgic movies about them. Good grief.

The United States emerged from World War II with relative ease compared to other nations since it was one of the few major countries to come out of the conflict with its infrastructure intact. It was a time of great prosperity and stability with the baby boom, suburban explosion, highway expansion, and other things. However, it was also a time of great anxiety in the United States since World War II changed so much even as Americans tried to revert to what everything was supposed to be. Except it wasn’t. Dad would sometimes have PTSD induced nightmares while Mom would daydream about her days working in a munitions factory when she had a real job and nobody cared about whether she looked like crap. Uncle Arthur would sometimes come to visit from Greenwich Village with his “roommate” Rodney while Mom and Dad asked him why he’s not yet married and would try to fix him up with a nice girl he’d have absolutely no interest in. Then you have Susie who wants to be a doctor which the family doesn’t want to encourage or Elsie’s painting that’s seen as a selfish hobby. I mean after all, aren’t girls supposed to be more concerned with finding a husband than anything? Next you have Uncle Gary who’s in trouble for being a Communist Party membership in his college days and is being forced to name names and Aunt Gertrude’s “free-spirited” attitude doesn’t seem to be helping. Then there’s Little Bobby and Betty Lou who don’t understand why they can’t invite the black kids down the road to Little Mindy’s birthday party. I mean nobody else in inviting the black family to their social events for some reason. And the black family is thinking about suing the local nearby school so their kids don’t have to attend the one farther away. Nevertheless, while there are plenty of movies made in this era, there are a share of inaccuracies I shall list accordingly.

Juan Trippe:

Juan Trippe was a smarmy airline vulture plotting with meretricious politicians to take over the world’s air routes. (Yes, he was a schemer but he was as concerned with long term survival as with achieving a monopoly. He knew that Pan Am needed domestic feeder routes and that his airline would be in a competitive disadvantage if limited to overseas operations. Trippe’s attempt to use political pressure to force Howard Hughes to sell TWA was perfectly rational in a business sense. Had Trippe had gotten his way Pan Am would still be flying and 2001: A Space Odyssey wouldn’t really look so unrealistic with the Pan Am spaceships.)

Howard Hughes:

In 1947, Howard Hughes’ Hercules plane managed to fly over boats and newsreel cameras for over a minute. (The real Hercules was airborne for only 20 seconds and was never more than 70 feet above the water. Also, unlike in The Aviator Odie wasn’t with him during the flight because Hughes wanted there be no doubt that he was at the controls. Those on board with him were: Radio Operator Merle Coffee, Flight Engineer Don Smith, Flight Mechanic John Glen, James McNamara, and various reporters. Oh, and witnesses weren’t seated and separated from Hughes when he was at the controls either since newsreel footage reveals people actually standing in the cockpit with James McNamara steps away from the rich eccentric.)

Howard Hughes loaned Donald Nixon {brother of Richard Nixon} $250,000 in 1956 to secure a Pentagon contract, which would’ve brought Richard Nixon down if made public. (Contrary to The Hoax, the money was to help Donald Nixon save his restaurant chain, which was public knowledge by the 1960 presidential race. So, no, it wouldn’t have brought Nixon down.)

J. Edgar Hoover:

J. Edgar Hoover was a visionary vigilante who stood alone against the reds with all American protests movements as indicative of communism. (Hoover himself believe this but he wasn’t since his red scare targets went beyond communists and anarchists to include prominent and unprominent liberals, federal judges, senators, anyone belonging to any union, the ACLU, black nationalists like Marcus Garvey, and others. His investigation created files on more than 200,000 people and organizations.)

Eugene Allen:

Eugene Allen got the job as the White House butler by getting caught stealing cake in a hotel, getting hired as a waiter and later impressing a White House who happened to be there. (Sorry, Lee Daniels, while it makes for an interesting story, Eugene Allen became the White House butler simply by applying for the job like a normal person would.)

Chuck Yeager:

Chuck Yeager’s NF-104 flight was an unplanned, spur of the moment thing. (Contrary to The Right Stuff, it was well planned as referenced in the book and his autobiography.)

Chuck Yeager was asked to break the sound barrier on October 13, 1947. (Contrary to The Right Stuff, he wasn’t. He had been flying the Bell X-1 since August of that year and made 8 previous powered flights. When he actually did break the sound barrier, it was by accident for he was aiming at Mach .97 but at speeds just under Mach 1, a shock wave made the Machmeter read low.)

When Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier, people thought that his plane had exploded. (Unlike in The Right Stuff, a scientist actually predicted a sonic boom would happen, which was expected.)

There were fatal accidents on the Bell X-1 before Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. (There weren’t any.)

Chuck Yeager’s wife was there when her husband broke the sound barrier. (Actually she wasn’t. Also, she didn’t know about the first supersonic flight until three months later because Yeager’s Bell X-1 supersonic flight was conducted in complete secrecy.)

Chuck Yeager became a major general. (He retired at brigadier.)

Bettie Page:

Bettie Page was a model in 1946. (She didn’t begin modeling until 1950.)

Bettie Page and her husband Billy didn’t attend Hume-Fogg High School in Nashville, TN. (Contrary to The Notorious Bettie Page, they did.)

Bettie Page was totally OK with her job in fetish/costume/modeling and was quite naïve as to the erotic uses of such photos of her. (Actually while The Notorious Bettie Page shows her like this, she wasn’t necessarily naive. Her attitude basically was “God made us nude, so how bad could it be?” but the more extreme fetish posing fostered sexual deviant desires. Numerous fully nude shoots she did for amateur camera clubs bears this out. Eventually she became fed up with this kind of modeling and became a born-again Christian in 1959, but I wouldn’t blame her.)

William Shawn:

New Yorker editor William Shawn arranged for Richard Avedon to take pictures of Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, arranged Truman Capote’s reading, and accompanied Capote to Kansas for the executions. (Contrary to Capote, Shawn’s sons say he didn’t do any of that and actually felt squeamish about Capote’s reading project.)

Writers:

Ayn Rand:
Ayn Rand’s original title for Atlas Shrugged was Atlas Shrugged. (It was called The Strike when she was working on it contrary to The Passion of Ayn Rand. She didn’t change it to Atlas Shrugged until her husband suggested it. Yet, it’s true she did have an affair with a man 25 years younger than her.)

Truman Capote:

Truman Capote bribed the warden in order to visit Dick Hickock and Perry Smith. (It’s more likely he engaged in a legal firm named Saffels and Hope to negotiate his access deal with the Governor of Kansas no less. So, no, he probably didn’t bribe a warden under the table as Capote implies, but what would you rather see?)

Truman Capote promised to help Dick Hickock and Perry Smith find adequate legal representation. (Contrary to Capote, the real Truman Capote never offered to find a proper lawyer for Hickock and Smith.)

Truman Capote visited Perry Smith a lot from his prison cell. (They mostly communicated by letter but you sort of need to see Truman Capote visit Perry Smith in prison in Capote since you don’t get the suspenseful effect if Capote and Smith were just pen pals.)

During his trip to Holcomb, Kansas, Truman Capote saw the bloodied mattresses during his visit to the scene of the crime at the Clutter house. (Contrary to Infamous, by the time Capote arrived at Holcomb, the mattresses, bedclothes, sofa, and other bloodstained items were burned on November 16 by four friends of Herb Clutter volunteering to clean up the house.)

Truman Capote attended the Clutter family’s viewing at the funeral home. (Contrary to Capote, he arrived in Holcomb, Kansas several days after the funeral had taken place. Also, from Imdb: “According to “In Cold Blood”, the detail about the heads of the deceased being wrapped in gauze was related to Capote by Nancy Clutter’s friend, Susan Kidwell, who visited the funeral parlor with Nancy’s boyfriend Bobby Rupp, while the caskets remained open.”)

Truman Capote witnessed Dick Hickock and Perry Smith’s hanging. (He only witnessed Dick Hickock’s hanging. He couldn’t stand the thought of watching Smith die so he left before it happened.)

Truman Capote wrote with a typewriter. (Contrary to his Philip Seymour Hoffman portrayal, he wrote everything in longhand.)

Truman Capote’s hair was parted on the right side and he wore his watch on his left wrist. (Photos of him show his hair parted on the left side and wearing his watch on his right wrist.)

Julia Child:

Julia and Paul Child had a spat with Julia’s father about Joseph McCarthy during her sister’s wedding reception. (Yes, Julia and Paul were critics of Joe McCarthy but while Dorothy McWilliams got married in 1951, McCarthy was a relative unknown outside Wisconsin and wouldn’t have the kind of pull that would send Paul for questioning in Washington. So the argument in the wedding reception of Julie & Julia is fictional. However, Mr. McWilliams was a supporter of Richard Nixon, who did have a name for himself then.)

The original boeuf bourguignon recipe included carrots. (It didn’t, yet Julia uses carrots in the stew in Julie & Julia.)

Julia and Paul Child moved to Paris in 1949. (They moved in 1948.)

Julia Child’s father didn’t approve of either of his daughters’ marriages. (Julia and Paul’s marriage, yes. Dorothy’s marriage to Ivan Cousins, there’s no evidence he did though it’s implied in Julie & Julia. Nevertheless, despite being tiny, Paul Child was kind of a badass since he was a black belt in judo while he and Julia met each other in the OSS during World War II.)

Scientists:

Dr. John Nash:

John Nash’s hallucinations were visual and auditory. (Actually, Nash was just a schizophrenic who just heard voices in his head, though since film is a visual medium, depicting his illness more accurately in A Beautiful Mind wouldn’t be very helpful to viewers {and the real Nash was perfectly fine with this}. Also, he didn’t develop schizophrenic symptoms until some years after graduate school. )

Between his years at Princeton and MIT, John Nash worked for the Pentagon. (He actually worked for the RAND Corporation as a consultant but he did do work in decoding Soviet communications. Also, he didn’t work for the Wheeler Lab while at MIT because it doesn’t exist and there’s no such pen ceremony at Princeton either.)

Through his wife’s love and devotion, John Nash was able to reduce incidence of frequent hallucinations by committing to a medication regiment and learning over time to ignore them just in time to win the Nobel Prize in Economics. (That’s a nice story, Ron Howard, but it’s full of shit. John and Alicia actually divorced in 1963 {though she did help him and they did renew their relationship when he won the Nobel Prize [which he wasn’t allowed to accept due to being off his meds as well as for fear that he’d whip out his dick and scream racial slurs at imaginary Jews] as well as remarry in 2001}. However, Alicia’s reason for divorcing John had more to do with him getting caught picking up young men at public toilets and not things like schizophrenia, fathering a kid out of wedlock and not paying child support {though this happened before he may have met his wife}, anti-Semitism, throwing his wife to the ground and placing his foot on her neck in front of his own students at a picnic, and you name it. Yeah, somehow boning dudes at men’s rooms was a deal breaker for Alicia. As for the medication, he hadn’t been on anything since 1970 and he recovered despite refusing treatment, which actually might’ve been a better decision in the long run even if he wasn’t allowed to receive his Nobel Prize out of fear of making a TMZ worthy spectacle of himself. But Ron Howard put it in anyway because he didn’t want to encourage potentially mentally ill movie goers to stop therapy, which may not have been available for Nash.)

Dr. Alfred Kinsey:

Dr. Alfred Kinsey was a skinny average looking guy. (Contrary to Kinsey, he looked less like Liam Neeson and more like a slightly overweight William H. Macy. Oh, and he was in his fifties at the time when Sexual Behavior of the Human Male was published.)

Dr. Alfred Kinsey was a passive partner during his affairs with men. (He actually wasn’t, particularly during his affair with Clyde Martin in 1939 and he wasn’t the only one.)

Those who objected to Dr. Kinsey’s research on human sexuality were either anti-sex prudes or conservatives. (Yes, there were people who objected to Kinsey’s research as in the man’s biopic. Yet, some of his methods would’ve been pretty controversial even by our standards. Kinsey was known to persuade many of the male researchers who worked with him to try gay sex, often with him and insisted he was “happily married” to avoid scandal. He also made secret films of his subjects having sex, joining in, gathering unusual data on children’s sexual responses from a pedophile, and presenting them as a product of a wider study.)

Dr. Alfred Kinsey was a professor at Indiana University. (He was a professor of the University of Indiana.)

Dr. Alfred Kinsey’s parents were still together when he was working on his sexual research books. (Actually, his parents divorced in 1931 when Kinsey was 37 and he never saw or contacted his father again after that. Yet, in Kinsey, family and friends are visiting Alfred Sr. at home after Alfred Jr.’s mother Sara was just buried.)

Albert Einstein:

Albert Einstein accepted Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle as a fundamental physical law. (He never did saying, “Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the ‘old one’. I, at any rate, am convinced that He (God)does not throw dice.” [Quantum Mechanics is based on laws of probability … hence the reference to dice.])

Albert Einstein had a niece named Catherine Boyd. (I.Q.’s plot has Einstein’s niece as a main character. However, she probably didn’t exist since Einstein had one sister who didn’t have children. Thus, he was nobody’s uncle, at least in a biological sense.)

Kurt Godel:

Kurt Godel was mischievous and gregarious. (He was famously shy and reclusive. Also, along with Boris Podolsky, he was between 17 and 30 years younger than Einstein. In I. Q. they’re about the same age.)

Sports:

The Houston Astros existed in the late 1940s. (They didn’t.)

Brooklyn Dodgers sportscaster Ray Barber broadcasted the away games for his team in Philadelphia and Cincinnati. (Contrary to 42, no team broadcaster ever went with his team during an away game. Also, at that time, away game broadcasting consisted of recreating the came back in the studio from a pitch by pitch summary transmitted over telegraph wire from the stadium where the game was played.)

Wendell Smith was the first black member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. (Contrary to 42, Sam Lacy was in 1948.)

Brooklyn Dodgers player Dixie Walker was traded for signing  a petition over Jackie Robinson. (While he certainly did sign a petition, he only did so under pressure from his teammates but he was more civil to Jackie Robinson by the end of the season and gained much respect for him. As for his trading, it had more to do with him being in his late thirties and nearing the end of his career.)

Brooklyn Dodgers GM Leo Durocher was suspended by team commissioner Happy Chandler over his affair with an Actress Larraine Day. (Though he was suspended and did have an affair with Larraine Day, Durocher was actually suspended by Chandler due to allegations of gambling.)

Pee Wee Reese put his arm around Jackie Robinson during the 1947 game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers. (Contrary to 42, this happened in 1948.)

Boxer Billy Fox was undefeated by November 1947. (He had lost a professional match a few months earlier in February against Gus Lesnevich.)

Jake LaMotta:

Boxer Jake LaMotta beat up his brother Joey on the vaguest suspicion that he might’ve slept with his second wife Vicki. (Contrary to Raging Bull, the victim was Jake’s friend and eventual co-author of his autobiography Peter Savage. Somehow they managed to bury the hatchet judging by hindsight but a fight scene between Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci is probably mandatory in a Martin Scorsese film, particularly if it’s about boxing.)

Jake LaMotta would often perform Marlon Brando’s scene from On the Waterfront during his club routines in the ring. (He actually did Shakespeare, but you wouldn’t expect a famous boxer to be into him. As with the fight with Marcel Cerdan, while LaMotta said it was the happiest moment of his life, Cerdan would die 4 months later in a transatlantic plane crash after agreeing to a rematch with him. What makes it sadder is that Cerdan was on his way to see his girlfriend, the singer Edith Piaf who was devastated.)

Jackie Robinson:

Jackie Robinson proposed to his girlfriend Rachel after he signed up with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. (Actually they were engaged in 1943 while he was still in the Army unlike what 42 implies. And the Dodgers spring training wasn’t held in Panama City, Panama but Havanna, Cuba, but you can understand why the makers of 42 changed that.)

Jackie Robinson broke a bat in the dugout tunnel. (He never did.)

When he was up to bat, Jackie Robinson was hit in the head by racist Pirates Pitcher Fritz Ostermueller which resulted in a fight between the two on the mound. (Actually, Ostermueller was a left handed pitcher whose pitch hit Robinson on the left wrist which he claimed was a brushback pitch without racist intent. There was no fight on the mound afterwards, though I would’ve preferred that over watching baseball.)

Jackie Robinson stole 27 bases without getting caught in his 1947 season. (The number of bases he stole during his rookie year is unknown since caught stealing wasn’t an officially recorded baseball statistic at the time and wouldn’t be until 1951.)

Jackie Robinson was the first black man to play Major League Baseball. (He wasn’t for the first one was Moses Fleetwood Walker, catcher for the Toronto Blue Stockings from 1884 to 1889, when the MLB officially erected its color barrier. Yet, Robinson was the guy who’d break the color barrier in Major League baseball in 1947.)

The Quiz Show Scandals:

Herbert Stempel’s time on Twenty-One was over when he answered On the Waterfront instead of Marty as the 1955 Oscar winner for Best Picture on the insistence of the show’s producers during his match against Charles Van Doren. (Yes, he did give the wrong answer on the Marty question despite that he watched the movie three times because he mistakenly believed that NBC would give him a TV job afterwards. However, Stempel and Van Doren would go on for another tie game before the latter won.)

Twenty-One’s host Jack Barry, Geritol, and NBC were all involved in the show’s rigging. (Contrary to Quiz Show they weren’t. Barry didn’t know anything about the rigging but covered it up when he found out. All the involvement NBC and Geritol had with the Twenty-One scandal is asking Barry and producer Dan Enright to change the show after the disastrous first episode. Without Barry’s knowledge, Enright opted to rig the show.)

Charles Van Doren was single during his time on Twenty-One and never taught again after the scandal. (According to a 2008 article, he said he had a regular girlfriend {not present in Quiz Show} and he actually did continue to teach after the scandal though is career wasn’t the same.)

Congressional lawyer Dick Goodwin met Charles Van Doren while the latter was teaching at Columbia University. (They actually met at the NBC canteen, but the outcome was the same as in Quiz Show.)

Charles Van Doren was a contestant on Twenty-One before the Soviet launch of Sputnik I. (Sputnik’s launched happened in October 1957. Van Doren was on Twenty-One from November 1956 to March 1957.)

Charles Van Doren weaseled his way out of Twenty-One by answering a question wrong live on air during the show as the game show rigging congressional investigation was underway. (Van Doren had already left the show by the time the rigging investigation began. However, Van Doren did throw a question but it was more of NBC’s choice according to him and show producer Al Freedman for they had already chosen his replacement.)

Twenty-One was the only show implicated in the quiz show scandals which lasted for a year. (It lasted for three years and Twenty-One wasn’t the only show that was implicated in rigging nor was it the first, though you wouldn’t know it from Quiz Show. Shows that were also rigged were Tic-Tac-Dough, The $64,000 Question, The $64,000 Challenge, and Dotto which actually set off the 1958 investigations. Nevertheless, the reputations of the key contestants on these shows were ruined and quiz shows virtually disappeared from prime time American TV for decades.)

Dick Goodwin played a pivotal role in the investigation of the quiz show scandals. (Though Goodwin co-produced Quiz Show, which was an adaptation of his Remembering America, he actually had relatively little to do with the investigations.)

Miscellaneous:

Homer Hickam’s dad was named John. (Contrary to October Sky, Homer was named after his father.)

The 1950s was a great wholesome time to grow up. (Despite racism, sexism, McCarthyism, homophobia, smoking and drinking, lead in paint, gasoline, and food cans, pesticides, pollution, conservatism, and threat of nuclear war.)

All adults smoked during the 1950s and had no idea it would lead to further health problems. (Actually only half of adult men in the US did as well as a third of women. Andy Rooney never smoked, for example. Also, doctors were well aware of the effects of smoking at the time.)

CBS producer Fred W. Friendly was a smoker. (Contrary to Goodnight and Good Luck, Friendly actually didn’t smoke and lived to be 82 though many of his peers did. Unfortunately, being smoke free didn’t make him as good looking as George Clooney.)

NBC’s Today Show studio was set in Studio 1A in 1958. (It wouldn’t move to its present day location until 1994 and was actually located further down but in the same building. Still, at that time, there would’ve been no windowed corner or a view of Rockefeller Plaza.)

The Reuben Sandwich was the only invented sandwich entered in a sandwich contest by Reuben Kay. (Well, some claim it was invented by a wholesale grocer named Reuben Kulakofsky at Omaha’s Blackstone Hotel in 1925. However, it was actually invented by one of Blackstone’s waitresses named Fern Snider who entered the recipe in the national sandwich competition in 1956 and won. So maybe we should just call it a Fern Sandwich then.)

Americans in the 1950s were prudes who didn’t talk about sex and didn’t experience until they were married. (Actually Americans in the 1950s enjoyed sex as much as they do now, they just didn’t talk about it nor were they as open to discussing sexual matters as later generations. And, no, unlike what you see on old sitcoms, most married couples didn’t sleep in twin beds {censorship regulations prohibited married couples in the same bed or the word “pregnant”}. Not to mention, after WWII, the Sexual Revolution was well under way with Kinsey’s books on sexual behavior {both which became bestsellers}, Masters and Johnson, the beginnings of the gay community, and the invention of the pill. As for premarital sex, it wasn’t uncommon for many women to be pregnant on their wedding day and the 1950s had the highest rate of teen pregnancy on record. Still, as for teen sex, it wasn’t very common since the prospect of a shotgun wedding was a deterrent for either gender but it did happen.)

You could buy drinks in Kansas in the 1950s. (Kansas was a dry state until the mid-1980s.)

The George Washington Bridge had 2 levels in 1952. (It just had one level then.)

Louis Bamberger was still alive in the 1950s. (He died in 1944 but he’s in I. Q. for some reason.)

Families with disabled children would often have them institutionalized because they didn’t want them to be seen. (Actually families that had a disabled child would often institutionalize them because conditions like Down Syndrome were so poorly understood and the necessary education and facilities for caring one in-home were few. A mentally disabled child simply had a better chance of getting the services he or she needed at an institution. It wasn’t that disabled kids were looked down upon, though that was true and some parents did tell their other children that the disabled kid in question had died.)

Suburban American homes often had sleek modern furniture. (Actually most of the average American family furniture in suburbia mostly consisted of heirlooms and antiques for furniture was comparatively more expensive than it is now. Not to mention, most Americans couldn’t afford to replace a lot of second-hand stuff they already had, even if they did qualify on the installment plan. Besides, there was no IKEA in the US yet.)

Laura Kinney found the Clutter family dead that fateful Sunday morning after the murder in November 1959. (It was actually Nancy Clutter’s two friends Nancy and Susan who found the Clutter family dead at their Holcomb, Kansas home.)

The 1950s era was a decade of conservatism. (Social conservatism, absolutely, especially in regards to sex and sexual orientation as well as the rights of nonsmokers. Yet, views on racial politics and gender roles varied by demographic but the status quo was largely in force in social mores and law books. However, the 1950s wasn’t a good decade for political conservatism in the modern sense, especially since it had been tarred by association by the McCarthy era early on. While we do see the 1950s as a decade of conservatism, most Americans at the time wouldn’t have approved the right wing antics of Fox News or the state of the Republican Party today, regardless of how much they would agree with them. Still, the 1950s was a decade of consensus where right-wing looneyness wouldn’t be tolerated. Both Democrats and Republicans usually elected moderate and bipartisan politicians like Eisenhower. Ironically many people on the political right today have a lot of nostalgia for this decade despite that 1950s American politics would’ve had no place for them, even among Republicans.)

Being drafted in the 1950s was an unpleasant experience. (If you were Elvis, but not everyone. The reason why the US government didn’t get rid of the draft in the 1950s America was more due to the fact many poor men saw it as a godsend, especially those who lived in areas where the only way out was a football scholarship. For a poor 18-year-old boy in the 1950s, the draft was something that gave him a guaranteed employment for 5 years with a reward for a college education under the G. I. Bill at little or no cost. Hundreds of thousands of men would’ve never had the chance to go to community college or attend good universities if it weren’t for the G. I. Bill. Many guys would sign up before they could be drafted so they could choose which branch they wanted to serve in. It was only during the Vietnam War when the draft would become unpopular enough to abolish. Yet, at this time, a military draft could be one poor boy’s ticket to the middle class and economic mobility, which was mostly true.)

Diesel locomotives went through Grand Central Station in the 1950s. (Actually Grand Central Station had only allowed electric locomotives long before then.)

Federal income taxes were due on April 15th at this time. (They were actually due on March 15th.)

Alvin Dewey learned of the arrests of Dick Hickock and Perry Smith while he was having Christmas dinner with his family. (He actually learned about the arrests on December 30, 1959.)

Perry Smith was substantially taller than Dick Hickock. (Contrary to Infamous, they were about the same height.)

TV personality Arthur Godfrey had brown hair. (He was famous for having red hair with his nickname being “Old Redhead.”)

The Interstate highway system was around in 1947. (It began in 1956.)

Americans in the 1950s were a lot more religious than they are now. (Actually while most people were members of a church, they didn’t necessarily go every Sunday. Even if they did, they were much more quiet about religion than churchgoers today and saw proselytizing as intrusive and unpleasant. Jehovah’s Witnesses weren’t well liked because of their efforts to seek more followers. Oh, and Christians did define themselves by denomination and would never have said, “just Christian.” Yet, many people on the Religious Right have nostalgia for this decade despite that most 1950s Americans would view such nuts as one notch above the KKK. Fanaticism of any kind didn’t have any place in 1950s America.)

Gay bars were quite out in the open in this time period. (They were extremely clandestine places since homophobia was rife in the US at the time.)

Frank Lucas began his life of crime when he saw his twelve year old cousin killed by the police when he was six. (This is entirely plausible as told in American Gangster but it was inspired by a story about his cousin being murdered by members of the Klu Klux Klan, which there is very little evidence to support it.)

California used an electric chair to execute criminals in the late 1940s. (It never has used the electric chair as a means of execution.)

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