The fifties were a time of great prosperity
and innovation. Order in society
was beneficial, too, until the blessedness
of our success surrendered to permissiveness.
Prosperity and pleasant smiles gave Ike
his popularity -- his businesslike
Administration brought us back a ways
from socialism. These were "Happy Days"
for most of us, the baby boomer age,
consumer-led, the calm before the rage
of Civil Rights and Vietnam. Ideals
possessed us, freedoms borne on wings and wheels
enthralled us, comfy suburbs (Levittown)
were home, and businessmen of great renown
revealed the merits of free enterprise:
the genius in the trend to standardize
hotels (like Kemmons Wilson) and our food
(Ray Kroc). Did such consistency exude
conformity? It didn't! People sought
a means of order in a decade wrought
with change and foreign enemies. Secure,
not soulless, were the suburbs. The allure
of travel helped Americans expose
themselves to Asians, Mexicans, and those
unlike the folks back home. What better way
to say it? -- Norman Rockwell could portray
our spirit, freedoms, and deficiencies
in master artwork. Yet despite the ease
of fifties living, there was culture shock.
Permissiveness was urged by Doctor Spock.
Religion lost its grip. The loose control
and constant urge to spend imbued the soul
of our society with wantonness -
a lack of toughness that would soon express
itself in sixties strife. Our nuclear
ambitions roiled us, too. The popular
consensus? Nukes in waiting kept the peace.
And Sputnik, challenging our expertise
in science, spurred a high-tech spending spree,
and NASA helped relieve anxiety.