Conspicuous consumption - especially in nervous times.
Idealized Conspicuous consumption – especially in nervous times.


. . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Life And The World – December 19, 1957 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

Even during the holiday season, we were never too far away from thinking about oblivion in the 1950s – and sometimes the doses of paranoia and holiday cheer came lumped together in one baffling package.

Take this one, for example. The NBC Radio/Life Magazine co-production Life And The World offered a rather strange piece on propaganda training for the U.S. Army in Germany, with one of the more truly weird examples of an imagined radio broadcast beamed at U.S. troops in an imaginary battlefield. After being reminded of how vigilant we must all be against subliminal suggestions from an unseen enemy, we’re catapulted into Christmas 1957, with thoughts on Christmas’ past.

It creates an odd sort of whiplash in sentiment, but that seemed to be the modus operandi of the 1950s and the Cold War era, which may explain the skyrocketing consumption of alcohol and the introduction of tranquilizers during this time period.

Some people look at this period with a degree of nostalgia and bliss and wish we could go back to it. I beg to differ, even the idealized depictions have a degree of false-ring to them.

Moral of the story: Stay in the present. It changes all the time anyway.

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