Education – a crucial element during the Cold War. It was feared the U.S. was falling far behind the Soviet Union in the area of education; that our schools were not up to expectations and that we were in danger of losing the Cold War if we didn’t do everything possible to further the cause of education and learning in the Free World – that was what President Eisenhower expressed, during a luncheon for the Association of American Colleges earlier in this January week in 1955. It was a major concern, especially in Science and Technology. It was hard to imagine to many people that the U.S., one of the superpowers and leaders of Democracy, was doing little to further the cause of education and the effort to improve learning and the educational environment for the country’s youth.
That was in 1955 – 61 years ago; times and attitudes were different then and we were still optimistic, even though the looming notion of an all-out nuclear war felt very real. We still valued brains.
And along with our concern over education was our concern over our place in the world – our Foreign Policy. Italy was the focus of attention in an address by Ambassador to Italy, Claire Booth Luce, who addressed a meeting of the Washington Press Club. Luce told the group that Italy was going through its most prosperous time, and that most Italians were doing better materially than their ancestors ever were. But, there was also a greater economic disparity than ever before and it was sowing the seeds for widespread discontent. Luce expressed (dramatically) that the situation in Italy was bordering on anarchy, and that the Middle Class in Italy was disappearing at a rapid rate. And this was leading to an increased popularity in Communism, and that was cause for major concern, not only in Italy, but the rest of the NATO nations. So on the one hand there was great economic prosperity – on the other hand, there was great social discontent. Another element in the Cold War world.
And there was Capitol Hill – the goings on in Congress – and an interview with Junior Senator Carl T. Curtis (R-Nebraska) over the atmosphere in Washington. Part of the weekly program Listen To Washington, were spontaneous interviews with various members of Congress. Fluffy and not particularly groundbreaking, Curtis is asked questions about the reported use of “snuff” and how his family members like living in Washington.
But that’s what was going on in Washington; what they were thinking and talking about, this week ending on January 18, 1955 via Listen To Washington from NBC Radio.