December 30,1955 – In 1955, as in 2020, the day before New Year‘s Eve fell on a Friday – the weekend was set aside for celebrating and the ever-present singing of Auld lang Syne. But Friday was the last day of the 5-day-a-week news programs – and this Friday in 1955 was turned over to reflection of our world as we were coming to the end of one year and getting ready to face the prospects of the new one, soon to arrive.
In 1955, America was still in the grips of the Red Scare – we needed reminding, over and over, that we were the greatest nation in the world, and that Communism would never get a toehold in the U.S. – and the stories, these reports and commentaries, were small celebrations of that claim. And so too, was the somewhat archaic viewpoint we were reminded of; that Women were second-class citizens, that we were a fear-based society, and that we were the home of the Best and Brightest.
Here is a snippet of broadcasts from the evening of December 30, 1955 – commentaries by the some of the leading journalists of the day, all reflecting on the year about to be over and hopes for the year to come. Interesting listening. Maybe strange by todays standards, if you aren’t familiar with it – but a slice of Americana as it was in the 1950s, during the height of the Cold War era.
We tend to idealize the 1950s – portray the decade in a sort of romantic bubble. It was a complex time. It was a time where the seeds of upheaval were being sown. It was a time where fear dictated much of what we did and who we were – it was a time for escape. But it was also a time of huge technological advances. So for all we talk of the 50s as being simpler times – they were far from it. Groundwork was being laid and questions were being raised – and 1955 was the middle of the decade.