As the year 1954 begins, I am still in 4th Grade at Parker Elementary School in Oakland. I will begin the 5th Grade in September of 1954. I still collected Topps baseball cards but eventually I would collect all types of cards (if you put some cards in a pack with bubble gum, I usually bought them). I collected Football cards, Airplane cards and other types of cards.
I also collected Topps World Of Wheel cards. I still have some. These cards were originally printed in 1953, but they were issued in 1954 (with newer 1954 models added)
The Army McCarthy hearings were still going on and they were televised. The Salk Polio Vaccine was now given to children, the unemployment rate was now 5.6%, Joe DiMaggio would marry Marilyn Monroe, segregation was ended by the court case called Brown vs The Board Of Education and the 50 millionth GM car rolled off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan. Ellis Island closed it’s doors this year. The conflict in Viet Nam would now divide the country into North and South Viet Nam, Gamel Abdel Nasser would seize power in Egypt and mother nature would take center stage during the hurricane season. Hurricane Edna and Hurricane Carol would wreak havoc along America’s coastline but the biggest huricane of the year was Hurricane Hazel.
———————————————-Cost Of Living—————————————–
The average annual income was $3,960, milk cost 92 cents a gallon, gas cost 21 cents a gallon, bread was 17 cents a loaf, a postage stamp was still 3 cents, Clorox Bleach was 19 cents a half gallon, a T-Bone steak was 95 cents a pound, Swiss cheese was 69 cents a pound, Post Grape Nuts Cereal was 19 cents for a 10 ounce box and two 14 ounce bottles of Del Monte Catsup were 25 cents.
Burger King was in it’s early days (burgers and shakes were 18 cents each). The first McDonald’s was open in San Bernadino (burgers were 18 cents-4 cents extra for cheese, shakes were 20 cents). Also new this year were Butterball Self Basting Turkeys, Sports Illustrated Magazine, Play Dough, Bazooka Joe in the comics, M & M Peanut chocolate candies, the M & M characters and the slogan “melts in your mouth, not in your hand”. Kraft Cracker Barrel Cheese and Trix Cereal were also new this year. Also, Elvis Presley would walk into the Sun Records studio for the first time.
———————————————–The World Of Sports——————————-
In the world of boxing, Rocky Marciano was still the Heavyweight Boxing Champion. In the NBA, The Minneapolis Lakers would defeat The Syracuse Nationals 4 games to 1. In the NFL title game, The Cleveland Browns would defeat The Detroit Lions 56 to 10. In the world of baseball, Hank Aaron would begin his legendary career with the Milwauakee Braves (the Braves had just moved from Boston the previous season. The St. Louis Browns would move to Baltimore this year and become The Baltimore Orioles. The 1954 World Series would be between The New York Giants and The Cleveland Indians. The Giants would win the series in a 4 game sweep, but this series would long be remembered for a great catch by Willie Mays.
——————————————–Movies & Television———————————-
“The Creature From The Black Lagoon” would terrify movie goers this year while “Godzilla” would lower property values in Tokyo, Japan.
This movie would feature a younger Raymond Burr, a couple of years before he would become TV’s Perry Mason. Among the popular shows on TV this year were “The Jackie Gleason Show” (CBS, Saturday 8:00-9:00 PM), “Dragnet” (NBC, Thursday 9:00-9:30 PM), “You Bet Your Life” (NBC, Thursday 8:00-8:30 PM), “Toast Of The Town” (CBS, Sunday 8:00-9:00 PM), “Disneyland” (ABC, Wednesday 7:30-8:00 PM), “The Jack Benny Show” (CBS, Sunday 7:30-8:00 PM), “The George Gobel Show” (NBC, Saturday 10:00-10:30 PM), “Ford Theatre” (NBC, Thursday 9:30-10:00 PM), “December Bride” (CBS, Monday 9:30-10:00 PM), “The Buick Berle Show” (NBC, Tuesday 8:00-9:00 PM), “This Is Your Life” (NBC, Wednesday 10:00-10:30 PM), “I’ve Got A Secret” (CBS, Wednesday 9:30-10:00 PM), “Two For The Money” (CBS, Saturday 9:00-9:30 PM), “Your Hit Parade” (NBC, Saturday 10:30-11:00 PM), “The Adventures Of Rin Tin Tin” (ABC, Friday 7:30-8:00 PM), “Topper” (CBS, Friday 8:30-9:00 PM), “The Millionaire” (CBS, Wednesday 9:00-9:30 PM), “G.E. Theater” (CBS, Sunday 9:00-9:30 PM), “Private Secretary” (CBS, Sunday 7:30-8:00 PM), , “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts” (CBS, Monday 8:30-9:00 PM), “Fireside Theatre” (NBC, Tuesday 9:00-9:30 PM), “Arthur Godfrey And His Friends” (CBS, Wednesday 8:00-9:00 PM), “Life Of Riley” (NBC, Friday 8:30-9:00 PM) and “Pabst Blue Ribbon Bouts” (CBS, Wednesday 10:00-10:45 PM). “Lassie” (CBS show featuring Tommy Rettig as Jeff Miller, Sunday 7:00-7:30 PM). Tommy rettig would leave the show in 1957 and the syndicated episodes of this show would eventually be called “Jeff’s Collie”.
More TV shows from this year would include “Father Knows Best” (CBS, Sunday 10:00-10:30 PM), “People Are Funny” (NBC show with Art Linkletter, Sunday 7:00-7:30 PM), “Truth Or Consequences” (NBC, Tuesday 10:00-10:30 PM), “The Stu Erwin Show” (ABC, Wednesday 8:30-9:00 PM), and “Name That Tune” (CBS, Thursday 10:30-11:00 PM). The most popular show on TV this year was still “I Love Lucy” (CBS, Monday 9:00-9:30 PM). 🙂 🙂 🙂
References: “What Happened When” by Gorton Caruth, “Fifties Web”, “The Complete Directory To Prime Time Network TV Shows 1946-Present” by Tim Brooks & Earle Marsh and “Chronicles Of America” published by Dorling Kindersley.