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BOOMERNET Chronicle: 1948


Harry Truman caps off a contentious year in American politics by narrowly defeating Thomas Dewey for president in November. This major upset occurs despite Republican control of Congress and two splinter parties siphoning off Democratic votes. Truman attacks anti-labor legislation and argues for new civil rights laws. Further, he knocks Congress for failing to act to limit inflation or help farmers. On the military front, Truman ends segregation in the armed forces, but also feels compelled to reinstate the draft as tensions increase dramatically with the Soviet Union.

The state of Israel declares its independence and is promptly attacked by its Arab neighbors. Meanwhile, America, Britain, and France form a new West German state. The Soviet Union responds by blockading Berlin, leading to a massive airlift of supplies into the beleauguered city.

On the home front, radio is still king, but TV programming expands dramatically, filling prime time schedules on four networks, as both ABC and CBS join NBC and DuMont on the air. In other entertainment news, both the 33-1/3 RPM “long-playing” record and the 45 RPM disc are introduced, challenging the standard 78 RPM ones.

U.S. Facts

  • President: Harry S Truman (D)
  • Population: 146,631,000
  • Life Expectancy: 67.2 years
  • Unemployment: 3.8%
  • Average Annual Salary: $3,600
  • Minimum Wage: $0.40 per hour
  • Inflation Rate: 8.1%

What Things Cost

  • Automobile: $1,550
  • Gasoline: $0.26 per gallon
  • House: $13,500
  • Bread: $0.14 per loaf
  • Milk: $0.86 per gallon
  • Postage Stamp: $0.03

Major U.S. Events

  • Truman ends segregation in military
  • Peacetime military draft reinstated amid increasing tension with Soviet Union

Major World Events

  • Communists seize Czechoslovakia
  • Arab-Israeli war begins
  • Soviets blockade Berlin; U.S. and Britain respond by airlifting supplies
  • George Gamow puts forth “Big Bang” theory to explain origin of universe


  • Mahatma Gandhi assassinated in India by Hindu militant
  • Treaty of Brussels signed, leads to NATO
  • Truman asks Republican Congress to pass civil rights legislation
  • Supreme Court bars religious instruction in public schools


  • Congress authorizes start of $13 billion of aid to Europe under the Marshall Plan
  • U.N. establishes World Health Organization
  • Congress overrides veto of tax reduction bill
  • Organization of American States formed
  • Independence is declared by the state of Israel
  • Arab neighbor states attack Israel
  • West German state formed in American, British, and French zones
  • Soviet blockade of Berlin begins
  • Communist Yugoslavia under Tito breaks away from Russian influence


  • Dixiecrats and Progressives both nominate presidential candidates
  • Bell Labs displays first transistor


  • Truman defeats Dewey in one of the biggest presidential upsets ever
  • Margaret Chase Smith is first elected woman senator
  • Japanese war leaders hanged in Tokyo
  • First McDonald’s drive-in opens

Top Songs

  • Twelfth Street Rag by Pee Wee Hunt
  • Manana (Is Good Enough For Me) by Peggy Lee
  • Now Is The Hour by Bing Crosby
  • A Tree In The Meadow by Margaret Whiting
  • My Happiness by Jon & Sandra Steele

Other New Songs

  • Buttons and Bows by Dinah Shore
  • I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover by Art Mooney
  • Nature Boy by Nat King Cole
  • All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth by Spike Jones
  • The Woody Woodpecker Song by Kay Kyser

Top Movies

  • Hamlet
  • I Remember Mama
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • Key Largo
  • The Red Shoes

Top Books

  • The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
  • Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
  • The Foundling by Georgette Heyer
  • The Living Is Easy by Dorothy West
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Top Radio Shows (1947-48)

  • The Fred Allen Show
  • Fibber McGee & Molly
  • Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy
  • The Jack Benny Show
  • Truth Or Consequences

Top TV Shows (1947-48)

  • The Howdy Doody Show
  • Kraft Television Theater
  • Meet the Press
  • Movies For Small Fry

Major League Baseball: World Series

  • Cleveland Indians d. Boston Braves

Pro Football: Championships

  • NFL: Philadelphia Eagles d. Chicago Cardinals
  • AAFC: Cleveland Browns d. Buffalo Bills

Ice Hockey: Stanley Cup

  • Toronto Maple Leafs d. Detroit Red Wings

Pro Basketball: Championship

  • Baltimore Bullets d. Philadelphia Warriors

NCAA Champions

  • Football: Michigan Wolverines
  • Basketball: Kentucky Wildcats

Other Champions

  • Winter Olympics (St. Moritz): Norway – Sweden – Switzerland
  • Summer Olympics (London): USA
  • Boxing: Joe Louis defends heavyweight title and then retires
  • Golf: Ben Hogan is PGA player of the year
  • Tennis: Pancho Gonzales and Margaret Osborne duPont win U.S. Open
  • Horse Racing: Citation wins Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown
  • Auto Racing: Mauri Rose wins Indianapolis 500

Inventions, Fads, & Fashion

  • Howdy Doody dolls, toys, and related items prove TV and advertising go together, selling more then $11 million of merchandise
  • McDonald’s drive-in serves first hamburgers in California
  • TV sets (black-and-white) become widely available in sizes ranging from 3″ to 20″ screens
  • Edwin Land invents the Polaroid Land Camera
  • Cortisone is introduced as a treatment for arthritis
  • Haloid Company (later named Xerox) introduces photocopying

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