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BOOMERNET Chronicle: 1954


The Supreme Court bans racial segregation in schools in its May decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. In ruling that “separate but equal” public education was unconstitutional because it could never be truly equal, the Court paved the way for integration and the civil rights movement. Thurgood Marshall, chief counsel for the NAACP in this case, later becomes the first African-American Justice, serving on the Court for almost 25 years.

Overseas, cold war positions stabilize in Europe, as West Germany is admitted to both NATO and the European Union. In Asia, however, Communist forces succeed in defeating the French at Dien Bien Phu, leading to the division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel. Democratic elections are mandated by the Geneva Accords to reunify the country, but they never occur. The U.S. government replaces the French as the primary supporters of what comes to be known as South Vietnam.

Television becomes the dominant entertainment source in the country, as 29 million households now have TV’s, double the number of 3 years before. Even though televison broadcast revenue surpasses that of radio, the DuMont TV network folds, since it is unable to match the cash reserves of the other 3 networks. Meanwhile, in sports news, the Philadelphia Athletics move to Kansas City, as the western expansion of major league sports continues.

U.S. Facts

  • President: Dwight D. Eisenhower (R)
  • Population: 163,026,000
  • Life Expectancy: 69.6 years
  • Unemployment: 5.5%
  • Average Annual Salary: $4,700
  • Minimum Wage: $0.75 per hour
  • Inflation Rate: 0.7%

What Things Cost

  • Automobile: $1,950
  • Gasoline: $0.29 per gallon
  • House: $17,500
  • Bread: $0.17 per loaf
  • Milk: $0.92 per gallon
  • Postage Stamp: $0.03

Major U.S. Events

  • Supreme Court bans racial segregation in schools in Brown v. Board of Education
  • N.Y. Stock Exchange prices at highest level since 1929

Major World Events

  • USSR tests nuclear weapons
  • Viet Minh controls North Vietnam


  • Pres. Eisenhower warns against U.S. intervention in Vietnam
  • First mass vaccination of children against polio begins in Pittsburgh
  • U.S. announces hydrogen bomb test on Bikini Atoll in Pacific
  • Puerto Rican nationalists attack House of Representatives, wounding 5


  • Sen. McCarthy begins hearing on Communists in Army
  • Roger Bannister runs 1st 4-minute mile
  • French lose battle of Dien Bien Phu; prepare to leave Vietnam
  • Eisenhower approves adding “under God” to pledge of allegiance


  • Vietnam divided at 17th parallel, pending democratic elections
  • 1st issue of Sports Illustrated


  • West Germany admitted to NATO and European Union
  • Immigration port-of-entry at Ellis Island, N.Y. closes
  • Senate condemns Joseph McCarthy for dishonorable conduct

Top Songs

  • Little Things Mean A Lot by Kitty Kallen
  • Wanted by Perry Como
  • Hey, There by Rosemary Clooney
  • Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream) by The Crew Cuts
  • Make Love To Me by Jo Stafford

Other New Songs

  • Shake Rattle and Roll by Bill Haley & His Comets
  • Young At Heart by Frank Sinatra
  • Mr Sandman by The Chordettes
  • Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight by the Spaniels
  • Secret Love by Doris Day

Top Movies

  • On The Waterfront
  • The Country Girl
  • The Barefoot Contessa
  • The Caine Mutiny
  • The High and the Mighty

Top Books

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle
  • Sayonara by James Michener

Top TV Shows (1953-54)

  • I Love Lucy
  • Dragnet
  • Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts
  • You Bet Your Life
  • The Chevy Show (Bob Hope)

Major League Baseball: World Series

  • New York Giants d. Cleveland Indians

Pro Football: Championship

  • Cleveland Browns d. Detroit Lions

Ice Hockey: Stanley Cup

  • Detroit Red Wings d. Montreal Canadiens

Pro Basketball: Championship

  • Minneapolis Lakers d. Syracuse Nationals

NCAA Champions

  • Football: Ohio State Buckeyes (or) UCLA Bruins
  • Basketball: La Salle Explorers

Other Champions

  • Boxing: Rocky Marciano defends heavyweight title twice
  • Golf: Ed Furgol is PGA player of the year
  • Tennis: Vic Seixas, Jr. and Doris Hart win U.S. Open
  • Horse Racing: Determine wins Kentucky Derby
  • Auto Racing: Bill Vukovich wins Indianapolis 500

Inventions, Fads, & Fashion

  • Davy Crockett becomes national fad; sales of coonskin caps soar
  • Tournament of Roses parade is 1st national broadcast in color
  • Oral contraceptives introduced (the pill)
  • Teflon introduced, for non-stick pans
  • Girls wear poodle skirts
  • Schlitz introduces 1st 16-oz. beer can

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