Nostalgia: 1930's and 1950's


1930’s: Tysons Corner 1936

US Population:  123,188,000
Unemployment:  13,000,000
Car Sales:  2,787,400

The land of plenty was now the land of poverty and depression.  The average citizen had their income reduced by 40%, if you had not been completely wiped out by the stock market crash of 1929.  Shanty towns went up in cities and countryside alike.  The Southwest suffered drought and land erosion creating a Dust Bowl.  Many farmers moved to California giving up their land and dreams.  Laborers began to organize into unions as the decade progressed.  Dictatorships developed in Germany and Italy threatening their neighbors and overtaking Czechoslovakia and Poland.

What was happening during the 1930’s?

  • The Social Security Act of 1935 provided an income for the elderly. Farmers, whose only retirement came at the mercy of their children or by selling the family farm, could now turn over the farm to the next generation and supplement their old age with a Social Security Pension.
  • Social realism and art deco gained popularity.
  • The economy was larLadies at the Great Falls Grange awaiting a bus tour in 1936.gely regulated by the Federal Government.
  • FDR began many programs to put Americans back to work such as The Work Progress Administration.  Many roads and bridges in Virginia were built by this program.  Beautiful examples can still be seen in the Williamsburg area.
  • There were no televisions, Xerox machines, credit cards, and ballpoint pens.
  • It was a time when hardware meant hardware and a chip was a piece of wood or short for potato chip.
  • It was a time before scotch tape, disposable diapers, pantyhose, freezers, clothes dryers, FM radio, antibiotics, the 40 hour week and the minimum wage.
  • It was a time when coke was a beverage, pot was something you cooked in, grass was mowed, and fast food nonexistent.
  • Airplane travel was a novelty left to few, and trans-Atlantic flights were feats of adventure left to Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart.

    Construction of the Memorial Bridge in 1931-The control rooms are in the central pier of the bridge, parly below the water line of the river.  They are reached by a stairway leading down from the bridge surface.  Photo courtesy of the Library of VA photographic archive.

  • Hawaii and Alaska were not yet states.
  • India, Pakistan, Iceland, Indonesia, and the Philippines were not independent countries.

Popular Slang:
Tomato = good looking woman

Hoo-ha = a commotion
Canary = female singer
Schlepper = a beggar
Malarkey = foolishness 
Blat = newspaper
Phooey = nonsense 

Speako = speekeasy
Smoothie = person who is suave
Cats = fans of swing

Whoop-de-do = a commotionGoodyear Blimp giving rider o9ver the Capitol while advertising the San Francisco World's Fair:  1938
Horn = telephone
Hi-de-ho = exclamation of joy

Popular Slang: Big Tickle = really funny
Retroactive = very popular
Bobbed = shortened
Passion Pit = Drive in movie

Cop a Breeze = to leave
Fracture = to amuse 
Swacked = intoxicated

Futz = to waste time
er = a big wig


US Population:  151,684,000
Unemployed:  3,288,000
Car Sales:  6,665,800

What was happening during the 1950’s?

The 1950’s brought a huge expansion of American industry and products.  All those goods not available during WWII were in great demand.  Returning servicemen began new jobs, bought homes, cars, and started the Baby Boom.  America prospered while most of Europe continued to rebuild.

Tops Drive-In 1950's - Burger King is currently on this site.

  • It took three minutes for the TV to warm up.
  • 25-50 cents a week was the average allowance and the cost per hour for a babysitter.
  • Your windshield was cleaned, oil & tire pressure checked, gas pumped, and all without asking. 
  • Laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box.   So did many cereals.
  • Going to a restaurant to eat was a special treat.
  • Kids were held back a grade if they failed.
  • A ‘57 Chevy was everyone's dream car.
  • No one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the ignition of the car.
  • Doors were never locked.
  • People went steady. 
  • Summers were filled with bike rides, Hula Hoops, Kool-Aid, visits to the pool, roller skating & whiffle ball.
  • Products came without safetHoward Johnson Family Restaurant at nowPistone's Italian Inn.  tThey changed out the familiar orange roof for a bright blue one.y caps and hermetic seals because no one had yet tried to poison the public.
  • Being sent to the principal's office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited you at home.
  • Well known characters: Howdy Doody and The Peanut Gallery, Davy Crockett, the Lone Ranger, The Shadow Knows, Nellie Bell, Roy and Dale, Trigger and Buttermilk.
  • Milk was delivered in glass bottles w. cardboard caps.
  • Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside and candy cigarettes were popular sweets.
  • Soda pop machines dispensed glass bottles.
  • Soda fountains and TOPS Drive Inn were THE meeting place for teens.  There was one in Annandale located on the current site of Burger King in theAnnandale Shopping Center and one in Merrifield near the Drive-In Theater (later a multiplex) and currently undergoing massive revitalization with multiple retail, restaurant, apartments, and a smaller but quite exclusive multiplex.

    Myra Hunter and Evelyn Bean, waitresses at the Annandale Grill, join the Annansdale Parade with their decorated motorcycle - 1950's

  • The Polio vaccine was developed and distributed. 
  • Penicillin and Tetracycline were available by Rx.
  • Bobbi socks and poodle skirts were all the rage.


Popular Slang:
Big Tickle = really funny
Retroactive = very popular
Bobbed = shorte

Passion Pit = Drive in movie
Cop a Breeze = to leave
Fracture = to amuse
Big Tickle = really funny
Retroactive = very popular

Reproduction of this article or photographs in whole or in part requires the permission from the editor of the ENDEAVOR news magazine.

7-Corners Market at Arlington Blvd. and Annandale Road

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Reproduction of this article or photographs requires the written permission of the author and The ENDEAVOR News Magazine.  Photographs are courtesy of the Annandale Chamber of Commerce photographic archive.  (Copyright © 2012 Annandale Chamber of Commerce. All rights reserved.  (Photographs & images, on this page, and on this website, are not available for use by other publications, blogs, individuals, websites, or social media sites.)



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