The Year Was 1959: Green Stamps, Swamp Coolers, and Unwed Mothers

The year was 1959. The United States recognized the new Cuban government of Fidel Castro. Charles de Gaulle became the first president of France’s Fifth Republic. The Dalai Lama was granted asylum in India. The movie Gigi won nine Oscars, including one for best picture. Popular songs included “The Battle of New Orleans,” “Mack the Knife,” “Personality,” and “Venus.” And readers of Fort Worth newspapers read these ads and articles:

1959 jenkinsIn the Press sports columnist Dan Jenkins contemplated phenoms.

1959 colavito

Cleveland outfielder Rocco Domenico “Rocky” Colavito had not been a phenom in his first season in 1956, but in June 1959 he swung his way out of a slump in Baltimore to achieve what only Lou Gehrig and Pat Seerey had achieved in the American League: four home runs in a game. The next player to hit four homers in one game against the Orioles would be . . . Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton in 2012.

1959 maplesHarold Maples, Star-Telegram editorial cartoonist for twenty-seven years, invoked his trademark flying sweat drops as he depicted Governor Price Daniel’s tax bill dilemma.

1959 biscayneHeels and wheels: A new Chevrolet Biscayne was $1,848 ($14,800 today). A heater was $51 extra.

1959 coolerFirestone stores sold an evaporative cooler for $84.95 ($680 today).

1959 pierceWebb Pierce, Trini Lopez, and Ray Sharpe performed in local clubs. The Bruton family’s Record Town gave S&H Green Stamps. Record Town had opened in 1957. In 1959 Stephen Bruton was eleven; brother Sumter was fifteen.

1959 tvOn the little screen, Channel 4 offered December Bride and Sea Hunt. Channel 5 offered Teen-Age Downbeat and Too Young to Go Steady. Channel 8 offered American Bandstand and Romper Room. Channel 11 offered Mickey and Amanda, Little Rascals, and Fort Worth Cats (versus the Dallas Rangers!) American Association baseball from LaGrave Field. This clip is from June. (On September 10 Channel 11 would premiere Slam Bang Theater.)

1959 drive insOn the big screen, several drive-in theaters were showing The Sound and the Fury and The Bravados. But the Meadowbrook instead was showing Unwed Mothers. Did the Meadowbrook management choose that movie as counterprogramming or as a buzzkill for its passion pit audience?

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One Response to The Year Was 1959: Green Stamps, Swamp Coolers, and Unwed Mothers

  1. Ruby Smithers Bressman says:

    Lots of memories….

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