(updated September 2002)
Is 2002 the year you finally turn the big 50? All the "older-then-dirt jokes" you told as a child will now come back and haunt you. And since you're here, you must really be in a world of hurt needing to be reminded of just how old you really are. So, since we already know this year you become an official "old fart," you might as well go grab those reading glasses and reminisce for a few minutes about what life was like in the U.S. back in good ol' 1952, the year you were born.
In 1952 our President was Harry S. Truman. He refused to run for re-election, and by the end of the year Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected as our Commander in Chief, and Richard Nixon as our Vice President. We don't remember Harry; we were too young. We don't remember Dwight for the same reason. But we all learned Tricky Dick's fate a few years later. Even in 1952 he was accused of using campaign funds for personal benefit, and subsequently made a nationwide TV appeal known as the "Checkers speech", explaining how he accepted a dog named Checkers for his daughters and wouldn't give it back. Do you remember too, that in our first ever opportunity to vote in a Presidential election, we voted in Mr. Nixon as President. That sure helps put things in perspective doesn't it?
Television was a big thing in 1952. Mr. Potato Head was the first toy advertised on television. According to the Mr. Potato Head website, he was sold in pieces only, and there was no potato. You supplied your own. The ad campaign was so successful, nearly a quarter of TV's advertising and programming would be aimed at children within a few years. Television was in its infancy, and so were we. While we're on the subject of TV, I Love Lucy was America's favorite TV show, and Dragnet won an Emmy for best TV mystery. "Just the facts ma'am, the facts."
1952 was a pretty good year for the movies too. Gary Cooper received a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in High Noon. The Best Actress nod went to Shirley Booth for her work in Come Back, Little Sheba. The very popular John Wayne flick, The Quiet Man, won a Best Director Award for John Ford. Any truth to the rumor that Maureen O'Hara broke her hand in the memorable scene where she smacks Wayne? Do you remember the toast given to Mary Kate and Sean Thornton at their wedding? "May their days be long and full of happiness; may their children be many and full of health; and may they live in peace... and freedom. In other Oscar news for that year, Cecil B. De Mille's The Greatest Show On Earth won Best Picture. Finally, in another bit of trivia, it wasn't until next year, 1953, that the Academy Awards show was actually televised.
How about sports? Well, it was in 1952, in the first TV "closed-circuit" event held in U.S. theaters, that Rocky Marciano beat ``Jersey'' Joe Walcott to win the world heavyweight boxing championship. In the Olympics the U.S. won 40 gold medals and finished first in team standings at the Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. Who won in Football's Super Bowl that year? Sorry, the Super Bowl would not exist for many more years to come. The Detroit Lion's were the NFL champs that year though.
Radio was very popular in 1952. Television had not quite taken over yet. On radio's Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy Show, Charlie prepared to marry guest Marilyn Monroe. In related events, Dick Clark hosted the first American Bandstand, while Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed organized what would be eventually recognized as the first rock `n' roll concert. Hit tunes for the year included Your Cheatin' Heart, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Glow Worm, and Jumbalaya.
On the International front, Soviet Jacob Malik's charge that the U.S. was using germ warfare was ruled by the United Nations to be out of order. Foreign minister Chou En-Lai had accused the U.S. of causing a deadly flu outbreak in Communist China. Nearly three decades before the famous scare at Three Mile Island, the world's first nuclear power plant accident occurred at Chalk River, in Canada. In Egypt, revolutionaries overthrew King Farouk and established a republic.
Other important events for 1952 included:
I am sure there are more events in 1952 that deserve a spotlight here. Do you have something you'd like to add? When was that Bob's Big Boy built on Sherman Way anyway?