High Hopes For the New Year

vintage illustration snow and cars

It was a freezing finish to the fifties and TV weatherman Tex Antoine advised everyone to just stay put in their igloos.

The last week in December 1959  the East Coast was hit with an icy, blustery snowstorm and it showed no signs of stopping.  Cars were at a standstill as Ford Fairlaines were replaced by flexible flyers. The eerie suburban silence was  broken only by the occasional sound of kids building forts in the snow drifts.

The weather outside was frightful but it was still the most wonderful time of year with the kids jingle belling and folks wishing good cheer. Despite the cold weather and the Cold War, everyone was filled with high hopes for the coming new year and new decade.

Never before had a country so heralded the future never before had a country so surpassed ones highest hopes. It was no accident that “High Hopes” Frank Sinatra’s upbeat song could be heard from radios everywhere that last week in December as people prepared for the gayest most glamorous night of the year.

In a few days the exciting world of 1960 would be upon us and even as a 4-year-old I sensed the palpable anticipation of that New Years Eve.

World of Tomorrow

 1960, that seemingly far-off world that had captivated my parents at the NY Worlds Fair in 1939, the very year they had been magically transported to, courtesy of General Motor’s Futurama ride, was now almost here.

My parents enthusiasm for the Fair-inspired future was infectious and like any good fairy tale, I loved hearing about it again and again.

Like so many, they  had been enthralled with the sights and sounds offered at the 1939/40 NY Worlds Fair whose theme The World of Tomorrow celebrated technology and progress. The sunshine of progress seemed to shine as brightly a s all the new glittering automobiles, gleaming appliances, superhighways  and too-good-to-be-true television that loomed in our future.

Old Horizons“, the narrator in the Futurama ride would say slowly  in his deep voice,  “opening to new Horizons!”

The future in 1960 seemed a glittering dream. My future; the one my parents dreamed about,

Tomorrows Living Today

1939 NY worlds fair booklet picture  man in space

By the late 1950’s, we were already living tomorrows life today.

Old Horizons had indeed opened up to new Horizons as interstate highway systems were being built and suburbs sprawled coast to coast.

The great roads of tomorrow were here today and the new horizons lay in the sky. As if contestants on the game show Beat the Clock, suddenly the Soviet Union and the US were in a mad dash to leave earth, their eyes glued to the skies.

Forget the future, the dream world of the future was overshadowed by what was going on now.

“Man is being thrust into the future even as he lives in the present,” one end-of the decade newspaper article buoyantly noted.  “Mankind has already had a mouth-watering taste of the meal that technology is cooking up. Such modern wizardry’s as plastics, miracle yarns, TV, air conditioning and frozen foods, once the dream children of imaginative inventors has become commonplace.”

It was a world of no waiting, no wondering, no defrosting, no fuss no muss. Everything was long wearing, fast drying, king sized, the last word, the most convenient, working twice as fast.

Mid-century Americans were the most envied people on the planet. You couldn’t help but stand and admire us. No other country so accented the march of new ideas; so advanced all other countries were out of style today.

On the cusp of a new decade, the “beat-‘em-to-it” urge that gave us snap-open-cigarette boxes, stor-mor refrigerators, kiss-proof lipstick and nev a break dishes would soon propel us to send a man into outer space.

Come All Ye Faithful

Despite the winter storm, stores had been  packed with Xmas shoppers, hordes of well-heeled customers knocking one another over for a record-breaking buying spree as the robust economy bounced along.

The glittering world of tomorrow was reflected in the dazzling display of Futuristic “ever-gleam” aluminum Christmas trees that could be seen in offices and suburban homes everywhere. Why suffer with an old-fashioned Douglas Fir when you could have one with luminous space age metal branches dramatically illuminated by a color wheel flooding the  tree in rotating colors of red, green-blue and gold.

Even Santa ditched his old sleigh bells for a sleek tail-finned convertible. Ring a ding ding!

We were ready to blast off into the soaring sixties. Now on the cusp of the space age, my parents prepared for a New Years Eve party that would send them soaring into the World of Tomorrow.

Stay Tuned: Remembrances of New Years Eve Past

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2 comments

  1. Pingback: Remembrance of New Years Eve Past Pt I « Envisioning The American Dream

  2. Pingback: Remembrance of New Years Eve Past Pt III « Envisioning The American Dream

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