Thursday, September 20, 2012

Party like it's 1951!

September 20, 1951 was an exciting day in my family.  For my parents, it heralded the arrival of their first-born (that would be me) and only daughter.  It was cause for celebration; one of many notable events that occurred during that year.  Okay, so my birth was only notable within my family but still...  As I celebrate my birthday today, I thought it would be fun to look back at some other notable events from 1951!

The average cost of a new house in 1951 was $9,000.  Can you imagine?  Heck, you'd have trouble today buying a new car for twice that amount and that would be the no-frills variety.

The 22nd Amendment was ratified, limiting U.S. presidents to two consecutive terms.  

The first nuclear bomb tests were conducted in Nevada.

The term "Rock N Roll" was first used by Cleveland DJ Alan Freed.

An American in Paris won the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk topped the NYT Bestseller List the week I was born.

Because of You by Tony Bennett topped the Billboard charts in September 1951.

Super glue was invented!

The Best Actress nominees for television's 1951 Emmy Awards included a familiar face from today:  Betty White!

1951 was the year Tupperware parties were introduced!

Pabst aired the first color beer commercial on television. (and the rest, as they say, is history)

Coast to coast direct telephone dialing began (without operator assistance) but we still had to share our party line with two other families.  

The first oral contraceptive was invented.

The first color television pictures were broadcast from New York's Empire State Building. (but it would still be several years before color televisions became the norm in most American homes)

The average cost of a gallon of gasoline was $0.19.  Wrap your head around that one!

The New York Yankees won the World Series.

Lillian Vernon first started mailing catalogues.

J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye was published.

Many romances of 1951 were in comic book format, such as Top LOVE Stories.  

That's a peek at what was going on the year I was born.  What are some of the highlights of the year you were born?  Because I love giving away gifts on my birthday, three randomly selected people leaving a comment today will receive a pack of books from my prize stash!



  1. Not sure what was going on the year I was born. It was a few years before you. My dad was still in the Navy, but WWII was over. I was the first born of the family and came amidst a snow storm in northern NY.

    July 10 – Princess Elizabeth announces her engagement to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten.

    Thor Heyerdahl's balsa wood raft, the Kon-Tiki, smashes into the reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands after a 101 day, 4,300 mile, voyage across the Eastern Pacific Ocean, proving that pre-historic peoples could hypothetically have traveled to the Central Pacific islands from South America. (Maybe that is why I was so fascinated with the book in HS.)

  2. Happy Birthday, PJ. The year I was born the UK implements the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Act and Angola gains independence from Portugal.

  3. Hope you have a very happy birthday PJ !!
    The year I was born had winter olympics, Tommy Cooper died & the space shuttle discovery had it's maiden voyage. I didn't know any of these and looked them up online. You learn something new everyday.

    1. I'm having a lovely birthday! Thank you!

      Isn't it fun learning something new? :)

  4. Happy Belated birthday PJ. Hope you had a glorious day.
    I was born in 1947. The year the CIA was started. Also the UFO incident in Roswell, NM.Harry S Truman was the president of the USA.
    A new house sold for $6,600.00
    New car was $1,300.00
    Gallon of gas sold for .15 cents
    Had to Google for this info. Interesting to find out what was happening at the time. :)
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    1. Lots of intrigue going on the year you made your debut, Carol!

  5. Happy Birthday PJ, I was right behind you in January 1952 so not that much had changed by then..LOL Things moved a lot slower back in the 50's
    Hope you have a wonderful day.

    1. Things moved a lot slower back in the 50's

      They did, Dianna. Except for me. lol!


    In 1959:

    - Alaska is admitted as the 49th U.S. state.
    - Hawaii is admitted as the 50th U.S. state.
    - The Barbie doll debuts.
    - Pantyhose introduced by Glen Raven Mills.
    - Ben Hur wins 11 Academy Awards

    1. Thank you, Marybelle! I got one of those Barbie Dolls the following year. Still have her. :)

  7. Happy B-Day PJ :) of course the biggest eventthat happened the year I was born was me ;) it was also the age of hippies & free love, star trek & suess' grinch were on tv (of color models were now popular) unfortunately vietnam & race riots were also going on at that time.

    1. I remember those events, well. It was a tumultuous time.

  8. Well, PJ, this was just a wee bit before my time, but I smiled when I saw that gasoline averaged $.19 a gallon. Twenty-five years later, when I started driving, I could fill the tank on my Mustang for only a dime a gallon more.

    The year I was born, 1960, was the year that Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" was released, Presidential debates were televised for the first time (John F. Kennedy was elected over Richard Nixon by the smallest electoral margin since 1916) and lasers were invented. Motor Trend magazine selected the Chevrolet Corvair as the best car, Chubby Checker's "The Twist" was the most popular song, closely followed by Bobby Darin's "Beyond the Sea".

    Happy Birthday, PJ! Have a wonderful day!

    1. Hi Cinthia! Isn't it amazing how little we paid for gas back then?

      I remember Psycho so well. I watched it on TV one night while babysitting my younger brothers (they were in bed). Scared me so bad I hid under a blanket on the sofa and didn't move until my parents got home! lol! Btw, I've never watched it again.


    My birthday is right around the corner ;)

    I was born on September 24, 1974...

    The Sears Tower in Chicago becomes the worlds tallest building.
    One of my favorite actors, Christian Bale, was born on January 30, 1974!
    Stephen King releases the book "Carrie"

    Again - Happy Birthday PJ! I hope you enjoy your day!!

    1. Thanks, Julie and an early Happy Birthday to you!

  10. Happy Birthday, PJ

    i'm sure what was going on when i was born but at my 29 years old, President of our country has changed for 6 times years old

  11. Happy, Happy Birthday, PJ!

    Since I refuse to admit my age, I can't reveal what happened the year I was born. Suffice it to say, it was a few years earlier than you but close enough to make me a child of the 50s as well. I too was the firstborn, a detail that still helps to define who I am.

    1. LOL! I had a feeling we wouldn't be getting any details from you, Janga! :)

      I'm a firm believer in birth order characteristics. They certainly hold true in my family.

  12. Happy Birthday PJ!!!!!
    I was born in 1962 on Sept 26 and I will be the big 50 in 6 days.

    1. Marilyn Monroe died
    2. Tom Cruise was born
    3. Medium family income was $6,000 per year
    4. A new house cost $15,000
    5. A gallon of gas was .25
    6. a soft drink cost .10
    7. The Beatles records their first single "Love Me Do"
    8. The first Kmart and Walmart opens

    1. By the way I am a middle child!

    2. Happy Birthday, Mary! Are you looking forward to 50 or dreading it? My advice is to embrace it and enjoy it. My eleven years since 50 have been among the best years of my life.

      I clearly remember the events you listed. Well, except the Tom Cruise one. ;-) We had a neighborhood tavern (like a pub) that was our school bus stop. Before 6pm, it was open to all ages. Many days, we'd get off the bus and pop in to buy a 16 oz bottle of Pepsi for a dime (we'd get a nickel back when we returned the bottle) and a Slo-Poke sucker for a nickel. Good memories!

  13. happy Birthday PJ! Enjoy the celebration. Loved reading about the events and prices of homes, gas and cars. Yes, things have changed greatly but I enjoyed the 1950's for the lifestyle, simplicity, and freedom to ride bikes all day, walk to the park and just live.

    1. I enjoyed the 1950's for the lifestyle, simplicity, and freedom to ride bikes all day, walk to the park and just live.

      It was a wonderful time to grow up. We were out the door after breakfast and rarely came back inside until dark.

  14. PJ - Happy Birthday!

    Don't you love birthdays! Not only is my 65th birthday in November it's on Thanksgiving Day this year! Whenever I celebrate a birthday I don't think of it as getting older but instead of like a fine wine that just gets better with age.

    Since my birth date is November 1947 and a lot happened that year I'll stick to November only! Some top events were:

    The 1st Aloha Week Parade was held in Hawaii (and it wouldn't become a state until I was in grade school).

    Howard Hughes Flew the "Spruce Goose" - a large wooden airplane

    Meet The Press debuted on NBC

    John Steinbeck's novel "Pear" was released

    Joe DiMaggio wins 3rd MVP

    Things have changed in all the years since.

    Where I grew up everyone used to walk to school, walk home for lunch, then walk back to school again. If it was too far to walk they rode their bikes or took a public bus.

    We didn't have our first (black and white) TV until I was in the 4th grade and could only watch it for an hour a week. We played the radio a lot to find out the news and listen to baseball games.

    My mother bought meat for dinner daily at the local butcher shop.

    Children could safely play kick ball in the street and safely go trick or treating at holloween wearing home-made costumes and you got apples or home=made treats from your neighbors and sometimes even a hot cup of cider.

    Best of all you knew all your neighbors and they were like family. So yes, I do miss some of the things about the "old days"!

    One of the things I loved the best was I was the youngest of three daughters. My Dad finally gave us in hoping for a son and I got to go fishing with him (and usually ended up doing all the rowing). I also learned to hammer, nail and repair just about anything! I must admit I appreciated all the things my Dad taught me when I got my first apartment when I was in college!

    Being the youngest meant I had more freedom to find out who I was and gave me the opportunity to be more independent than my older sisters.

    Sometimes my husband of 42 years really appreciates that but other times - not so much so!

    1. Whenever I celebrate a birthday I don't think of it as getting older but instead of like a fine wine that just gets better with age.

      Oh, I do too! Except sometimes my knees don't agree. ;-)

      Thanks for sharing some great memories!

  15. Happy Birthday PJ!. Since I grew up during the 50's everything about that era was wonderful. 1951 was a great time.

    1. I agree, traveler! And thanks for the birthday wishes!

  16. Like Marybelle, I was born in 1959. To add to her list:
    A loaf of bread cost 20 cents.
    TV's top shows were Gunsmoke, Father Knows Best, and Perry Mason.
    New slang included "a gas", "make the scene", "a groove", and "chick".
    Hit songs included "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" and "Breaking Up is Hard to Do".
    Also born in 1959 are Randy Travis, Bryan Adams, Linda Blair, Sheena Easton, and John McEnroe.

  17. This deserves its own comment:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PJ, and as the song goes, AND MANY MORE!!!!!

    I keep telling people that any age is a good age. Yeah, our bodies are falling apart, piece by piece (by piece, by piece, LOL), but we are lucky to spend this time on Earth with friends and family.

    1. I'm hoping for many more birthdays, Laney and I totally agree. We are very lucky!

  18. Happy Birthday, P. J. Cake and champagne all around.
    The year I was born, 1958, this is what was happening:
    Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.
    Arnold Palmer won his first Master's (golf) tournament.
    The Barbie doll was introduced.
    Gigi won the Best Picture Oscar.
    It snowed in south Louisiana, just a couple of weeks before I was born.
    Most important to me, the LSU tigers won the NCAA football championship. (GEAUX TIGERS!)

    1. Most important to me, the LSU tigers won the NCAA football championship. (GEAUX TIGERS!)

      I completely understand! :)

  19. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PJ!! (((hugs)))

    Like Julie, I was born in 1974...and like Julie, I love Christian Bale! ;-)

    In 1974, a gallon of gas cost $.55; a new home cost $34,900.00; a new car cost $3,750.00; Richard Nixon was the first president forced to resign; pocket calculators start to appear in stores; MRI was developed in the US; Blazing Saddles and The Exorcist were popular films; Leonardo DiCaprio and Alanis Morissette were born.

    1. Blazing Saddles and The Exorcist were both films that I saw in 1974. I kept my eyes closed during most of The Exorcist and though I laughed my way through most of Blazing Saddles what I remember most was the group of indignant "old" ladies who stormed out of the theater in a huff about ten minutes into the film. Looking back, I realize they were probably about the age I am now! lol!

  20. Happy Birthday!!! You are a year younger than me!! So a lot of the same things were happening. I picked something out that happened in the end of November when I was born: A phenomenal winter storm ravages the northeastern United States, brings 30 to 50 inches of snow, temperatures below zero, and kills 323 people. My mother actually got brought to the hospital in a herse!!! It was the only vehicle available that could travel the roads - thank goodness I waited just long enough for her to make it to the hospital!

    1. Wow! I don't remember ever learning about that storm. How awful! I can't imagine what it must have been like for your mom; about to bring a new life into the world and traveling to the hospital in a hearse!

  21. Happy Birthday, PJ! You are just a baby compared to me! I'm was born in 1946 - the start of the baby boomers. Tide was introduced. Electric clothes dryers were introduced. The bikini was introduced as was the strapless bra. Suntan lotions were marketed to consumers and the Xerographic photocopying process was invented. It was a busy year!

    Hope yours is a fabulous and record setting birthday. :-)

    1. It's been a wonderful birthday, Connie. Thank you!

  22. Happy Birthday PJ! I hope you have a wonderful day. The year I was born JFK was assassinated.

    1. The year I was born JFK was assassinated.

      An event I remember all too well.

  23. I've only heard of these Tupperware parties but it would be something to attend one. Have a wonderful birthday, PJ! I hope some of your wishes come true :) I had a lot of fun looking up things for the year I was born. I found that in 1986 1 gallon of gas 89 cents, and that year IMB introduced the first laptop computer. We've come a long way because computers are so much a part of our lives!

    1. My mom sold Tupperware for a while so I've probably been to more parties than most. They were fun!

  24. I'm a September baby too - September 6th - which was actually a Monday & Labor Day that year.
    so I looked up my birth Year & found that Wikepedia has a great list for every year.
    The year I was born:
    - Scrabble debuted
    - 'Ike' was President
    - Winston Churchill resigned
    - Disney's 'Lady & the Tramp' premiered
    - Disneyland opened
    - Hurricane Diane hit the Northeast - hmmm - always wondered where my name came from
    - Mickey Mouse Club debuted

    It was a big year for Disney - maybe that's why I've always loved it.

    1. Happy Birthday, Di! Definitely a Disney year! :)

  25. Happy Birthday!!!!!!! Here's wishing you many many more and all the books you could ever want along with a hot guy in a kilt to fan you and feed you grapes while you read :)

    In 1980:
    *Mt. St. Helen erupted
    *Ronald Reagan was elected president for the 1st time
    *John Lennon was shot and killed
    *Who shot JR?
    *The Empire Strikes Back was released

    1. Here's wishing you many many more and all the books you could ever want along with a hot guy in a kilt to fan you and feed you grapes while you read :)

      Thanks, Erin! I like the way you wish! :)

  26. Happy Birthday! There is one event that happened the year I was born that I can remember off the top of my head and that is that Coal Miner's Daughter was released in theaters. It's the first movie I ever saw in a theater. :)


  27. Happy birthday!! Lot's fun, good reads, blessing and happiness.

  28. Happy, happy birthday, PJ!
    Those same things were happening the year I was born, too, because, I was born in March, 1951.
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    1. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

      You're welcome! 1951 seems to be a popular year for the birth of romance fans! ;-)

    2. So it seems! I hope you had a fabulous day!

  29. Third born & baby... 1952... The Today Show premiered January 14th...
    Congrats on your birthday & many more... all the more to annoy your younger siblings!

    1. Congrats on your birthday & many more... all the more to annoy your younger siblings!

      I like the way you think! :)

    Have one heck of a beautiful day!!

  31. Happy Birthday PJ, hope you have a fantastic day.
    Well, since I too was born in 1951, I'll just claim all those that you just listed. :D You're just a bit over a month older than me, I was born November 1. I sure remember having a party line, what a drag to have to wait to use the phone until the family you shared the line with got off it. Also, on the day I was born the 1st atomic explosion was witnessed by troops in NM, as well as the first nuclear test in Nevada.

    1. Happy upcoming birthday, Barbara!

      We shared our party line with one other family and an elderly single lady. Sometimes it felt like all that lady did was talk on the phone!

  32. Tupperware and you! What's better than that? :)

    Happy Birthday, PJ! *<:) I put on a birthday hat for you.

    1967: Twiggy was a fashion sensation.
    "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band" album was released.
    "The Graduate" Bonnie and Clyde" and "Cool Hand Luke" were produced.
    Average Cost of new house $14,250.00.
    Gas per Gallon 33 cents.
    Polaroid Camera History$50.00.
    The Federal Minimum Wage is increased to $1.40 an hour.
    Interracial Marriage is declared constitutional by The Supreme Court in the "Loving v. Virginia" case and barred Virginia and by implication other states from making interracial marriage a crime.
    Ten of thousands of Vietnam War protesters march in Washington, D.C.
    Elvis Presley Marries Priscilla.
    Carrol Shelby Mustang GT-500 Fastback was released.
    The first ATM ( Automatic Teller Machine ) is put into service in Barclays Bank in London.

    1. Wow! A birthday hat! I'm honored! :)

      1967. Now that was a very good year! "Light My Fire" by the Doors, "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" by Frankie Valli and my very first summer love. Ahhhhh....memories. :)

  33. Happy Birthday and have many more.

    1955 Elvis Presley's 1st TV appearance on "Louisiana Hayride" show

  34. Happy belated birthday ! Don't know too much about what happened in the year I was born. Read at wikipedia that the 1 doolar coin was introduced in Australia & the olympic games are held in Los Angeles.



  36. Happy Belated Birthday. I hope you had a nice day.

  37. Happy Belated Birthday! I was born in 1952. Here are some of the happenings at that time:

    Harry S. Truman was President until Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected 34th President of the US in NOvember.
    KIng George V6 of England died and Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen of England.
    The hydrogen bomb was detonated for the first time.
    Albert Schweitzer won the Nobel Peace Prize.
    Herman Wouk was the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for The Caine Mutiny.
    Ernest Hemingway's novel The Old Man and the Sea was published.
    1952 was a leap year.

  38. Congrats m, I was born whoo, have a great weeken all