13 août 2016

CHEERLEADERS IN THE 1950s : OH HAPPY DAYS TOGETHER !

FSU  STUDENTS  IN  1954.

After the worst tragedy in mankind history, that was the Second World War, people were eager to forget these horrible years of death, suffering and sacrifices.  They were hungry for peace, love and kindness.  A cure to heal humanity.  They were still afraid of the possibility of an atomic war that could be even worst than World War II, but all they wanted was to be hopeful and happy at home.  And that's what happened !


And love there was !  A lot of it !  With all these young couples founding big families of four to seven children, at least !  This "baby boom" was coupled with a great period of prosperity in America.  In the most powerful country of the planet there was a feeling that the american dream could be fulfilled...


After such hard times of danger and troubles, people seemed to cherish life more than ever before.  And they understood that it was important to take care of each others.  Religious beliefs, sacred family values, a strong sense of unity in the community, and a joyous spirit, animated these young Americans of the 1950s.  Then, moms were still "home queens", they stayed in the family nest, and the happiness of their relatives were their number one priority.  They were dedicated and devoted almost exclusively to their love ones.  That was the key to their own happiness.


But, whit so many children in the family house, mothers often needed help to take care of everyone.  So, the older children would look after the younger ones.  Doing so would prepare themselves to become good parents a few years later.  Family ties were strong.  Divorce was not an option.  Maried couples managed to find solutions to their problems, for the well-being of the family.  Maybee these were the happiest days in the history of America.  A good family life enjoyed by a new comfort provided by modern machines, TV sets, appliances, beautiful furnishings, big cars, etc.  That was the american way of life.  At least for the white middle class families.  It has been illustrated in television series like HAPPY DAYS (see cast, two pictures above) and FATHER KNOWS BEST (Thanksgiving, 1954, picture above).


The dynamics of this joyful life in the Fifties are almost incomprehensible today, in a society where individualism and materialism are so dominant.  Now, divisions are so numerous and profound between races and social classes in Donald Trump's country.  Maybee it was the same thing, back in the 1950s, but there were a lot less medias to show it.  Actually, in some regions of the United States, households of one person are more common than ones with a family.


Back in the fifties, with all these joyous baby boomers attending school together, friendship was in the air !  There was a strong connection between the students and their "alma mater".  They were very proud to belong to their college or university.  And to show their pride, it happened that a new activity became the rage on the sports fields and gyms of all the american schools : cheerleading !  With uniforms representing their school, these strong boys and beautiful girls were there to direct the cheers to support the "home sport team".  At the same time, doing so was great to promote friendship among all the students of the school; this important and crucial place where you were educated and prepared to become good patriots and good american citizens.


In the fifties, cheerleaders, well...the essentially cheered !  Their routines were simple choreographies with yells to incite the spectators to support their sport team.  Stunting, jumps, dance, tumbling would be progressively integrated in these routines a little bit later.


And these more acrobatic moves would require some changes to the Pom Pom girls uniforms.  Or is it the other way around ?  Changes to the uniforms allowed the cheerleaders to do more acrobatic routines !  Who knows ?!  One thing is for sure : from the second part of the 1940s (picture above) to the end of the fifties (picture below), the length of the cheerleader's skirt was cut by more than a half !  From just above the ankles, it went under the knees, up above them, and finally to mid-thigh.  A revolution !


Even if nothing is impossible today, it would be very surprising to see a teen student going to her classroom wearing a cheerleader outfit !  But it was not the case in the fifties.  Except for a few details, cheerleaders uniforms, at least for the first half of the 1950s, were almost identical to any girl's every day clothes.  Cheerleaders uniforms were still of wool material but slightly shorter.  They were tucked in blouses, or botton up and collared shirts, and cardigans, tackle twill with the school's letters and a megaphone.


The first "professional cheerleaders" appeared at the end of the decade, around 1959, with the Baltimore Colts, of the American Football League.  Some pictures show them with their pom poms, welcoming back the players after a game away form home.  A typical "home coming ceremony" in these times.  You don't see that nowadays.


Because, as I already said it, in the 1950s, people cared for each others.  To see the players back after a safe plane trip, in an another city, was a good reason to celebrate.  It was a proof of love...  

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