50 Interesting Facts From the 1950s

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26Atomic Tourism

In the 1950s, Casinos in Las Vegas offered “Atomic Tourism” in which guests could watch atomic bombs being tested in the desert as a form of entertainment.


27. April 11, 1954, was the most boring day in history, according to a computer program tracking news. The most noteworthy events of that day included a general election in Belgium and the birth of a Turkish academic.


28. In the 1950s, a Catholic Priest named Gerald Fitzgerald proposed banishing all sexually predatory priests to a remote island for life.


29. In September 1950, the US Navy sprayed San Francisco with "harmless" bacteria to simulate a biological attack. The not-so-harmless bacteria caused a spike in a rare UTI, killing one man. A lawsuit against the government was rejected on the grounds that the government-held legal immunity.


30. In 1951, a poor woman named Henrietta Lacks donated her cells to science without knowing it. Her cells would be the first "immortal cells" that could be kept alive for medical use. They have been used for everything from creating the polio vaccine to cloning.


31Uruguay and Brazil

In 1950, Brazil was so sure they would win the World Cup final against Uruguay that the local media hailed them as "future champions" before the match and 22 gold medals had already been made with the names of Brazilian players. They lost 2-1.


32. In 1957, the KKK planned to set up a burning cross at a college in Alabama that recently integrated. However, because it was finals week, the students were all in their dorms and heard the KKK outside. The students then attacked the KKK with bats and golf clubs and forced them to retreat.


33. On April 12, 1955, Edward R. Murrow asked Jonas Salk “who owned the patent to the polio vaccine?”. His response was “Well, the people, I would say... There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”


34. In 1950, almost no cases of near-sightedness were found among Eskimo children. But after the advent of compulsory education, even their eyesight got worse. In 1979, poor eye vision was relatively high among Greenland Eskimos at all ages.


35. Between 1950 and 1965 the US military lost a total of 10 nuclear weapons, primarily in the ocean, which is still missing.


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36Rena Kanokogi

In 1959, Rena Kanokogi disguised herself as a man, entered a men's judo competition, and won first place. Her medal was taken away after her victory when she admitted to being female, but it was awarded back to her in 2009.


37. In 1959, rather than integrate, Prince Edward County in Virginia closed all of their public schools for five years. White children attended state-subsidized "private schools". No provision was made for educating the county's black children.


38. In 1955, evangelist Jack Coe claimed to have divinely healed a three-year-old of polio and told the boy's parents to remove his leg braces. This caused the boy constant pain, but Coe never faced jail time as medical malpractice did not cover divine healing. The next year, Coe died of polio.


39. In 1952, President Harry S. Truman gave the first televised tour of the White House. He explained its history, stopped in front of paintings and furniture to tell stories, and even played the Steinway piano in the East Room.


40. In 1957, the BBC aired an April Fools segment showing a family harvesting spaghetti from the family spaghetti tree. When viewers asked how they could grow their own, they were told to place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.


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41Ladislao Kubala

In 1950, Ladislao Kubala signed for Barcelona after getting drunk on the way to join Real Madrid.


42. In 1958, Alaska was hit with a Mega Tsunami that measured 1720 feet tall. That’s taller than the Empire State Building.


43. In 1959, the USPS attempted to deliver mail via cruise missile and successfully shipped 3,000 pieces of mail from Virginia to Florida in 22 minutes.


44. In the 1950s, the United States military launched 480 million copper needles into space, effectively creating an artificial ionosphere. The needles were meant to be used to facilitate global communication. It was called Project West Ford.


45. In 1955, the US designed a nuclear-powered cruise missile. The SLAM's unshielded reactor would sicken, injure, and/or kill living things beneath its flight path and its strategically selected crash site would receive intense radioactive contamination.


46Clint Eastwood

In 1951, a 21-year-old Clint Eastwood was a passenger aboard a Douglas AD-1 bomber that ran out of fuel and ditched off the coast of California. He escaped serious injury and swam 3 miles to shore.


47. In 1957, American singer-songwriter Little Richard saw a bright red fireball flying across the sky, which he took as "sign from God" to repent from performing secular music and his wild lifestyle at the time until 1962. The fireball actually was the launching of the first artificial Earth satellite Sputnik 1.


48. In 1958, while widening a road the RAF discovered that a fifteen-year-old display mockup of the biggest bomb ever used in World War 2 was not merely a mockup but was actually a live bomb.


49. In 1959, a pilot named William Rankin ejected from his plane directly into a violent thunder cloud. The storm winds kept him aloft for 40 minutes, pelting him with hailstones and so much rain that at times he had to hold his breath to keep from drowning in mid-air.


50. In 1950, a disease called Myxomatosis was introduced to rabbits for population control in Australia. It wiped out 500,000,000 rabbits, giving them skin tumors and causing blindness, often killing them within 2 weeks.

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