Looking Back! 1954

From Gary:  I have put an enormous effort into the next 6 posts.  I will try to take you back and let you see, through my eyes, just what it was like being a teenager in the Fifties.  I really hope that you enjoy…
Looking Back
Willowdale, Ontario, Canada
The Rear-View Mirror

This was my first year of High School: Earl Haig Collegiate. The school motto was “Carpe Diem” which meant “Seize the day”. To me this was all about girls, fun & girls, dancing & girls and the  MUSIC  I would love for the next 58 years. 

My parents where not wealthy, but they where fantastic, so I always had a part time job.  In 1954, I was an Usher at the Willow Theatre, low pay, but I saw all of the movies and met girls (which was an omen of things to come). 

Willow Theatre

Theoretically the “Teenager” was born in 1953 or so the demographics tell me: a young person with some disposable income that had an effect on the clothing styles, food, music and other markets.

Some of the things I remember from 1954:

1.   Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio

Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe

2.   The Salk vaccine for Polio was first administered

3.   The first Atomic Sub, the “Nautilus”, was launched

Launching of The Nautilus

4.   RCA sold the first “Colour” TV sets, and 45 rpm records started to gain on 78 rpm records

5.   Ponytails for girls, Duck Tail Haircuts and Flat Tops for guys.

6.  Elvis, with Scotty Moore and Bill Black, record “That’s All Right Mama” at Sun Records in Memphis

7.   Johnny Ace (Pledging My Love) accidentally shot himself and died the next day.


1.   Academy Awards:

Best Actor/ Marlon Brando “On the Waterfront”

Best Actress/ Grace Kelly “The Country Girl” 

Best Picture/ On the Waterfront

Best Song Three Coins in the Fountain


Gary’s Favourite Movie from 54 was Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock) James Stewart & Grace Kelly




1.  Dragnet


2.  I Love Lucy


3.  Toast of the Town (Ed Sullivan)


4.  The Jack Benny Show


5.  The Jackie Gleason Show


6.  The George Gobel Show

George Gobel


7.  You Bet Your Life

George Fenneman and Grouch Marx


World Series:  New York Giants beat Cleveland Indians 4 straight2.  Football:  Cleveland Browns Beat Detroit Lions 56 to 103.  Hockey NHL:  Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup from the Montreal Canadiens

Some of the Songs I remember from 1954:

1.  Fats Domino/ You Done Me Wrong
2. The Crows/ Gee
crows.jpg (71596 bytes)
3. The Crew Cuts/ Crazy ‘Bout you,Baby
4. Big Joe Turner/ Honey Hush
5.  Sh-Boom/The Chords/The Crew Cuts
chords.jpg (5098 bytes)
6.  Lavern Baker/ Tweedle Dee
7.  Hank Ballard and the Midnighters/ Work with me Annie
midnighters.jpg (4528 bytes)
8.  Rock around the Clock/ Bill Haley and the Comets
9.  That’s All Right Mama/Elvis Presley
10. Pledging My Love/ Johnny Ace
11.  The Chordettes/ Mr. Sandman

6 responses to “Looking Back! 1954

  1. Interesting looking-back-to-see postings, particularly the photo of the Willow Theater. I presume you took this in 1954 when you were working
    there. Do you have others? Can’t make out the titles on the marquee.

    • Andy: Both Russ and I worked at the Willow Theatre, but we did not know each other. The picture is just one we had and in looking closely at it, I think it is late 60’s. The P is gone from the top, it was a member of Premier Theatres and the cars are late sixties. Sorry I could not be of more help. I was at the Willow from 1953 through early 1956. The owner was Larry Allen and Head Usher was Bill Robinson, that I do remember. If you are a fan of movies you will enjoy the next posts.

  2. Gary, how do you remember all this stuff? I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast unless I write it down.

    • Earl: I too suffer from memory loss, so when I decided to take on this project 54 through 59, I did indeed ask some of my older friends regarding time lines and I’m still not sure that I have everything correct. My main incentive is the music, I remember the song, then I remember the time, then try to put a life around it. It sometimes is sketchy, but I loved the Birth of Rock and Roll and the great times it brought with it. Russ is absolutely no help, he cannot remember where he parked his car, he’s been blowing that sax too long, just kidding. Sometimes all I need is a name to help me and some of my “Old” friends where a help and others cannot remember last week, but that is what getting old is all about. I hope you enjoy the series, I probably spent over 100 hours, in finding music, cars, hair styles and try to remember what I was doing. I am retired, music is a hobby and sometimes a curse, because nobody really cares who wrote “Poor Little Fool” for Rick Nelson, just me.

  3. I too remember 1954. I wasn’t yet a teenager and waited impatiently to become one. I’ve since learned not to wish the years away so quickly. I vividly recall three movies from that year that each made impacts on my life: My favorite was White Christmas with its wonderful Irving Berlin songs sung by Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Vera-Ellen. The colors, costumes, and sets were vibrant and larger than life. That movie would set the bar for many holiday seasons to come. The second was the John Wayne classic, The High and the Mighty, with it’s haunting title tune. It was the film that scared me about flying for years. The last movie I remember was the Lucy and Desi comedy, The Long, Long Trailer. That film that convinced me never to buy a trailer and go RVing. Yes, 1954 would begin a series of landmark years that would influence my life. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  4. 1954 – The year I dropped out of Earl Haig without a diploma of any kind.
    Our group had limited interests that included drinking sex and fighting not in any order. I turned 16 in Nov of that year and our second home was the Willowdale restaurant ( the Coffee cup in the next block was considered a place where the twits ,dweebs and white buck crowd gathered.) No offence intended. By the end of the year my nose was broken, had been arrested for underage drinking and established a reputation for fighting. Don’t give up on me…. The light went on and I served an apprenticeship and became a skilled tradesman serving as Journeyman, foreman and general foreman, leaving my mark on the skyline of Toronto, Ontario and Quebec. I learned not to fight unless necessary and drink seldom.I guess you could say I graduated from the rough and tough school,far from it, I have developed eclectic interests including my taste in music that runs from opera to blues except rap which is rather like the Bob and Ray no talent show. ( anybody remember BoB and Ray from the days of radio.) I have learned never to take life too seriously and consider a good laugh is worth its weight in gold

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