What was life like in 1949, when Holden Caulfield was a teenager?

Holden Caulfield is a teenager living in Pennsylvania in 1949, what was life like?

Holden if he was a real person would be 78 years old, what would he look back on and say was significant in his life. What would he tell us life was like? What did teens do? What was their slang? What was the popular music? What was a preparatory school like?

Before I address these questions what the heck happened in the USA way back then 62 years ago? Well some notable events include:

  • January 11, KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh became the first local Television station ever
  • February 10, Death of a Salesman premiers at the Morsoco Theatre and runs an astounding 742 performances!
  • March 4, the first around the world trip ends in Fort Worth, Texas the plane lucky lady II a B-50 Superfortress refueled in flight 4 times!
  • April 4, NATO Defense Alliance  is formed in the United States!September 4,
  • Truman announces that the Soviets have the Atom Bomb! The Arms Race begins!!!

As you can read 1949 was a big year in relevance to the Cold War. It was a very cold year with record storms and snowfall. Now what was life like for everyday Americans specifically Teens.

What Music was popular?

From what I have read 1949 was the beginning of the Be-Bop 50’s era some of the popular artists of the time were Frankie Laine, Spike Jones, Vaughn Monroe and Perry Como.

What was their Slang?

Dame-Woman, Broad-Woman, Kisser-Mouth, Swell-Wonderful, Jalopy-Crappy car, Hardboiled-Strong guy, Heebie Jeebies-freak out, Keen-Attractive, Ritzy-Elegant, Scram-Leave, Cool-cool as we know it now, Stuck on-Crush on

What did Teens do?

Teens in the Forties would generally stray away from adults like teens do as well in our generation. Along with being with just friends they would go for walks, dancing and just generally enjoyed life, contrary to teens nowadays they did not par take in drugs as much as teens generally do now and in the forties couples and teens in general were a bit more “wholesome”.

What was a preparatory school like?

Living in a preparatory school as Holden describes it is not that fun or that good of a time. With little privacy and little personal space some kids would feel cooked up and become recluses through this sort of system. They lived all year in these schools except for on holidays. They took classes every day and had little free time from their rigorous schedules and learning.

-Patrick Armstrong&&Heartzzz


6 thoughts on “What was life like in 1949, when Holden Caulfield was a teenager?

  1. This is a great website, thankyou so much for such valuable information. most of the websites are crap… this is sooo helpful 🙂 THANKS oxox

  2. I’m an older person and when they used the word kisser they didn’t mean mouth, it referred to the person’s face. Keen meant more like something was nice. Or they might say keen on something meaning the same as they really like it or were attached to something. They used the word cool and swell interchangeably. If someone liked someone of the opposite sex sometimes they would say they were carrying a torch for them. No teen took drugs in the 40s or for that matter 50s either. It wasn’t commonplace like it is now. They used holy cow, gosh, golly as an exclamation, called girls dolls if pretty, used the word gams for legs, The word teenager was coined in the 50s so they weren’t called teens or teenagers then. The marathons and dance contests had come to an end. If someone was hard to deal with or odd they would use the word dilly. There was a lot of slang and some used it and some didn’t. Swell was used more commonly than cool until the beatnik era in the 50s.

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