Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Wagga Wagga in the 1950s : "Quiet as the morgue"

By January  1950, Wagga Wagga had become a quiet and mostly respectable town, to the extent that its inhabitants felt it was generally dead as a doornail. The anonymous "Staff Reporter" (see above) felt that Wagga had improved somewhat from his first year in the town. The start of a new year was still a cause for celebration, especially at this time as it took the town further away from the austerity years of World War Two. A national debate about ending petrol and butter rationing was just beginning.  
So what was Wagga really like in the 1950s ? The pages of the Daily Advertiser provide a snapshot of a mostly wealthy, comfortable and progressive town with a reputation of being a little on the dull side.

But the future was arriving, with the newspaper announcing that "movies by telephone" were on the way :

The quirky side of Wagga also appears in sometimes startling, many and varied news items (also interesting to see what passed as news in that era), from the country beer shortage, snakes spotted in West Wyalong, the scandal of drunk, nude swimmers on Wagga beach, new Croquet lawns and a car inadvertently stolen twice by the same thieves.

Wagga Wagga held an annual Gift Race day, which brought an influx of people to participate and watch (the Gift included a cycling category). There was also a Boxing event which was always popular: 

What was on the menu in the early 1950s? Curried pilchards, tinned cauliflower and peas were another, perhaps explosive, carryover from the war years when people may have been less fussy about what they ate.

My favourite items from the 1950s are the clothing and other advertisements, elegant but somehow faintly ridiculous, like the sophisticated self supporting trouser, and the evening gown required for cigarette smoking.

This blog post is the first in a series about the 1950s in Wagga, and we’d like to know what are your memories of the 1950s in Wagga ? Do you have any photographs, favourite toys or books, movies or events you would like to share with us ? contact us at wagga.local.studies@gmail.com and we can share your 1950s memories !

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