A Teenager in 1946?

What would today’s teenag­er find dif­fer­ent in 1946? How would she react if she sud­den­ly found her­self in that alien land? That’s the ques­tion I had to answer when I wrote Cher­ish, a mys­tery for young adults. (It’s now under con­sid­er­a­tion by a pub­lish­er so don’t look for it yet.)

One of the first things a teen might notice is—no seat belts in cars. None, not one. No car seats, no safe­ty air bags, and nobody was in the least con­cerned about it. They were too excit­ed about any new car, since there had been none dur­ing World War II, from the end of 1941 to mid-1945. And some of those new 1946 cars might look sus­pi­cious­ly like those pre-war mod­els. Names of cars one might see were Ford, Chevro­let, Dodge, Lin­coln, Mer­cury, Cadil­lac, Buick, and Chrysler, but the styles would be dif­fer­ent. Then there were oth­er autos no longer being built today. Among them are: DeS­o­to, Ply­mouth, Pon­ti­ac, and Hudson.

Of course, a teenag­er would notice the cloth­ing styles right away. No one wore jeans to school. Girls wore skirts or dress­es, except pos­si­bly on a spe­cial­ly des­ig­nat­ed casu­al Fri­day. Then she could wear nice­ly tai­lored wool slacks. Shoes were often sad­dle shoes or pen­ny loafers. Sweaters were a giv­en. In a large city school, the teen would want a dif­fer­ent cash­mere sweater for every day of the week. In a small coun­try school, one cot­ton or plain wool sweater to wear with a skirt, and trade off with a blouse and skirt ensem­ble or a dress was ade­quate. Peas­ant blous­es and dress­es were quite the rage. And every girl wore bob­by sox. For dress-up she wore the new­ly avail­able nylons and pumps with Cuban heels with her dress. She did wear jeans after school and on week­ends. Her jeans had slim legs that she rolled up to just under the knee. There were some­times region­al dif­fer­ences in cloth­ing fads. One was bell-bot­tom jeans. They mim­ic­ked the sailor’s bell-bot­tom trousers. That craze trav­eled around the coun­try, often pop­u­lar in one area and com­plete­ly out in another.

These are a cou­ple of dif­fer­ences a teen would notice. There would cer­tain­ly be oth­ers. What do you think a teen from 1946 would first notice about the year 2013?


A Teenager in 1946? — 3 Comments

  1. If I walked into 2013 from 1946, the first thing I’d notice is all the tat­toos, pierc­ings and green or blue hair.

    I guess things did­n’t change too much between 1946 and the ear­ly ’60s, because a lot of what you described also relates to when I was a teenag­er. Very inter­est­ing blog, and fun.

    • Oh, I did­n’t think of the tat­toos. Do high school kids do that now? I know I’ve seen a lot of 20 and 30-some­things, espe­cial­ly women, with tattoos.

  2. I agree Mar­ja, some things were the same in ’46 and ’60. In the 60’s we rolled up our jeans and wore skirts to school. They used to say our small town was twen­ty years behind the times, and I guess we were. LOL

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