Manners & Morals: Reeny Season

Bettmann / CORBIS

Two girls in rolled-up dungarees and sloppy white shirts turn up for a dance on the mall in Central Park in 1946. As the 1950s rolled in, the look became extremely popular


Neither war, rationing, nor the advent of the atomic age had altered U.S. teenagers' preoccupation with malted milk, two-hour telephone calls and jukebox music. All had kept right on jiggling. But with draft boards apparently locked up for good, and the bubble-gum market bullish, teen-agers were now devoting more time to the complicated business of acting their age. Certain postwar changes in tribal custom, language, taboos, wooing, peculiarities of dress and methods of transport were evident.

A considerable portion of the prewar fleet of ancient jalopies was still on its...

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