Friday, September 4, 2009

Shake, Rattle 'n' Roll: Laurel in the 1950s

Our current exhibit has been up since February. It will come down in January. The exhibit talks about life in Laurel in the 1950s including subjects as varied as fashion, the cold war, segregation, and Elvis. It has a little something for everyone!

But, we only have about 4-5 months left to Shake, Rattle, and Roll. I thought now might be a good time to share some of my favorite pieces of the exhibit.

This is a fox stole located in the "In Vogue" section of the exhibit. This portion of the exhibit discusses Laurel fashion in the 1950s. The fox stole was popular in Laurel.

I specifically like this object because it draws SO much attention from visitors.

From women who remember wearing a stole themselves, to men who remember sitting behind them in church as little boys, people who were alive in the 1950s remember them fondly.

But it is the reactions of younger people that I find the most interesting. For people in younger generations, the fox stole is a point of intense interest and sometimes shrieks from the school children. Children today are much less accustomed to people wearing fur and it definitely shows!

This picture is located in a section of the exhibit where we discuss the expanding lives of teens in the 1950s. I really like this picture because of the nicknames we found on the back of the image. In the center is "Butch". Butch is actually Maryland Massey, the sister of one of our founders, Betty Compton.

This panel is in our "Living Together, Worlds Apart" section. This section discusses segregation in Laurel in the 1950s.

I really like this panel because it uses quotes from interviews with people who lived in Laurel in the 1950s to compare life on both sides of the color line.

By taking the same events and locations and using quotes from different signs of the line, a really striking image of life in the 1950s is drawn. Black and white residents remember the same places in completely different ways--an important point in helping to tell the story of life in Laurel in the 1950s.

For example, one white interviewee remembered the Fireman's Carnival held every year as the place to be, "everyone came." One black interviewee remembered having to sit on the other side of the fence and watch the action--because blacks were barred from participating.

This panel is an image of a young family in the 1950s, their home being built, and their mortgage payment booklet. It is located in the "Feds Need Beds" section which discusses the influx of Federal workers into Laurel in the 1950s. I particularly love this panel because I know the people in it, the Wilsons.

I know how they came to Laurel in the 1950s as the family of a Federal worker. I know the impact the family has had on Laurel since then. For those of us who know the Wilson family, it is hard to believe that they've only been here for 50 years. In that short time, they've become a Laurel institution. So for me, this panel shows just how much of an impact Federal workers had on Laurel--they were here to stay!

I hope you enjoyed my little sojourn into our current exhibit. Of course, if you have your own favorite part of the exhibit, feel free to leave it as a comment.

If you haven't visited--learn more about the exhibit here:

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