What Happened When (A chronology of Austrlalia from 1788) Anthony Barker, Allen & Ubwin, 2000.
1959 - What Else Was Going On In The World?
On the wireless (radio) you could tune into:-
Australia's Amateur Hour (1940-60)
The Children's Hour - Argonauts' Club (1941-69)
Tarzan (1940s & 50s)
The Quiz Kids (1942 - early 60s)
The Air Adventures of Biggles (1945-60s)
When a Girl Marries (1946-65)
Blue Hills (1948-76)
Dr Paul (1949-71)
Superman (late 1940s-late 50s)
The Goons (1951-60)
Portia Faces Life (1952-70)
Life with Dexter (1953-64)
Eric Baume's This I Believe (1953-67)
Keith Smith's Pied Piper (1954-60s)
The Air Adventures of Hop Harrigan (1955-60)
The Children's Hour - The Muddleheaded Wombat (1957-71)
Some Popular Music in 1959
Oh Yeah, Uh Huh (Cole Joy)
Mack the Knife (Bobby Darin)
Beyond the Sea (Bobby Darin)
Dream Lover (Bobby Darin)
Battle of New Orleans (Johnny Horton)
You've Got Personality (Lloyd Price)
A Fool Such As I (Elvis Presley)
High Hopes (Frank Sinatra)
Put Your Head On My Shoulder (Paul Anka)
Venus (Frankie Avalon)
What A Difference A Day Makes (Dinah Washington)
There Goes My Baby (The Drifters)
Living Doll (Cliff Richard)
Travellin' Light (Cliff Richard)
The Three Bells (Browns)
Heartaches by the Number (Guy Mitchell)
Chipmunk Song (Chipmunks)
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (Platters)
It Doesn't Matter Anymore (Buddy Holly)
Shout (Johnny O'Keefe)
Birddog (Everly Brothers)
Misty (Johnny Mathis)
La Bamba (Ritchie Valens)
Bodgies, widgies and moral panic in Australia 1955 – 1959
In the latter half of the 1950s, concerns that Australia’s teenagers, and especially working-class teenagers, were becoming delinquent reached a crescendo.
Law-abiding citizens observed with concern bodgies and widgies congregating in milk bars and on street corners.
Violence and sexual license were their hallmarks, they believed, with alarmist and sensationalist media reports having established and fuelled these understandings.
Without recourse to reliable statistics, many people embraced the opinion that a substantial proportion of the country’s teenagers were uncontrollable.
Some advocated punishments such as sending ‘bodgies to the Nullarbor to work on a rail gang’, sending them ‘to sea under a tough [navy] skipper’ and inflicting harsh corporal punishment upon them.
Others, however, were more concerned about the adoption of preventative measures.
Parental alcohol consumption and gambling, lack of discipline, high wages and youthful access to unsuitable comics, horror picture shows, and after 1956, rock and roll music were among the factors that generated delinquency, they suggested.
Their views, popularized by sensational press reports, contributed to a ‘moral panic’ throughout the Australian community.
Although the moral panic that was especially overt in the latter half of the 1950s focused on juvenile delinquents and particularly bodgies and widgies, apprehensive people feared that ‘good’ youths could be attracted to lawless and antisocial behaviour, hence they extended their concern to all teenagers.
The social and political climate of the 1950s fuelled this community paranoia.
The fear of a nuclear World War was ever-present.
As John Murphy explained, two thirds of adult Australians believed peace ‘could not last beyond 1958’.
A fear of communism permeated almost every aspect of public life, at once impelling the government to improve the welfare of citizens and inhibiting the opportunities for critical dissent and creative innovation.
In such a climate, for older people who had lived under the straitened conditions of an economic depression and the disciplined demands of wartime, the rebelliousness of these teenage dissidents was both unnatural and treacherous.
In a world that had been torn apart, … youth became both the hope for, and those most at risk, in the attempt to create a different world’.
Hence, to use Stanley Cohen’s terminology, juvenile delinquents and especially bodgies and widgies were in the minds of ‘respectable’ people, ‘folk devils’.
Dr Keith Moore, Humanities and Human Services, QUT