Apart from the pioneering days at James Ruse Agricultural High School -
James Ruse Agricultural High School Pioneers Inc.
Gesta Non Verba { Deeds Not Words}
In Australia
  • The Australian population at 10 million, was half what it is today.
  • The Prime Minister of Australia was Robert G. Menzies.
  • The Premier of NSW was J.J. Cahill who died during the year and was replaced by R.J. Heffron.
  • Work began on the Sydney Opera House with the laying of a plaque by J.J. Cahill.
  • Qantas took delivery of its first Boeing 707 and set new record time for traveling from Sydney to San Francisco.
  • The Australian dictation test for immigrants was abolished.
  • Australia received the 1.5 millionth migrant since the Second World War
  • National Service training scheme was suspended (none of the pupils at James Ruse had to do National Service).
  • Brian Henderson’s Bandstand was one month old (launched to help give respectability to teenage culture).
  • ABC launched Six O’Clock Rock with Johnny O’Keefe.
  • ATN was the first station in Australia to install videotape equipment.
  • A microwave link established between Melbourne and Sydney to broadcast test cricket from Sydney.
  • Jack Brabham won the world motor-racing championship.
  • Famous people who died during the year included - Sir Ian Clunies Ross, Albert Namatjira, Jack Davey, Errol Flyn, J.J. Cahill, Dally Messenger.
  • Australia (Neal Fraser, Roy Emerson and Rod Laver) won the Davis Cup.
  • Macdougal won the Melbourne Cup.
  • The Princess of Tasmania inaugurated the roll on/off concept to shipping in Australia.
  • Australia resumes diplomatic relations with the USSR after the Petrov affair.
  • Australia resumes diplomatic relations with Egypt after the Suez crisis.
  • The first major hydroelectric power supplies from the Snowy Mountains Scheme commence.
  • My Fair Lady stage play open in Melbourne.
  • Myer Music Bowl opens in Melbourne.
  • A campaign for full citizenship for Aboriginal people began.
  • The Australian Reserve Bank established independent of other banks.
  • The American evangelist Billy Graham, began his Australian crusade.
  • John Laws can be heard on 2SM and syndicated throughout the country.
  • The film On the Beach (set and shot in Melbourne) opened in 18 major cities around the world.
  • NSW female teaches become the first women in Australia the get equal pay.
  • Jon Konrads wins all men's freestyle events at the Australian swimming championships.
  • Hit song of the year was Tom Dooley.
  • The NSW Rugby League Premiers were St George.
  • Australia defeated England in the Ashes series played in Australia, 4-0
  • The Soviet Boshoi dancers visit Australia for the first time.

  • The President of the USA was Dwight Eisenhower.
  • General Charles de Gaulle was the President of France.
  • Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
  • Batista (Dictator of Cuba) fled to Dominica and Fidel Castro proclaimed a new government.
  • Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash.
  • Cecil B. de Mille died.
  • The Dalai Lama fled Tibet for India.
  • Alaska was admitted as the 49th U.S. state.
  • Hawaii became the 50th state of the USA.
  • US Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev held a public discussion at the American National Exhibit in Moscow.
  • Sen. John F. Kennedy was a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.
  • First successful test firing of a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile.
  • Selection of seven military pilots to become the first US astronauts
  • Soviet Union's Luna 2 crashed onto the Moon as the first man-made object on the moon.
  • Soviet Union's Luna 3 took first pictures of the far side of the moon.
  • Mau Mau terrorists active in Kenya.
  • Self Government for Singapore.
  • Queen Elizabeth opened the Canadian St Lawrence Seaway.
  • The Austin Seven ( Mini ) from the British Motor Corporation went on sale for £500
  • British Empire Day is renamed Commonwealth Day.
  • Khrushchev addressed the United Nations on disarmament.
  • Xerox began manufacturing the Xerox 914, the first plain paper copier.
  • Microchip invented by Jack Kilby in the USA.
  • Computer Modem invented in USA
  • The world of architecture mourned the passing of Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • The first known human with HIV died in Congo.
  • The film Ben Hur was released.
  • The film version of Porgy and Bess won an Oscar for musical score.
  • Two monkeys returned to earth from space trip.
  • Mattell introduced the Barbie doll to a trade fair in New York.

1959 - What Else Was Going On In The World?
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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)
  • Pick-a-Box (1948-71)
  • 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
This page was last updated: August 7, 2015