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Some ways in which 1957 is NOT like today…

When we watch a play or a movie set in another time period, most of the differences are rather obvious: clothing and hair styles, car models. Others may be less so.

  • In The Family Nobody Wanted, Timmy Doss professes to hate girls; he’s made a list of 10 reasons he’ll never get married. Brother Ted tells the neighbor that this is why Timmy “is going to go to Harvard or Yale or MIT”…  I had to go and look it up–were those universities really men-only in 1957?  Sure enough, Harvard didn’t become co-ed until 1977, when it merged with all-female Radcliffe.   M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) was nominally co-educational since 1870, but women made up less than 3% of the student body until 1962 when a women’s dormitory was finally opened.   Donny’s girlfriend, Nan, is being encouraged to attend an all-women’s college like Barnard or Vassar. Vassar was Yale University’s “sister college” and attempts were made in the 1960s to merge them, but Vassar declined. Both institutions became co-educational in 1969.
  • In Act 3, the Dosses give an “at home” for their congregation. The term may be unfamiliar to us now, but it’s what we would call now an “open house.”
  • Donny and little brother Alex like to “mess around with a chemical set” and they specialize in making ink, in lots of different colors. Mr. Doss comments that they have enough ink “for the next 12 years”…of course this was at a time when many people were still using fountain pens, rather than the disposable ball points we favor today.
  • Donny pays an extra 25 cents for “special handling” of his package from Sears Roebuck in Chicago. His sister makes multiple trips to the post office to see if it’s arrived yet.
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