The 1940s was a time of change, as World War II divided the decade in half. The fascination of the 40s is that it was the beginning of the modern era of consumption and commercialism, yet it was still a very simple time where family was sacred and the joy of life was found in one’s community.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was president until 1945 while the war was still going on, followed by Harry S. Truman. These great men led the United States to victory, and then economic prosperity beyond the war years.
Entrepreneurship based in household commodities, services and consumable goods started to pick up pace in the 40s and helped propel the prosperity of the 50s.
Women started joining the workforce in larger numbers, as many men were at war in the early 1940s. Women supported the economy and started to become more independent.
Listening to music was a very popular pass time, with big band music defining the decade. Artists like Tommy Dorsey, Bing Crosby, Glenn Miller and Harry James, dominated the charts, and their timeless music is still enjoyed today.
At the cinema two of the most iconic movies of all time entertained audiences. Bogart and Bergman’s stellar performances in the timeless 1942 love story, Casablanca are unforgettable, with the movie winning the best picture Oscar that year. While a Christmas tradition was started with the 1946 classic, It’s a Wonderful Life starring James Stewart. The message of that movie still resonates today, as family and community is seen as the most precious of man’s possessions and is representative of the sentiments of that time.
While nostalgia is about looking back through rose colored glasses, we should not forget that the 1940s were predominately a war time decade with many families struggling to make ends meet. The majority of men were gone abroad to war, with many not making it back, the 1940s was not an easy decade.
Yet it was a time when raising from the ashes, the hope and spirit of freedom gained strength and propelled a strong social and economic recovery.