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In the year 1954, the United States was changing rapidly. President Eisenhower, a Republican, was in the midst of his first term. Eisenhower had just announced to the world that the United States had in fact developed and successfully tested the first hydrogen bomb some two years prior. Mamie Eisenhower christened the Nautilus, which was the first submarine to run on nuclear power. The great court decision, "Brown vs. the Board of Education," called for the integration of the country's public schools. Arkansas and Alabama refused to integrate and President Eisenhower was forced to send the 101st Airborne Division to integrate the schools of these states. The phrase "Under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance. Eighteen-year olds were shouting, "If we are old enough to fight and die for our country, why can't we vote?" The teens got a bill into the house but it was turned away by the senate.

New fashions were surfacing in both men's and women's fashions. Men were wearing Bermuda pants, baggy pants that were cut off at the knee, while women were wearing capris, tight pants that cut off just below the knee. Men were wearing tailored jackets and making a slight move towards the casual dress of today's workplace. Women were wearing natural shoulders as opposed to the heavily padded ones of the war years. Flat, neck-hugging collars replaced the mannish collars of the late 1940's. Waists were tightly fitted and skirts were long (Melinkoff 46). The jeans of the time were often lined with plaid flanel and dungarees were worn to the most casual occasions. The sandals of the fifties were not much different than the sandals of today.

In the entertainment world, On the Waterfront won the Oscar for the best film while its star Marlon Brando won the Oscar for best actor. Grace Kelly won best actress for her role in The Country Girl. James Dean and Humphrey Bogart were also creating memorable movies. Almost thirty million people owned televisions by this time so it was no surprise that America fell in love with shows like "The Ed Sullivan Show," "I Love Lucy," "Dragnet," and "Lassie." A meeting of the President's cabinet aired on television for the first time. The Miss America Contest was broadcast live on television for the first time. The price of a color television dropped to 1,110 dollars.

Rock Ð''N' Roll records topped the charts. Songs like "Earth Angel" by The Penguins, "Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight" by The Spaniels, and "Honey Love" by The Drifters. Bill Haley may have recorded the first rock Ð''n' roll record by a white person to become popular. His version of "Shake Rattle and Roll" was a huge success. The Midnighters were the most popular group in the R&B section.

In the 50's, America fell in love with the car as well. Popular cars included the '54 Chevy, the Chrysler Imperial, the stationwagon, and the El Dorado Brougham by Cadillac. Prices ranged from $2,500 for a Dodge with automatic transmission to $13,074 for an El Dorado Brougham. The car changed Americans' entire way of life. People no longer were forced to stay in the same town. Teenagers were no longer forced to stay at home with their family. Therefore, drive-in movies and diners grew in popularity. Commercial airlines were taking hold but a survey showed that only twenty-five percent of Americans had ever flown in an airplane.

A widespread terror of Red attacks and Red spies enveloped the country. The danger of the situation was exaggerated by Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. Thousands were accused of being communist with no sufficient evidence to prove that they were. McCarthy did not successfully prove any communists had infiltrated the government. McCarthyism began to decline after 1954 because of the end of the Korean War and the condemnation of McCarthy by the Senate.

In the sports world, Rocky Marciano retained his boxing title. The Cleveland Indians won the A.L. pennant ending the five-year reign of the New York Yankees. Joe DiMaggio wed Marilyn Monroe. The Cleveland Browns defeated the Detroit Lions to win the NFL championship. Also, a new magazine, Sports Illustrated, made its debut in 1954.

In other news, Ernest Hemmingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Scientists first began to link smoking cigarettes with ling cancer. The videotape was invented. Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was formed by the U.S., Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Pakistan, and Thailand. Gamel Abdel Nassar took over full power in Egypt. Ho Chi Minh and the communist party came to power in Vietnam. General Motors produced its 50 millionth car. Scientists observed that the universe was created by a Big Bang. William Golding's book "The Lord of the Flies" made its way into stores.

Unlike today, in the Ð''50s, teenage violence was not very common. Poverty was looked at as a part of life, not a problem to be fixed. But, just as today, alcohol was a problem. These three factors all come into play in a crime that took place in Brooklyn in 1954.

It was Monday, August 16, a hot summer night on the corner of South Fourth and New Streets in Brooklyn, New York. William Menter had spent the evening at a local saloon and had went to the George Washington Monument Park to sleep off a drunk when four youths approached him. Koslow, Mittman, Lieberman, and Trachtenberg approached Menter because they "had an abstract hatred and distaste for bums and vagrants" according to Koslow.

Jack Koslow, the leader of the group, was about six feet tall and he only weighed about 150 pounds. He was well-read and thoughtful and restrained in his speech and behavior. It was Koslow, the eldest at 18, who said without emotion that "park bums are no use to society and better off dead." Koslow seemed very convinced that he should have the right to determine who should live and even alluded to Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment" justifying the murder of an old woman. Melvin Mittman, 17, was a heavy-set youth with blonde hair and a blonde mustache. He was charged with being the brawn and brute of the four. Mittman and Jerome Lieberman, also 17, were both seniors at the Eastern District High School. Both were attaining good marks in their studies. Robert Trachtenberg, 15, was the tallest of the four although he was the youngest.

Apparently, with no actual motive, the boys approached the man with intentions of severely beating William Menter, appearing to be a park bum sleeping in a deep state of drunkenness. Police said that Koslow, the group's leader, was into historical leaders and the last great leader



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