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From Crockett hats to hula hoops

EVERY generation enjoys its fads. And years later we look back in amazement at what we wore and did in our younger years. Here we look back on two popular crazes which affected an entire generation in the 1950s. Remember them?
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IT was American frontiersman Davy Crockett who started it, although it took 129 years after his death in 1834, not to mention a little help from Walt Disney, to become a national craze.
For it was he who wore the coonskin cap, a style which would become part of the image of the Old West.
In 1954, Disney came up with a TV series called Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter. Its star was Fess Parker who, naturally, wore a coonskin cap.
Later transferred to the big screen, the stories were accompanied by a theme song which was hugely popular with record buyers of the day.
All of this led to young lads imitating their celluloid hero by wearing coonskins for those childhood games of cowboys and Indians, which usually involved lying in gutters wielding imitation six-shooters.
The hats were usually made of faux fur with an imitation racoon tail attached to them.
For at least five years the caps were popular, fading out as the Sixties dawned.
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LIKE Coonskin caps, hula hoops were nothing new when they took the country by storm in 1958.
Hoops had been twirled, spun and hurled by children for centuries but, thanks to the efforts of two Americans, were given a new lease of life as an aid to physical fitness.
It was not only kids in the streets who stood twirling the cheap plastic hoops around their waists. Mums tried them out too, it being widely claimed that they would help achieve a trim waistline. Actually, this was nothing new, for the ancient Greeks had originally come up with the idea and used it to help keep fit.
The hoops were a massive success in this country as well as America, the hula part of the name coming in the 18th Century when sailors visiting Hawaii noticed the similarity between hula dancing and hooping.
In two years, it is said that over 100 million hula hoops were sold worldwide.
Today, the hula hoop is known as the biggest and most profitable fad of the 1950s.

Written by The Editor - 09/12/2008 11:33:39

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