History Trivia
November 19, 2013 2:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm writing a trivia game for a birthday party. What are events from the 1950s through today that 60 yr olds would have a good grasp of that I would miss out on just by scanning through wikipedia?

My mom's turning 60. We're throwing her a party, and I'm in charge of a little trivia game. My mom was a teacher and so are/were many of her friends, so I can't ask simple questions like "Who was LBJ's vice president?" or whatever. I mean, I can, but I want this to be fun without insulting their intelligence. There will be prizes, so it should be challenging but answerable.

I'm looking for less obvious events, pop culture phenomena, quotes, songs, whatever...things from between the early 1950s and today that would be memorable to them but not necessarily something that I'd have heard or learned about.

It's for a group of women in their late 50s/early 60s. Bonus points for if it focuses on Western New York and/or Poland! And we'll be sprinkling in questions about my mom too, so if you have any ideas for funny topics there....
posted by troika to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm. How about anything related to Bump the Dump, where citizens of Allegany County (NY) successfully kept the state government from building a nuclear waste dump, 1988-92?

(I went to Alfred University then, and the issue was huge at the time. Professors cancelled classes, saying "sorry, I'm going to get arrested tomorrow." Books have been written about how the whole situation was a "model of rural community activism".)
posted by Melismata at 3:07 PM on November 19, 2013

My mom said that the death of James Dean on Sept. 30, 1955, was the defining pop culture tragedy/trauma of her youth. (Elvis's induction into the army on March 24, 1958, was a distant second.)
posted by scody at 3:12 PM on November 19, 2013

(Oh, and for the bonus round re James Dean's death: the car he was driving in California when he was killed was a Porsche Spyder called "Little Bastard.")
posted by scody at 3:16 PM on November 19, 2013

Maybe start here.

My mom is 60 and was a huge pop culture absorber when she was a kid. Twilight Zone, original Star Trek, Westerns, Hitchcock--she was ALL OVER that stuff. If your group has a nerdier bent, maybe look for stuff along those lines.

Put something in there about Grace Kelly.
posted by phunniemee at 3:18 PM on November 19, 2013

sports figures, depending on what teams your family roots for. as a charter los angeles laker fan (since 1960 when the team moved from minneapolis) i can remember the starting lineups of yore as clearly as the one today (and our primary adversaries in boston too).
posted by bruce at 3:31 PM on November 19, 2013

Here's a list of trivia from television in the 1960s. You might also find some fun stuff at this time capsule site.
posted by OrangeDisk at 3:40 PM on November 19, 2013

What year did color television broadcast begin? 1954
By 1959, what percentage of American homes had a color television sets? 2%
How much did the average American home cost in 1959? $12,400.00
How much did the average American car cost in 1959? $2,200.00
What did a gallon of gasoline cost in 1959? $0.25/gal
posted by Flood at 3:40 PM on November 19, 2013

Apologies in advance because I know these are kind of all over the map in terms of difficulty:

Lucille Ball/Lucy Ricardo was from Jamestown, New York.

I did a whole round once on failed vice-presidential bids, and really wanted to put one in about Estes Kefauver. Maybe, "Who won the the 1952 New Hampshire Democratic Primary (thus causing Harry Truman to drop out) after dogsledding around the state in a coonskin cap?"

I also had one in there about Jack Kemp winning 2 AFL championships with the Bills, but that might be too easy if people were around to remember the early 60s Bills.

What did Chuck Yeager nickname his plane? Glamorous Glennis

What Albany native sat on the 2nd District Court of Appeals for nearly 40 years until his death in 1961 and in the process became the most-cited lower-court judge? Learned Hand (actually, that one might be crazy hard, maybe just ask what profession Learned Hand had. Is it too obvious that I love the name Learned Hand?)

18 former Buffalo Bisons are in the MLB Hall of Fame. Which was the team's catcher in 1966 and 1967? Johnny Bench
posted by Copronymus at 4:03 PM on November 19, 2013

My mom's about that age, and she remembers Romper Room (the host had a magic mirror she could see the audience in), Howdy Doody, and Captain Kangaroo. Tons of western television shows were huge too.

But most of her vivid memories would be in the 1960s, not the 50s.
posted by padraigin at 5:11 PM on November 19, 2013

Who said "The devil made me do it"? (Flip Wilson)
Who was Tish and what language made Gomez go wild. (Morticia, The Adams Family, French)
Fill in the blank "I'd rather ___________ than switch" (Fight. Tareyton cigarette commercias)
Who said "One ringy dingy, two ringy dingy" (Ernestine, played by Lilly Tomlin, Laugh In)
This trivia site might help you.
Pinterst might help
Laugh In & Monty Python were very big.
posted by BoscosMom at 5:48 PM on November 19, 2013

I grew up in Denver and there is this. Maybe there is something similar for the town your Mom grew up in.
posted by BoscosMom at 5:54 PM on November 19, 2013

"things from between the early 1950s and today that would be memorable to them"

I'm 59, i.e., born in 1954. Things from the early 1950s are memorable to my mother. James Dean, 1952 politics, the cost of goods in 1959—those are history question for me, not memories. Grace Kelly? She retired from acting shortly after I was born. By the time I was aware of her, she was a "former actress", who had given up her career to become princess of a tiny principality, i.e., so boring.

I suggest you reset the timeline to begin in the early 1960s.
posted by she's not there at 6:08 PM on November 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Penny candy: red wax lips and black moustaches, tiny crate with tiny wax bottles filled with different colored sugar water, pixie-stix, Clark bars, candy lipstick, candy cigarettes wrapped in thin paper that you blew on and a little puff of powered sugar was released, candy necklaces.
Photoplay magazine, Troy Donahue, 77 Sunset Strip, Hawaiian Eye, Mad Magazine, collecting S & H Green Stamps, Father Knows Best, Gunsmoke, Dobie Gillis... and on and on...
posted by lois1950 at 6:16 PM on November 19, 2013

There's a lot in here, particularly under Pop Culture.
posted by duffell at 6:34 PM on November 19, 2013

Seconding she's not there. You want to start with the early 60's, not the 50's. The fifties are just stories, not memories, for that generation.

When I want to confuse our young interns, I show them a sofa arm ashtray, and ask them to guess what it is. They rarely identify it. Here's one example.
posted by gudrun at 7:12 PM on November 19, 2013

Kid's shows: Howdy Doody, Romper Room, Captain Kangaroo. Sheri Lewis. Soupy Sales. Bozo the Clown (depending on where they grew up; it was regional). Also Supercar!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:11 PM on November 19, 2013

Throw in some Cold War stuff:

Khrushchev being denied entry to Disneyland

China and US play table tennis

Van Cliburn wins the first Tchaikovsky Piano Competition

Fischer vs. Spassky
posted by TrialByMedia at 11:39 PM on November 19, 2013

Dag Hammarskjöld
posted by exogenous at 4:47 AM on November 20, 2013

What was the name of the little green alien on The Flintstones?
The Great Gazoo.

Who were the two actors who played Samantha's husband on Bewitched?
Dick Sargent and Dick York.

Finish this catch phrase - "My name is Edith Ann, and I'm _____."
"Five and a half years old."
(Lily Tomlin character on Laugh In)

Who's catch phrase was "Very interesting!"
Arte Johnson.

What was the name of Ann Marie's (Marlo Thomas) boyfriend on the show That Girl?
Donald Hollinger (Played by Ted Bessell)
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:04 AM on November 20, 2013

Felix the Cat. Anyone who was a kid in the mid-late '50s and had access to a TV should know the theme song by heart. (And yeah, anything like the death of James Dean is way too early.)
posted by languagehat at 8:22 AM on November 20, 2013

According to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, what are the two things that money can't buy?

Almost everyone knows "love".

Almost no one guesses "fun". ("Fun is the one thing that money can't buy", from "She's Leaving Home")
posted by John Borrowman at 10:15 AM on November 20, 2013

How about tag lines from old advertising campaigns?

- "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" (Alka-Seltzer)
- "A silly millimeter longer" (Benson & Hedges 101mm cigarettes)
- "Better living through Chemistry" (DuPont)
- "I want to teach the world to sing" (Coke)
posted by Daddio at 3:01 PM on November 20, 2013

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