The Watcher, the Launch and the Horsecollar Grill: 1958 Walk-thru

Posted by on March 18, 2009

Hello again everyone!

While spring is rapidly coming to Central Ohio, our series on 1958 continues forward. Today we will open our series with a variety of topics, from Sputnik to Von Braun and the Edsel. First however, I want to introduce you to a new media object for the blog. I will start to incorporate views from the Google Book Search into the blog where appropriate. Today’s example is below. Let me know what you think….

For now, let’s take a look at the news of the day for 1958:


January of 1958 saw several firsts for the year, including the returning to earth of the small silvery satellite known as Sputnik. While it’s ultimate scientific value remains doubtful to my way of thinking, we cannot deny the political and propaganda purpose of this machine. This alone accelerated quite rapidly the growing competition between the Soviet Union and the United States. This would prove incentive enough for the U.S. to propel Explorer I into orbit at the end of January as well.

Don’t forget as well the recession that hit the country in 1958. While today’s economy helps us to overlook earlier market contractions, business was taking a hit. Life magazine profiled a huge series on the topic, explaining in detail both the causes and some way forward for the country, while other media outlets profiled businesses that were hurting as well. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette profiled one railroad shop in Pennsylvania that was put on hold “indefinately” due to the recession.

In the civilian world, 1958 also saw the continuation of the new Ford brand known as the Edsel. While today we know it failed, Ford continued to advertise heavily for it during the year. Here’s a sample from Google Books on the car that you might find interesting:

Well, that’s all we have time for today. Plan on stopping back by very soon as we continue to profile this exciting year of 1958. Also, please don’t forget to check out the links below!

Have a great day!


NARA (Eisenhower-Sputnik Memo)

Sputnik I (Wikipedia)

NASA: (Sputnik details)

Time Photo Archive: (Recession, 1958!)

The Fifties: The Way We Really Were (Google Books)

NASA: Von Braun and Explorer I

Pittsburg Post Gazette: Railroad Shop Put on Hold

(1) Internet Archive

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