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Pool Parity: 1954

Pool Parity: 1954

From 1954, and a world away from Lana lounging: "Woman relaxing in an inflatable swimming pool while her children play nearby in Park Forest, Illinois." Photos for a Look magazine assignment on life in suburbia. View full size.

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Wonderful photo

This photo was taken in 1954, when a LOOK photographer spent a week with my husband's family in Park Forest. The woman in the pool is my mother-in-law, Naomi Patterson, who died several years ago from complications of Alzheimer's disease. The little boy on the left is my husband, Bill. I have seen the rest of the photographs, which are a wonderful glimpse into life in the 50s. They were taken to illustrate the WWII vets and their lives in suburban areas of the US.

No helicopter parents here

Mom is happy to let the kids sort it out, as long as they don't kill each other.

Forget the suntan lotion

It would have gotten smeared on the cool eyewear sported by the little dude in the middle.

My pool, your pool!

"Because I'm the Mom, that's why! Now stay in the kids' pool, and don't splash me any more, can't you see I'm reading?" Go ride your Polo Pony.

Those kids look exactly my age, only I was living on Army bases which looked a lot like that!

1954 Fort Ord, 1955 Camp Zama Japan, 1956 suburban Baltimore, 1957 settling in SF bay Area. When people ask where I'm from I say, "Born in the Army, raised in Mill Valley!"

So glad it wasn't St Louis where my dad came from.

This Lady

Reminds me a lot of my own mother in this time period.


Indeed, I can remember suntan OIL, which, while moisturizing your skin, would actually intensify the sun's damage instead of shielding it.

Museum piece

Many of the Park Forest photographs that appeared in Look in 1954 are now part of a special exhibit at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History, which uses the community as a clear example of master planned communities of the baby-boom era. It must have been a wonderful moment in time for the veterans' families that made up most of Park Forest's first wave of residents; college tuition, housing, and gas were cheap, and the local economy was exploding. No doubt the ads for sales clerks were plentiful, as Goldblatt's had just opened its anchor store at Park Forest Plaza mall, and Marshall Fields would open in '55. It would be two decades before inflation, competition, and obsolescence would doom the Plaza (and much of Park Forest) to the ranks of the uncool, a stigma from which it has yet to recover.

Pretty in plaid

As a vigorous supporter and advocate of the Pretty Girls tag, I do hope that being a mom does not exclude the lady in the plaid bathing suit from the category.


No such thing as sunscreen back then.

That had better not be Collier's

The lady is looking at Look, we trust.

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