"I returned home to the United States after living abroad for sixteen years. I walked the streets of New York completely beguiled by the changes time had brought. Social attitudes were greatly altered. It would have been unthinkable in the 1950's to see blacks and whites walking hand in hand, homosexuals together openly, men with shoulder-length hair, or women with breasts swinging free, unconfined by brassieres or not exaggerated by "falsies".
"Falsies," I thought. "A 50's word." As I conjured up that decade when I had worked as a photographer in America, other catchwords came. I played a stream-of-consciousness game with contemporaries. "What," I asked, "comes to mind if I say 1950's?" Some thought the questions too broad, but most came up with single words or phrases that matched the ones that I dredged from my own interior landscape.
Ike, bobby-sox, blacklist, McCarthy, cold war, iron curtain, Marilyn, Korea, togetherness, loyalty oath (a phrase from Harry Truman's 40's but identified more closely with the 50's), Rock 'n' Roll, Malcolm X, civil rights, Little Rock, short back and sides, duck's ass.
The words brought back sounds, and the sounds brought back smells, and the smells brought back images, and the images reminded me that perhaps I should look at my photographs of that time. I had been witness to that decade of disillusionment; perhaps I ought to go back and see my own pictures, read my own observations of that time written to go with the pictures, in order to see if I could examine now in terms of then." (Eve Arnold)
Size: 11.1 x 9.3"
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (New York, 1978)