Sunday, February 24, 2013


 The term "greaser" has become apart of America's pop-culture lure. Greasers have been romanticized in Hollywood, TV and even the stage; however, in the 1950s people were truly concerned with this new subculture. The teenage demographic came about in the 1950s as a new marketing group, prior to the Second World War kids were forced to grow up after adolescence earning a wage to help the family out. 
            The 1950s saw the average income for families’ increase, as well as a new on emphasis education. Teenager now with more time on their hands were free to socialize like never before. Social groups as well as gangs were a natural result of this newfound idleness, by providing "an escape from the boredom and distasteful conditions that parents and school impose"[1]. These new street gangs and the delinquency they caused concerned adults and even children in the 1950s. When asked their thoughts on this new trend of crime being perpetrated by their peers many teenagers would answer, “crack down on them! Hard!” a 16-year-old boy from Birmingham Al went so far to say “ You’d think twice about doing something if you knew you were going to spend 10-years in the pen”.[2] With such a substantial public outcry against greasers and their gang why today do we think back on these juveniles as anything but dangerous or deliquesce?

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            The Greasers that come to mind today are mainly the singing and dancing youths of such films as Greece, Cry Baby, and West Side Story and the lovable characters these films gave us. What we do not remember however is these characters and films were influenced by real life teen gang members like “Tarzan”, real name Frank Sanata, who with his gang of greasers, the Navajo’s brutally shoot a teen they mistook or a member of a rival gang.[3] 

[1] Robert Griffith, and Paula Baker, eds. Major Problems in American History Since 1945. 86

[2] “Teen-agers: The Sun (1837-1987). November 27, 1955.

[3] Robert Griffith, and Paula Baker, eds. Major Problems in American History Since 1945. 85

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