Nifty ’50s: Mullica Hill exhibit celebrates the decade

Artifacts from the era highlight changes in the community and in American society

Courtesy of Jim Turk
Visitors go back to the 1950s at the Old Town Hall Museum in Mullica Hil. The exhibit on the era continues through Dec. 10.

The Harrison Township Historical Society is featuring a Back to the Fifties exhibit at Old Town Hall Museum through Sunday, Dec 10, to explore Mullica Hill’s past during that decade.

The free exhibit – open every Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. – began on Oct. 14 and highlights the cultural changes locally and in American society at the halfway point of the 20th century.

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“The mid-20th century was a time of change for our community,” said the society’s Jim Turk. “New residents were moving here, recruited by nearby industries like DuPont and Socony Mobil. With them came new schools, new housing and new organizations. Agriculture and related businesses still dominated the local economy, but new homes were appearing in the open fields and woodlands, a trend that would accelerate in the future.

“Farm-related businesses would be replaced by new commercial endeavors,” he added. “This exhibition provides a glimpse into Old Harrison Township at mid-century and some of the factors that signaled the changes to come.”

Exhibit artifacts from the era include a 1949 television, photos that illustrate the beginning of the Clearview Regional and Harrison Township school districts and objects from the past of local youth organizations like the Boy Scouts.

“Last year, the society was given a 1949 RCA Victor television set, the first in Mullica Hill, which inspired us to think about how many significant changes took place during the mid-20th century,” Turk explained of the exhibit.

“We also knew that the society’s collections were rich in material from that era and had not been exhibited before,” he added. “Finally, interest in mid-century modern design in recent years suggested that this period would be of interest to our community and beyond.”

Also featured are military uniforms from the Korean War and the Cold War that were donated by local veterans and a telescope from the Mullica Hill Observatory. To enhance the exhibit theme, “sounds of the era” – as Turk describes them – are heard in the background and there is film of a 1957 episode of the famous Philadelphia teen dance show, American Bandstand.

Feedback so far, according to Turk, has been positive.

“For some of our guests, visiting the gallery is very nostalgic and evokes memories of that time,” he noted. “In many ways, our story is a microcosm of what was happening nationally, and so the exhibition is very relatable, whether or not one grew up here.

“As noted earlier, there has been a recent resurgence of interest in the 1950s, so for others, this is a chance to experience what the era was like.”

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