When “Happy Days” aired in 1974, the popular TV series portrayed the 1950s as a carefree time when teens hung out at soda shops and if they wanted to get romantic, like The Fonz, they took a drive to “watch the submarine races.”

Danbury resident Jo Esposito, who graduated from Danbury High in 1954, has fond memories of that time. She remembers how she and her classmates would stop at each other’s homes to pick everyone up for football games. Her favorite group was the Four Aces and one of its hits was “Tell Me Why,” she said, breaking into song.

Poodle skirts were all the rage and, of course, Esposito had one, but she doesn’t recall where she bought it. However, one of her favorite coats, a bright orange one, came from a Danbury store called Jeanne’s Dress Shop.

Brigid Guertin, executive director of the Danbury Museum and Historical Society, holds a poodle skirt and coat made in the 1950s. The clothing is part of a new exhibit at the museum called,

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“It was in a rickety loft on Main Street,” Esposito said. Owner Sam Eckert used to go to New York frequently to buy fashionable dresses and other items. His clothes were unique and often fit her tiny frame, she said.

“He let us put $5 down and pay $5 a week; that’s how we purchased our clothes,” Esposito said. “We didn’t make a lot of money in those days.”

The Danbury Museum and Historical Society is also waxing nostalgic with its new exhibit, “Focus on the Fifties,” that explores the decade through a local lens. The museum asked its members for items to display and Esposito answered the call by loaning her vintage poodle skirt and coat for the exhibit. Several other members got into the spirit too, said Executive Director Brigid Guertin.

“The (18) cases are all full and we have a lot of great pieces that will remind people of what Danbury was like in the ’50s,” she said. “When we had wedding dresses on exhibit, people gifted the museum many wedding dresses. We’re hoping we can bulk up the (1950s) archive; we’re looking for more blouses and shoes, men’s suits and children’s clothing, family photos and street scenes — anything that documents this wonderful city that we all call home.”

The show features everything from baseball cards to Mickey Mouse and Davy Crockettmementos and a 1950 copy of Candlewood Panorama magazine that celebrated life on Candlewood Lake when it was more of a vacation destination than it is today, Guertin said.

“What was fun for me, because I have young children, was learning more about the 1950s toys,” Guertin said. “We had discussions on the games people played, and we’re doing three Wednesdays when we’re going to be playing with toys like Hula-Hoops and dominoes.”

The ’50s, like every other decade, had its happy times, as well as challenges. While the exhibit’s focus is mostly on upbeat aspects, it has a bit of everything, she said.

“For us, the two floods of ’55 made major changes in how we looked at ourselves and the downtown,” Guertin said. “There were millions of dollars in damages; three cases in the exhibit are dedicated to this. A police officer lost his life rescuing people off the Thorpe Street bridge.

“Diane Hassan and Michele Lee Amundsen worked extremely hard to research and develop this wonderful exhibit,” Guertin said. “We hope people will visit to remember Danbury’s past in a way that’s fun. We hope it will encourage them to take part in more museum activities. We honor the past, think of the present and plan for a better future for Danbury.”

Danbury Museum and Historical Society, 43 Main St. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, free. Tours Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., $6. 203-743-5200,

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