The average family income in 1957 was $5,000. Many got by on $50 a week-- $2600/year.
Touch the side of that coated cotton and it would leak on you and of course you touch it right over your head while moving around inside. We had treated cotton pyramids in Scouts in the mid-1960's. They were tough and weatherly (and heavy) and the first thing you were told was "DON'T TOUCH THE INSIDE."
And you don't need a $300 tent either ;)