If I remember correctly, in 1950, Verichrome Pan, which was the popular B&W film, was ASA 32. I think it changed to ASA 64 in 1956. Kodacolor was also ASA 32 daylight and ASA 10 with a filter for tungsten. The original Verichrome was an orthochromatic film, and later became panchromatic. I always thought Verichrome Pan was a fine film, although it was considered 'box camera' film by many. Yes, they were of higher contrast, but I don't think that much.
My experience with HP5 is that it is low contrast, especially if over exposed.
I would try some Pan F, which is more like the 1950 films.
Somehow we all took photos with slow lenses and slow films - maybe because we didn't know any better. My Dad took lots of Kodachrome slides with cameras with f4.5 and f3.5 lenses. Kodachrome then was ASA 10. Those slides still look great today.