Wednesday, October 26, 2016

That Was The World That Was

The original post: Half of Americans want to take the US back to the 1950s.

Me: The only good thing about the 50s is that I was young then. Other than that they were really rocky times.

Susan: Personally, they were the best of times, growing up in the Berkshire Hills. We were encouraged to be all we could be, and protected from evil so we could succeed.
You grew up in Victorville, didn't you?

Me: Various air bases. I loved living with my grandparents in Connecticut while Dad that was on remote duty (occupation duty in Germany?) I have a few vivid memories but in general I don't remember it very well but I loved it.

I don't remember the time before that in Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Although maybe I do, I certainly have some memories that are floating around that I can't quite place.

Two years in Oklahoma was a wonderful time. Right behind our house was the railway track and behind that empty space. The stream ran down a sandstone bed to the wetlands with willow islands and the railway tressle.

Then Biloxi Mississippi, "the capital of segregation". We lived on base there. But trips outside were like taking a journey into a hostile land. They're all sorts of rules that everyone had to obey, White and Black. Good memories, but also not so good.

Then Germany, then here.

My point is though that of course all these times were wonderful. I was a kid. But the 1950s was the time when it was still perfectly acceptable to south to murder Black people. Homosexuality was illegal. So was most consensual sex between married couples! You conformed or you were thrown out. Girls were sent home if they dared wear pants to school. The rat race was on. The government was ready to attempt to survive a nuclear war. The polio epidemic. And so on.

That was a lot of hope, but it was balanced by a very real fear.

Things are much better now. I miss some things, like letting us kids loose and not seeing us until sundown. Still, historically it was a very bad century and the 1950s largely seem so wonderful only by comparison to the horrors that had come before.

I remember reading stories nostalgically remembering the whirr of a hand pushed lawn mower making the smell of fresh cut grass as opposed to the smell of burning gasoline and fresh cut grass. Then I read a Ray Bradberry story in which he nostalgically remembered the swish of the scythe to cut the grass. All of us remember our childhoods as such a wonderful time. And so they were. For us as individuals.

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