Jul 7, 2016

The 1950s in Hindsight and Being Honest With Ourselves


Life is a lot different when it is viewed from the rear view mirror. The fact that everything is backwards in real time reveals what we want to believe about the past.

In the review I wrote in my last post, the time frame for the setting was the early 1950s. I would have been 10 or 11 much like the boy that was the main character in Ivan Doig's The Last Bus to Wisdom. In the story Donal was put on a Greyhound bus to travel for several day alone. He was being sent to stay with his aunt while his grandma had surgery. When I think about that now I cannot believe that anyone would have actually done that even in that time. Not anyone that knew who traveled on the Greyhound bus!

Under the blanket that the post WWII generation covered itself with was hidden a much darker time. But putting on a happy face and pretending that nothing bad ever happened was more the norm than not.

Even the veterans that talked to reporters in documentaries hid the damage that was done to their hearts and souls. The face they revealed to the world was lived out in success stories. Looking back I see that all that was not good is hidden.

When a child of that era thinks about those times they know what was "really" going on and you can bet none of us were put on a Greyhound bus to travel for days.

The trains still had conductors and as an early teen I would travel for a few hours to visit my aunt and uncle. The warning to never talk to strangers and always sit alone still echo in my ears.

Hoboes hung around the railroad yard near us and I remember a friend and I ran into one on a hike one summer day. That hobo beared no resemblance to Doigs down and out nice hobos in the story. It was one of the scariest encounters I have ever had in my life. To this day I am not sure how we escaped that man alive. Our parents thought we were safe when we wandered around but the truth is we really weren't

The media was not allowed to reveal anything that was seedy or perverted. Movies were censored. McCarthyism was running rampant so anyone that had a different opinion from the Republican agenda was considered to be a communist. The truth was the country was even hiding from itself.

It needs saying over and over...THINGS WERE NOT BETTER BACK IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS! When we keep the real story in mind, we appreciate the world we live in today a lot more. At least we are more honest with ourselves about life.

It is just a thought!

b+

17 comments:

  1. Ah, you are so right. I took a college course with the textbook entitled "The Way We Never Were" and it was eye opening - all those points you mentioned. Of note, women could choose limited professions - nurse, teacher, stewardess ... and if you chose motherhood, better wear that apron and pearls while you were housekeeping. Ok, that not so much but depression in women very common - during that time period you were characterized as being "hysterical" and not in the funny way.

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    1. I remember an item in Good Housekeeping that told women how they needed to take care of the house. It was said that a woman should do her hair, clean the children and have a cold scotch and water ready when the husband came home from work. She was to keep the children quiet and not let them bother their father until he was rested (and a little drunk). Sigh!

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  2. I get your point. And don't forget the Cold War nuclear standoff. But there was one thing better about the 50s -- we were young and the world was before us.

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    1. There is always that...I loved being young. But I don't like it when people younger than myself think that what we Iived was so much better. It is not true.

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  3. How true and because of the lack of information I'm not even sure our parent's new how much danger was out there or at least mine wouldn't have allowed me to roam so freely far and wide. I do remember one specific warning when a man was driving around offering candy to children who would get in his car. There wasn't any explanation of why or what else he might have done but we sure got the message.

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    1. I hear you...my little town only had 800 people and everyone knew everyone. But it was the stranger that was riding the rails or hitchhiking that brought us grief.

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  4. We forget how different life is with 24hr. news and so many options to get it, even if it's faux news. That doesn't mean it's worse now just open to us. I'm not sure which is better, honestly.
    b

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    1. Because we are inundated with news, we really don't trust any of it do we. It is that distrust that is affecting more than anything today I think.

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  5. Your thoughts here ring true for me as well. I'm often left wondering after hearing the rallying cry of "make America great again" great for who and just when? 'Again' implies an earlier time. But just when! Seems we often remember what we want to remember and often romanticize history. So in the 50's who was it great for really? as you point out maybe things just weren't talked about back then. was born in 57 but my mom was an extremely intelligent woman who desperately wanted a career as a doctor that just wasn't open to her. She went back to school when my younger brother entered kindergarten and eventually earned an MBA and became a CPA. She fought for everything she got and even then was told by the positions accounting firm she worked for that women were never considered as partners in the firm. So not a great America for her back then. Then there was our close family friend who had been a pilot in Europe during WWII! WOw how exciting and what an honor. However he refused to talk about it and as children we were told not to ask him. Apparently war really was hell for him and all he would say is that dropping bombs on people is not something to be proud of. OK strike that era too. What about the 60's? Ah, yes. there was that little thing called the civil rights movement. The 70s except for that pesky Vietnam war and growing awareness of environmental issues. It goes on with every era and every group. I'm really not trying to be political but you hit a chord with me and you are so right! Every era has good and bad. We have an open communication network unprecedented in civilization and I. Some ways makes the world more scary as we see and learn about things across the globe we never knew were happening and maybe never wanted to know. But now we have to face it. We also have an unprecented opportunity to use these new tools to radically improve the world but we are still in our infancy in our sophistication of how to do that. As we watch the world unfold around us and citizens use mobile phone videos to record events that in the past would have never come to light we are learning step by step how to live in this brave new world!

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    1. Very well said. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

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  6. I am surprised no one mentioned the Klu Klux Klan. As we watch the murder of one black person after another, how can we not realize that this what whites have been doing to the black people since the civil war. We are all diminished by the fact that we are afraid of blacks and strike out when there is no reason.

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  7. With news 24/7, we now have access to all the stuff that had been happening all along. Barbara Torris is so right.

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    1. I cannot help but think that we are going to see things get better soon...the boil is about to burst and healing will begin. I can't explain why I feel that way but it is a pattern I have seen throughout my lifetime. Fingers crossed!

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  8. I just picked up that Doig book at the library. Thanks for the recommendation, and I agree it was and always has been scary out there.

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    1. Yes is has Jan...it is those younger than ourselves that need to be reminded that humans are not going to change. It will evolve but that takes a great deal of time. As we wait we remain hopeful.

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  9. Born in '57. Memories of fathers who were drunk more often then not ( now that I understand PTSD, it makes more sense). It was polite to be a "social drinker" and taking away keys was unheard of.
    Corporal punishments- both at school and home- were a norm. I remember a young boy getting his ears boxed and them both bleeding. His parents simply withdrew him from school. I also remember getting "the belt" for talking back to mom.
    "Those kids". Some were placed in homes. Runaways were placed in prison (for being incorrigible). Others still were forced to drop out of school as soon as they hit 14.
    No understanding of learning styles. I am dyslexic and did not read until the third grade. I was called stupid by parents and teachers
    alike.
    I went to several funerals of boys. Now that I look back- pretty sure they were all gay.
    It was not unusual to be molested by a drunk uncle or clergy. Bullying was accepted as a great way to get ahead.
    On the good side, I was allowed to ride where ever I wanted to go. The up side to that was, with such a large family, I was able to take lessons and swim when ever I could get myself there. Today kids are limited to their mini van. I was also allowed to be a really bad soft ball player and still be on a team :)

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    1. I loved this comment Jannette. We survived and actually were not damaged as much as we could have been. My home was perfect in so many ways but I saw it all.

      Thank you for stopping by.

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