Tag Archive | "Great Depression"

Whatever Happened to America?

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Growing up during the Great Depression, life seemed to be simpler.  There were no televisions, telephones, or credit cards, and there were surely less automobiles on the road.  Those who would come to invent the Internet were not even born!   During those times, the average family had but a sole provider to make ends meet.  With the nation plunged into a Depression, my own father had a tough time keeping us housed, clothed, and fed.  But despite the low rate of employment, he managed to pull us all through some very tough times.

 

As Dad worked long hours to earn a living, Mom remained at home, the nurturing figure central to our lives.  Upon her shoulders rested everything not linked to the production of a steady paycheck: the care of the children, maintenance of the house, the laundry and mending of clothing (we recycled four decades before it became the norm), the preparation of three meals a day, and everything that went along with those responsibilities.  Her work was never done.

 

Those times were hard on everyone and it took teamwork to survive those ordeals.  Even we children had our roles and tasks to make life a little easier on Mom.  As soon as we were old enough, we would wash and dry the dishes after supper, run errands, and take care of our daily needs as best we were able.

 

However, life did not center completely upon work.  In retrospect, our “downtime” was exceptionally sweet, as it could only be enjoyed as the result of hard work and focus.  Today’s standards of recreation, with their emphasis upon computers and other electronic gadgets, probably make our earlier forms of pleasure seem medieval by comparison.   The sources of entertainment in those days consisted of playing stickball and other games with friends, reading books, gathering around the radio in delicious anticipation of a mystery-serial such as “The Shadow Knows,” and if you were lucky enough to own a Victrola, as my family was, we also played the music of that era.  (A Victrola was a machine that played large, flat, round disks; that’s how recorded music was pressed and heard in those days.  No ITunes and no IPods!)  As a family, we would also go hiking in the Wissahickon Park, sail down the Delaware River on the Wilson Line, or visit our relatives. All of life’s problems seemed to vanish when we were enjoying ourselves.

 

After surviving the Great Depression, our next challenge was that of World War II, a global conflict that changed not only our nation’s economy but also set the stage for the huge social transformations that would ultimately follow.   As men were drafted into the war, leaving gaping holes in the employment arena, the role of women changed.  Entering the factories, they made airplanes, parachutes, and other items critical to the war effort.   Those employed in other types of manufacturing facilities produced the things needed and used by those still on American soil.  Even children got involved in supporting our troops overseas.  It was a time for everyone to rally around the Flag and put their shoulders to the wheel.

 

World War II ended victoriously for America as we entered the Atomic Age.  Men fortunate enough to return home from the conflict married and raised families whose children later bore the moniker “Baby Boomers.”  The housing industry exploded, as homes were needed to meet the demands of these families.  Household equipment, whose manufacture had slowed considerably in order to produce the items needed for the war, once again enjoyed a surge in production and sales.  These included automobiles and washing machines.  The emergence of television ushered in an entire new galaxy of employment opportunities as well as a new form of entertainment.  With the Depression over and the war won, “Happy days were here again.”

 

As we entered the Space Age, America enjoyed great economic growth.  Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who took the famous “one great step for mankind” on the moon was an American.  The stock market soared to over 1,000 and we became the Great Society.  During this time of prosperity, we forgot the lessons learned in surviving the Great Depression.  As more than one historian has observed, “History teaches us nothing;” it was just a matter of time until the economic bubble broke once more.  The course our nation had set itself upon was akin to that of the Roman Empire.

 

Although we are today experiencing another economic Depression, all is not lost. America’s greatness did not and does not stem from its government; from its inception, our nation’s accomplishments are direct results of the resourcefulness and resilience of its people.  Our elected leaders have grown rich and lazy, more interested in self worth than fulfilling the will of the people who elected them. When he left his second term in office, George Washington, our first President, was deeply concerned about the direction in which the country was heading.  He felt that the two-party system would fail to enact the principles upon which this country had been founded.  If President Washington were here today to witness the state of our economy and what has happened in government, I think even he would be shocked!

 

Along with our elected leaders, our own citizenry has grown fat and lazy, willing to accept whatever government dictates.  More public interest is shown for sports events than to the task of upholding the tenets established in our Founding Fathers’ Constitution.

 

Once again, it is time to rally around the Flag and demonstrate the will of the people.  If you wish to initiate positive change, exercise the First Amendment.  Write to your elected officials and tell them how you want to see our beloved Country run.

 

“Remember the Roman Empire!”  And also remember:  “The pen is mightier than the sword!”

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