Sunday, April 19, 2009

and so it began

So many stories! World War II - battles, bravery and courage, prisoners of war, horrors and torture, touching love stories - The stories in my memory bank are the ones I heard later as those around me, reminisced because I was one of millions of babies born during the years of that global war. For many reasons, that period of history intrigues me in a personal way. It was a time of enormous changes. The world would never be the same as ordinary people experienced extraordinary changes.

To set the stage, it is necessary to put the movies of our mind in that time. That is, what the mind-set was, then, remembering that the sixty plus years after WWII had not yet happened! America's giant middle class was still was "middle class," or what in today's terms, might be viewed as, "under-privileged."

So ---- close our eyes ----- A telephone in every house (cell phones, household computers, email, and the internet were figments of the imaginations of science fiction writers), indoor plumbing, stoves fired by electricity or gas, refrigerators not to mention self-defrosting refrigerators, automatic washers and dryers, television!, super markets, medical and dental insurance, innoculation against measles, mumps, smallpox, and polio - oh - and polio had not yet been recognized as a disease! - movies in color, were future things or not imaginable for the vast majority of Americans - Hell - in rural America, lots of people still got around by horse and buggy and pooped in outhouses! All of this and so much more. Ready-to-wear clothing and teenager were not everyday words. Hard to imagine, huh!? College? - only for the rich and the few. Who wants to go back? - I certainly do not but to understand the world then, it is essential to understand how much our everyday lives have changed.

The "Great American Dream" was a slogan not an expectation. The GI bill was years away and the veterans of World War I had had to march on Washington to force payment of their Congress-approved "bonus" (read "pittance"). "Hobos" still meant men who were "down on their luck" and knocked at the back door offering to do odd jobs for something to eat and not "Homeless" as if they were a separate race to be feared and derided at the same time, supported by you and me - taxpayers.

I leave you this time with these thoughts and the next time we meet, we will step into the volatile, horrific, and exciting time of World War II.

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