[I'm not sure that much of this is comprehensible to younger generations, but many of us older people do hearken back to some grand years in the good old US of A. Granted, time has worn off some of the rough edges. Nevertheless, here're some ramblings to mark another milestone that we pass in an age that is so different from the America of days gone by.]
For those of us born in the 1940s, it’s already in the bank, and no one can take it away. We have been blessed to live in the iconic America that reached its apex during the 1945 – 1965 period. It was an age when America was the world’s white knight, having emerged victorious from vanquishing two global foes, then pouring its enormous wealth and productive capability into rebuilding a shattered world, and setting itself to stand guard against the surviving evil of communism. We had a common public culture, boundless energy, and a pragmatic vision of how we would continue to make ours a more perfect Union.
But best of all, most of us were free and working to bring such freedoms to all. The beguiling bamboozle of 1930s socialism cum communism, that so enthralled America’s leftwing elite during the Depression, finally showed its true face as the Iron Curtain divided Europe into the history’s largest prison camp on one side, and thriving nations reaching new levels of prosperity and quality of life on the other side. In schools we learned about American exceptionalism and then lived it as we hit the streets when school let out.
We were also free to work our butts off. As kids we could get about any job we could talk ourselves into. We flipped burgers, carried papers, mowed lawns, or even worked as field hands doing stoop labor on farms. As we got older we could get jobs using the skills we learned in high school shop classes. My own jobs path was going from a farm laborer into aerospace light manufacturing as a sixteen year old cutting and brazing jet engine electrical conduits. My next stop was an aerospace draftsman drawing awesomely complex functional diagrams of submarine combat systems as a teenager in college.
There was no government to tell employers that they could not hire me, and no government telling me I could not work here or there, or taking my parents to task for ‘abusing’ me if I decided to work long hours months at a time. In fact, I bought my first car, a used 1957 VW bug. After arriving in Los Angeles, I registered with the California Youth Employment Agency in Hollywood. They sent me on called-in daily jobs located from Orange County to the canyon country north of Los Angeles. I did whatever my boss for a day (or more) would tell me to do, whether it would be to wash windows, clean out the garage, rake leaves, polish floors, or paint a porch. America’s youth was then enabled by the state, not inhibited.
And fearing government was something we learned about in school and saw in other countries, but none of us experienced government overreach in our own or our parents’ lives. We could go where we wanted and do what we wanted (within reason of course). Public lands were then truly public lands. We could throw a backpack and gun (it had to be visible) into the back seat, and before the sun set we’d be in a very remote spot sitting around a campfire with a dubiously cooked meal warming our bellies.
Our entertainments were salutary to God and country. Coming out of a movie – whether a grand western, a biblical epic, filmed version of a Broadway musical, war story, or comedy – you invariably felt uplifted. Hollywood was on the case, giving us a gratifying respite from our daily labors which were many. And television echoed all that during its ‘golden age’, those shows whose recorded kinescopes are still entertaining and somewhat unbelievable to the current generations.