I’ve wondered at times what it was about the 1950s and 1960s that allowed those two decades to dominate the nostalgia market during almost all the late 20th Century. In a lot of ways it just doesn’t make sense.
Sure, we had a better music, rhythm and blues, wailing ballads of quality country ad western, and all that new frontier of rock and roll at its birth. Songs we knew well enough to sing along, or alone as we rode down those roads before super-highways on used tires.
Old cars with personality, greasy hair, dandruff, acne and bad teeth. Parents and grandparents who went through the Great Depression and worked hard to assure we wouldn’t experience those kinds of difficult times.
Mostly at the time it was in the world around us and I don’t recall being all that happy about all the other crap that came with it. Constant brink of war sf a sort that it’s better not to remember. Knowing when you turned 18 you’d have the draft hanging over your head. And a lot of bullying everywhere you turned.
If you worked doing farm work the farmers and ranchers who hired you felt a moral obligation to shout and verbally abuse the workers anytime they got within earshot. Construction jobs? You’ve never seen bullying and abuse that could compete with a construction foreman. It was there on the school playgrounds, on the streets, anywhere people happened to be.
And mostly nobody much said a word. It just went with being alive.
Our little farm was just across the railroad tracks on the ‘Mexican’ side of town. When I was in the first and second grade I walked home from school the same way several ‘Mexican’ kids walked. I was smaller than them, anglo, and outnumbered. They started just by yelling insults, but gradually it worked up they’d chase me with sticks or throwing rocks at me.
There came a day I was running home just in front of them, arrived with my mother on the front porch. They gathered on the dirt road in front of the house, still shouting and throwing rocks.
“Get out of here you little Mescin bastards!” She ran down off the porch waving the broom. “I’ll twist your heads off and shove them up your butts!” She never got close to catching them, but they were off.
Then she came back where I was waiting on the porch and smacked me upside the head with the broom so hard it broke the handle. Grabbed me by the collar and proceeded to beat my backside with the handle fragment. “If I ever see you running away from a fight again you’d better not set foot in this house!”
When my step-dad got home she told him, and it was off to the back porch with his belt. But at least he followed that up a bit later by teaching me to fight.
I don’t know what these kids today are going to have to feel nostalgia about. Maybe some of them will have similar memories or they’ll just remember all the computer games and hum rap music to themselves and smile.
But you can almost bet when they reach 50 or so they’ll be rallying around the flag and trying to elect candidates who promise to make America great again. The way it is today.