Were the 1950s the greatest decade in American history?

cleaversAugust 18, 2011 — My father always says the 1950s were the best time in our country’s history. He’s not alone since it is a sentiment shared by many people of his generation, who also believe that life in the 1950s was simpler and more enjoyable.

I was born in December 1959, so I can’t say I remember life in the 50s, but I do remember the early 60s, which weren’t that different. Traditional roles were the norm, men were the breadwinners of the family and few women worked outside of the home after they married.

Back then we believed our politicians, didn’t question our doctors and enjoyed a booming economy. There was a sense of confidence within the business community that almost any problem could be solved quickly. The government helped boost this confidence by imposing price controls on commonly used goods to slow quickly rising costs. They also passed antitrust regulations to prevent corporate takeovers from strangling competition in the market place. Small businesses were also abundant, including mom and pop stores such as newsstands, candy stores, shoe repair shops, drug stores, and food markets. People shopped locally back then, and the small stores thrived.

So, it was a good time for many in this country, but certainly not for everyone, especially those who were discriminated against since the 50s predate the civil rights movement and women’s liberation. Still, my father is correct with his statement, but so am I when I tell my son that nothing compares to the 1970s or 80s.

It’s every parent’s prerogative to tell their children that the world is worse off today than it was yesterday. But I try to remember that even now, at a time when it seems like it couldn’t get any worse, we’re still living in someone’s best time. And in 20 or 30 years from now, someone will be telling their son or daughter that very thing.

On a side note, if you ask Google which decade was the best, there are a few interesting responses. While many noted that the 1950s were best because it was right after the war, the 1980s had a fair share of responses. Some even say that it was 1770, explaining that if that decade didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be an American history at all. 

Over the rainbow and then some

wizardAugust 11, 2019 — In two weeks, the world will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the release date (August 25, 1939) of the “The Wizard of Oz.”

I’m an old movie fan, so it’s easy for me to say that it’s one of my all-time favorites. But even those who don’t care for the old black and whites love “The Wizard of Oz”. After 80 years, families still gather to watch the story of Dorothy and her three friends look for their hearts’ desire.

It made me wonder what other entertainment icons stand the test of time. Here are a few I came up with; feel free to add your own.

Movies:
“Casablanca” springs to mind immediately, which is the greatest in my opinion, along with “Citizen Kane”, although I don’t see what the fuss is all about there. Many movie aficionados obviously disagree. In addition, I have to give honorable mention to anything from Alfred Hitchcock, especially his earlier films of the 40s and 50s, and to the wonderful family movies made in the 60s such “The Sound of Music”, “Mary Poppins”, and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, to name a few. I know I try to catch them whenever they are on.

Singers/Bands:
How about Frank Sinatra, or anyone in the Rat Pack to start? They are still wildly popular today. You could also include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan in the mix because all of their music still has a strong audience, even though many of the songs were recorded 50 plus years ago. I wonder how many people will listen to Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber 50 years from now?

Books:
This is probably the easiest category because schools will always push the classics on students, although many (like me) won’t appreciate them until they are adults. So, what books stand out? How about “The Catcher in the Rye”, “Jane Eyre”, “Pride and Prejudice”, “Anna Karenina”, and “The Bell Jar”, to name a few? I would be remiss not to mention Judy Blume because I know that young girls in the future will still be captivated with “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?” It’s also quite possible that the Harry Potter stories will have staying power.