August 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.