Archive for the ‘Kyvig’s “Daily Life in the United States: 1920-1940”’ Tag

HOPE   10 comments

It’s ironic I know, but I am finding hope in the fact that we’ve been here before as a nation. The same problems bug us – different faces – same issues, having led us not to resolutions, but rather to more of the same. Why hopeful? I’ll be darned if I know. It should leave me feeling even more distressed, verging on despair. I guess it’s the fact that the things we live through have meaning only with the perspective of time, so I perceive myself (and you) living in the maelstrom, out of which will come who knows what. And the fact that my father died in bed at age 86. The world had not collapsed entirely during his journey.

OK, let me give that first paragraph some perspective. As I think I have mentioned, I am working on the fictionalized biography of my father, born in 1890, emigrated from Sweden to the United States in 1909. I have several sources to draw on for specific information about him, but I’m also searching sites to give me background on the times in which he lived.

One book that has delighted me with useful, and, in some cases nostalgic, information, is David E. Kyvig’s “Daily Life in the United States: 1920 – 1940.” There’s lots to comment on, but my focus here is the recognition that “Oh my goodness. We’ve been here before.” Weather changes creating financial havoc (the dust bowl). The great depression; the poorest suffering most, long before the fall of the stock market hit the upper percent. Government intrusion into personal life with the Volstead Act, created by the very people who argued against government intrusion.  (In my mind equivalent to the current incursion into people’s reproductive rights by those who argue against government control). The unanticipated negative results of banning alcohol – ie. Rampant law-breaking and mob violence. How interesting to see that which was once part of the culture becoming “illegal.” Was there an element of anti-immigrant sentiment? It apparently did destroy the French restaurant business, for example. Technological advances leading to job loss and ultimate creation of new jobs.

Questions whether this time the period of creating replacement jobs will happen quickly enough to save the middle class.

So, why be hopeful? It’s some crazy twist of my own psychology, I guess. Sometimes I advise folks that it’s better to give up hope than to keep on wishing for that which cannot happen. Maybe that’s it. I’m not ready to give up wishing that things will get better if we keep on trying.

 

 

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