Sunday, January 04, 2009


<----- Main Thoroughfare in the Town Where I Grew up (1930s)

My mom was born in 1930, and grew up during the Depression and WWII. The other day we were sitting in the living room and she said, "You know, even with all of the bad stuff, my friends and I really think that we grew up during the best time period ever."

I said, "Yeah, if you were white."

She thought for a moment and then said, "I guess you're right in a way, but we were up north, and it wasn't as bad up there."

I agreed that in the 30s and 40s our little pocket of the Northeast was a great deal better than say, Birmingham, but told her that it was still pretty bad. 

When I was a kid the heyday of the Civil Rights Movement was over. Women's Rights was the new cause, and I have memories of Alan Alda marching on my TV screen for the ERA. Which failed. But hey, he tried. THEY tried.

Women still make 80 cents to a man's dollar for the same job. Unpardonable.

I remember my mother basically insinuating that "women's libbers" were all ugly, leg hair sporting women who refused to wear bras and couldn't get a man. And my mother was a Democrat. The irony is that my mom is one of the most liberated women I know. She has held a professional career for 55 years. The house was in her name, because she made more than my father did. Due to separation and then my father's death she was a single mom. She has never been without her own car since she first received her driver's license. She almost never lets the man drive. And although she's an extremely devout Catholic who has blazingly different views than my own, she raised a Pro-Choice, homosexual loving, free thinking woman who tries very hard not to judge others. Tries being the operative word.

So I was thinking back to when I grew up. I would have to say that I did not grow up in a fantastic era. When I was born, Vietnam was raging and shortly after Nixon was resigning. We were in the middle of the Cold War, and they still held occasional "nuclear drills" where we all had to get under our desks. The TV movie "The Day After" aired, and scared me and everyone else to death. Everyone hated America, and people were super selfish. The AIDS epidemic was born. Ireland was at war with itself. Inflation went nutty. 

But you know what? I could still ride my bike all over town BY MYSELF and not have to worry. 

So my kids will be growing up basically in the 2010s. There is a LOT of bad shit going down right now, but there's also so much good. I wonder if there really is such a thing as a "best of times," and if there is, what's the criteria? I'm guessing it's totally subjective. And I guess that's ok.

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