Talkin’ Bout This G-G-Generation
Prohibition. The dustbowl. The stock market crash. Hoovervilles. Soup kitchens. Welcome to the world, post WWI. Watch as, by the 30’s, we see the world as we know it end. The crops will fail. The livestock will die. The economy will collapse. Entire families whose backgrounds have only ever existed on farms will migrate into cities, illprepared for jobs in that realm. That’s fine. City jobs won’t exist either. Experts have many answers to reasons The Great Depression ended. They all agree that one event probably played an accidental role in the recovery. Twelve million unemployed men and women were given rather sudden employment. We called it WWII. There would be many more bumps in this road. Over 400,000 people would lose their lives. Those who returned would soon face the Korean War, the violence of the very necessary Civil Rights Movement, The Cold War, and the Vietnam War, to highlight a few epic markers. Yet, with all these good parts, bad parts, and everything in between, we would flourish. We were made of men and women who never gave up. We had gumption. We could fail, over and over again, always hopeful that the next time would do the trick. We were faithful to our causes, with our impenetrable internal constitutions and our fingers-to-the-bone work ethic. I know these things because these were the traits I witnessed in my father and his siblings. Born in the 20’s, raised in the 30’s, reared without wealth, they were, truly, the greatest generation. They are all but gone. What’s going to save us in this new, digital world? Who’s going to step up this time? I shudder to think. Don’t you?
In my father’s generation, one thing was guaranteed. Life would be difficult. There would be lots of walking. I’m including a picture of my grandparents, James Benard & Annie Mae Stilwell, next to a car they presumably owned around 1925, before my father came along. It’s a Model something or other (insert alphabet letter of choice). Daddy didn’t remember the car in the picture, saying it was probably sold or traded for something they needed worse. He remembered other cars in other moments, here and there. He says at least one of those automobiles was a Model T with a hand crank starter. Nevertheless, car reliability was questionable in the 20’s. Kids did walk to school barefooted in the snow, when they went. Kids didn’t always have enough to eat, many or any toys, shoes, et al. So, what do you do when you’re a kid and you have a spare minute where you’re not picking crops or pecans or eggs from the henhouse? What tomfoolery do you gravitate toward when there’s no internet or no electricity? You go fishing. You visit your grandfather’s cabin on the banks of the Trinity River. You play cops & robbers in the loft of a barn. You stage epic egg fights that get you a good switch to the backside. It’s not that you intended to have an amazing imagination & perpetually filthy feet. You just had no other options.
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