The American people; The good old days: A study in nostalgia, part two
Now talk to the good old days. A study in the style Geo. I hear people all the time say gee I wish I was young again and knew what I know now. I don't want to if I hadn't if I had to return to childhood again I wouldn't want to know any more than I knew then because I had too much fun learning. We had experiences with the young people today can't have simply because of progress and I think this carries through even though the scout camps and the summer camps in the first place parents have discovered how dangerous it is to wield an axe. Well whenever our parents taught us how to use them they were considered too dangerous a
weapon and we used to go on in the woods. And build our own shelters and so forth when the kids aren't there and they're not only not encouraged to do this today they're not allowed to do it today. First place you dare scratch a tree in an on public land or private land then you're liable to be hauled into court as a juvenile delinquent. And this wasn't the case. I remember we used to steal steal. I used the word advisedly corn and potatoes from farm and cook them over a fire and the gentleman used to chase us once in a while and some 15 years after I left Indianapolis I returned and was attending a sort of a get together down there. One of my buddies came up nice and Davis and Mr. Johnson and this didn't ring a bell with me and he said Don't you remember he said we used to swipe corn off of Mr. Johnson's farm and I said I sort of English can recall the instance and a great
kindly old gentleman he said. And now to think about I can remember you chasing us across the field. He says yeah but he said I never caught any of you did it. And I said no you didn't. He said if I had of he said one of the nearly as much fun with it and I had to agree with him and I don't think this kind of philosophy exists today we were very careful not to disturb his fences or to tear down anything or maliciously destroy anything and I suppose he didn't miss a half a dozen years of core now and then but I sort of I sort of thought about his philosophy there. It would have been nearly as much fun if I hadn't chased you in that one of the nearly as much fun if I caught you. And I don't think there's much of this type Polaski around anymore or primarily because of the increased pace a living the farmer today is farming a thousand acres where he used to have a little field and he doesn't really have time and what time he has he's whining about taxes and whether he should plow it under next
year and I don't think I don't know I don't think were quite as human as we once were. You're right. Some people in those days called us broods. If we were really famous if we were morrow and had believed that what a young woman should write her rules should be guarded to herself and her making with the opposite sex. I think that this this has gone too far. Women are not as distinctly feminine as they were in those days. They don't have the same value as I don't feel
that there's that they should hair. Of course bike back in the early 20s or after 1918 join the prohibition days. This was really a wow time particularly in New York City. We had day. Jobs and was one of the famous dancers we had the speakeasies and. Of course he talked about drinking. Never thought of drinking. I thought it was smarter great you go to a sorority affair and you can of course be carry any. Flask around you like a Renault and address Ochoa you have to have the grill carried in our handbag or something but this is what this is all we allow time. We talk about some of the youngsters today doing crazy things and I believe back in them days if we had the same amount of money and the same opportunities that they have today I think we might be a lot worse and then the youngsters are today
anyway. We didn't think of it we had to have so many possessions. Children of 15 didn't have to have an automobile to be happy. We were lucky if we even had six girls when we were just as happy with without them is happier without them than people are today then they have far more to send him. When I went to school there were seven boys. We had two or three boys in our school and we remember real well they were really mean they'd grow knife on the teacher and and you know joining the teacher swearing it was hard to get along with just like they have some now. But it wasn't I don't think it was bad because our parents had more of a hold on their children and then we had a town police and that was
after sort of I think about eight o'clock he better not be on the street are all getting down to taking any action. You never put any of them in jail for you to scare them and make them think you he would too if you didn't mind because they're just small town but the policeman has had control of the children more children have now. We land where we had floods in the spring. And as children we can go out and build our own ramps and we all watched it go sailing around and it was an adventure to us. And I also lived during the Prohibition era when I've gone to some of the speakeasies as just a teenage can and I we found them exciting and actually they were extremely dangerous. Family life nowadays seems to move so much more
rapidly than it did a generation or so ago. Families were much closer knit. It seems to me the family stayed together now everybody in the family has his own activities. A child of eight or nine may have to keep some kind of day book or agenda to know what is going to be on a given occasion. We have it seems to me activated life to the point that we have destroyed all this leisure time which everybody talks about. It's a mystery to me that they could have played baseball in the day time years ago and got people to come to watch it. Why don't those people working now people are too busy to go out to ball games in the daytime they have to play every ball game at night. Because as we say they're too busy in the daytime yet now we are supposed to have more leisure time. Whatever it is I don't know.
Yes I think people today have more responsibility in their daily life than they did say 50 years ago. Very definitely because first of all there are very many more things to do and the very fact that there is more to do means that there are more responsibilities. One has dozens of things to do in a day whereas 50 years ago a calendar probably had three items on it and. There are many periods in my past particularly that were less hectic less rushed less well too much movement and I think that it was probably due to a slower pace. Maybe it was we had left just Spain and don't seem to me
that we had before I went to more theatres I went to more concerts I went to the library more I read more books but I still can't list more. I can remember days when we didn't have indoor plumbing when we had to haul our own wok water when we had two or three floods where no water came into the house and we were left with filth and the canned goods that we had in the basement were left with no labels on them etc.. They were an experience that I would say I would not like to know but very definitely I would not want to go back and go through them again. There was a period of time during the war that we enjoyed tremendously. I was horribly lonely so lonely that I thought I would die for California and yet we lived at Parris Island we lived under
better conditions and we had lived and here we had more money we were free of debt and were in many ways much better off. We lived in a very active period of time. That is the only time when I would like to go back to relive it and see if I would do it any differently. I can remember her personally in a lot of people can remember party lines and I can say this personally I know that there's a generalization. Well because I knew the poverty as a child in the early 30s and you know I speak it was I mean I know that there are millions of people in America where there's a generalization where indeed the notion of not having a full meal was almost an impossibility
where the matter our furnishings in the family household was not an easy thing to come by when you could remember that on an OEM on a particular floor are because you could be parents could not afford to buy and no one would be painted and then spun you didn't design and then paint again and spun it in some kind of design. And where food suddenly a bowl was soup would become a major meal would you had enough bread to eat with the soup hour yet and you think we're on time certainly to be destitute and to be hungry and could not possibly be a good time. And yet I think in retrospect you think of it the things that i can we called roast is the fact that I tasted food. But yet to this day it was never a time in which I truly tasted soup and I tasted soup and I was destitute and there was never a time in which bread
took on the reality of bread now and thinking that you can still remember the taste you can still remember the sense of that wonderful you like burning one's tongue on coffee and you tasted warm steaks and cold steaks and red centered steaks and well done steaks and so on and a mirrored maze of experience the thing that I can recall most with fondness Sometimes a piece of gray black and red and being eaten with mittens and a hot dish and actually had warm and cold and suddenly becomes room and signed and fixed up because there was a genuine has a reality and I'm most interested in this one way or a better way of life you have to find on your own or even an abundance we have to find I value a higher reality of our material things and I think most long time we have not even a scrap of brevity to say the morning sickness.
During the Depression days we lived on a salary that is so ridiculous now you hesitate to even mention that we were well off with a salary of $45 a month. The people around us to have that and actually we were. We frequently went without. Still we did have the security of the knowledge that we had each other and we were together and my daughter didn't know what the depression meant. She heard people talk about it but she didn't know what it meant to she went to college. She wonder no how come she didn't know about the depression. But that was because my husband I thought we should protect her against that kind of knowledge. I made her clothes I bought a yard of material 15 times a yard leave her dresses. She never knew what depression it meant. There's no doubt at all that life today is better than it used to be because if we were in the Times of Agenor two or three generations ago or a hundred
years ago or a thousand years ago. Probably most of us here today would not be here today. The major change it seems to me is in the health and sanitation standards that have permitted us to live so that when you ask if life today is really better than it used to be the answer is simple that the way life used to be was in many cases not at all. The infant mortality the death from common diseases appendicitis probably claimed countless victims whereas now it's a simple operation no doubt about it. Life today really is better than it used to be. Yes we live better lives than we used to live. We live longer we feel better the fact is so great. There's hardly any things you can have that if
they were to kill you as a whole we live much better. Yes life today is much better we have better telephones better lights that are everything than we had when I was a child our food is better and milk is better for anything anything or practically anything you want to nanny is better today and I wouldn't want to personally when want to return to an earlier period in life because of this and I think you'll find this true of it. Even the older people that have a tendency to while the border on Sinaloa day and to live in the past so to speak they wouldn't they. They might talk a good fight. But as far as going back to these this period of time or living in this period of time I don't think any of them do it. Sure we miss old fashioned cooking but
I doubt if anybody my own age or older than I am can be any better fed in that period of time than I and we are today we have frozen foods that we didn't have then we have methods of canning that with the knowledge that we didn't have then a tomato taste like a tomato whether it comes out of a cannon or the corn canned or frozen in the middle of winter is better than it used to be and we didn't have that in one or time that we don't have corn on the cob but you can get that today frozen and cooked up and that's just as good as it is out of the field or darn near as good. There's a lot of things in our everyday life a lot of people just don't realize are improvements. So on the whole I don't I don't think that the old days old anything other than the fact that they just didn't move at such a rapid pace that's my only objection to life today and I find that I can slow myself down without. And enjoy things more without affecting my earnings or anything else I think it's
just a state of mind of the person has to develop over a period of time. And I remember one time a little boy who lived across from my mother now retiree Mary Dan and little boy lived across my mother's fell out of a tree and broke his arm just don't let your snapped Hester. I packed my things and then they didn't know what to do and I said Well I think actually the woman of the house she starts screaming she didn't want to do and no more but just as dirty as you could be she said I had to warn you pulled out. I said don't worry about that I forgot. Mothers and called out for any other doctor again. So she's a doctor and the doctor come in and he was really aggravated he banged down his little suitcase to make our doctor they don't tell you what's wrong. And NASA's own act is not a new card. Some of the women call you but
I see the boy broke is not much account you're actually broke that's correct that they were normal and he says I didn't bring any spin or to do anything. I really don't need a spin I said you don't have to have friendship and I said good my dad to cross the street to turn getting the shingles. One of the regular shingles you always kept everything with shingles on the house. So he looked at me nice going then he can give you a shingle and I'm not I'm not woman just having a bit you know our kind of stay with a woman proud of fighting the little boy and he was in pain and so he sent a woman over to get a shingle and he came over there and he looked at me didn't you know like did I tell him how to do it work. But I know that with a shingle he took and wrapping paper around it you know dollars and then he put that down on his own I mean any fishing here any right to know and you know you bring him up. They all come in TAR and they need to take care of the very members that are due to the time being Richard Gere. Oh I think the doctors are much better now.
They know more they have more to go on. In the realm of doctors our medical man and I feel the country as a whole has lost much in the stressing the specialists. I don't the general practitioner who is your friend you're confident and he certainly put himself out in many many ways. He was less of a production line and more of a personal friend and somebody who really truly cared about you personally. You go to a doctor he doesn't care whether you have a seizure again as long as he's got your money or paid over the line and that is not a doctor to me. Well insofar as medicine and science is concerned
all the remarkable advances in me in curing the ills of mankind in the big strides made in saving people's lives that were lost in the days when things were unknown. I think it is better. But in other ways the whole world seems to be in such a turmoil. And everyone is all upset and worried about the band and we can hear that in years gone by. We can have that. Well I think the term good is an overworked exploration. After all it has been said before that the good old days to the next generation will be the days that now exist in which we are now living the good old days doesn't mean too much. There were things that we no longer have that were enjoyable but I don't think anybody who sets down
and thinks seriously on the matter would like to return to the so-called good old days. From the standpoint of horse and buggies and Arnold will be you crank kerosene lights and things of this nature and this is what is usually referred to as the good old days. I don't think anybody really wants to buy it. I can remember when they used to have to get out of the buggy and hold the horses when there was an automobile coming down the road from where the horses run away. We'd stop our transportation to let the car go by and then we get back and then finally Old Charlie horse got accustomed to the automobiles and he didn't pay much attention in the early days with the side curtains flapping as you go along and the old high wheel Studebaker one of our neighbors had enjoyed riding in it for the first time I rode it out. You know a lot of people said they ought to release things off the road. They're a nuisance they're going to be an enemy to mankind I can remember
here an old codger saying that and I get to be an old codger now and my philosophy is just the opposite I learned my lesson from those little boys. Come on to your changes come on with the improvements come on with new gadgets this and then and see if we can adapt them. Life is a continual wrestle with choices you've got to choose between this and between that and I don't think life's getting any more complicated than it was in the days when I was a boy because there are many more things to choose from but you can only choose a given number. You haven't changed the number of hours in the Dane you still need eight hours of those for sleep and you take your waking hours make it choices make it wisely and you can live a rich full life. There was a time when things did indeed seem slower or easier and there was more contemplation and less simply in the
verb doing but I think at the same time that this aged we're living in because it is speeded up. We have just begun begun to tap the possibilities of the excitement of the age. In other words my feeling is that we have not adjusted to the potentiality of our region the excitement of our age because I think in this respect it can't mean that we're living now in a more exciting age than man has ever encountered. Unless we choose not to make it exciting if we choose to kind of cry. You don't mind the expression cry in our beer about the good old days crying earlier about the fact that we're losing all the things that were good for Perth we start to do this and we are in a sad plight because we want to open ourselves up to the possibilities of today. If we do that I will become pygmy sized narrowed and then suddenly our age will become terribly
destructive to the individual and become something that will deter and destroy him. I am a temptation to say years with me when that time I was 17 and 18 and I life please some of the writings a time when I was young and politically speaking ground and 20 opponents are rocking and calms down the streets and Austin and Manson scene in the far distant places news and fueling a romance and some variation of sounds wrong to me again that you and that zest when the world was there for the asking when you could simply imagine what you were going to do with the world and so on that there was no stopping it you found the celebration of your own potentiality to do wrong things. If you simply could be signed and you could enjoy sadness as much as gladness and you could wallow in those and you can wallow in the loneliness of
O-Town in a Georgia town or in a town and hotel room in Japan or a lonely place you can arm the train crossing the great country and so on and at the same you're doing it and feeling sound homesick wallowing in the in a kind of sentiment and I think I think the critical self-serving knows along to a time or regain the use of when really even the thought of going home. Isn't just a fact and you can't go home again and I thought I'm whining on me again. I don't prefer to do and I would not present I think there are more important to the future tomorrow that tomorrow is going to be awesome goings on with exciting I don't speak of good times.
This is foolishness. Speaker is going to be a fine time a peaceful time a glorious time a sweet time but they're going to be adventuresome times I mean leaders to help the mainlanders to give us the afternoon and doing the living and the consciousness I can think of no better time. Going to church or whatever. The good old days. A study in the style of the second in the series. The American people. The American people is produced by Riverside radio WRVO the FM station of the Riverside Church in the city of New York. Okie affiliates of the national educational radio network and for broadcast overseas by the Voice of America and the radio networks of other nations. As for providing certain of the special interviews used in
preparing this program Riverside radio W. of E.R. acknowledges with thanks the cooperation of radio stations w k r Michigan State University East Lansing University of Texas Austin a producer University Lafayette Indiana University of Alaska Fairbanks w i l l the University of Illinois. A MCU Albany Medical College Albany New York City both State Teachers College Muncie Indiana San Diego State College California WUOM University of Michigan in Ann Arbor WB K-Y University of Kentucky Lexington and US University of South Dakota vermilion. Your comments inquiries and suggestions regarding these programs on the American
- The American people
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- This program, the second of two parts, uses interviews with various Americans to explore American nostalgia in the middle part of the twentieth century.
- This series examines contemporary American issues through interviews and personal essays.
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Producing Organization: WRVR (Radio station: New York, N.Y.)
Reporter: Gerson, Thomas I.
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