The good old days
I think every generation looks back on their lives and decides the time they were young to be the best and the baby boomer generation is no different. Hardly a day goes by that someone doesnít post on Facebook how good the 50ís were and how we all survived without hardly any of the rules and regulations we have today.
But thereís something peculiar about remembering and itís a mistake we all make. As more time passes between the event and our memory of it, we tend to remember only the good times. We shove the bad times to the dark recesses of our mind because they donít provoke good thoughts and pleasant memories like the good times do. So, no matter if it was school, work, relationships or love affairs, we hang on to our good thoughts and ignore the bad ones.
This logic holds true for groups as well as individuals. The 50ís were good for some of us, not so good for others. For example, it was a wonderful time to be a white man. White men ruled this country and practically everything in it back then. They were head of household, made the rules, made the laws and anyone who wasnít a white man was expected to do what they were told. So the 50ís werenít a very good time for blacks in the United States because our country was still primarily segregated.
It certainly was in Arkansas where I grew up. Itís amazing to me now to look back on the four years I spent at the University of Arkansas and realize there wasnít a black person on campus. I remember well the 1957 forced integration of Little Rock Central High School by troops that had been federalized by President Eisenhower because the Arkansas Governor, Orval Faubus, wouldnít allow blacks to integrate public schools in Arkansas. I remember that blacks even lived in separate communities, away from the white folks, because they were perceived as being less than human. It wasnít a good time for blacks in America.
It also wasnít a good time for women in America. Few worked because a womanís job in the 50ís was to get married, have children, raise them properly and take care of the house and the cooking. The men worked the jobs, earned the money and decided independently of his wife how much if any of his paycheck she would get. The few women who chose to buck this trend and work outside the home were not only scorned and put down by those women who didnít, they also made, on average, only half of what men made and were assigned derogatory names because of their efforts. Wives didnít make decisions about where the family lived, what kind of job the husband took or where he took it and when they were told they were moving, their only option was to pack up and move too because there was no discussion as to whether or not moving or taking a different job would be a good decision or not. If the husband thought it would be, that was all that was needed.
My mother was one of those few women who bucked the trend and found employment on her own as a professional model in Tulsa, Oklahoma but there were many times I wished she was just a regular mother like all my friendsí mothers because her working often created more problems than it solved. Her working outside the home ended when she contracted multiple sclerosis before reaching the age of 30.
But because I was a white male, although a young one, the world was my playground because I could do literally whatever I wanted to do with no governor attached to my behavior at all. White guys look back on the 50ís with such favor and admiration because we saw ourselves as being the chosen ones.
Many other people in America werenít.