Magnolia-opus 1

One America Ends, Another Begins

Photo by the author
Photo by the author | Source

The family had lived in smaller, less dramatic houses before this one was even built. Now that the building business was booming right along with the postwar baby business, and with Dad getting established in his career, getting a new home was the order of the day.

Most veterans and their wives viewed this as a necessity. For vets, it was in the interest of and essential to getting their own interrupted lives back on track, so they could continue pursuing goals and ideals of their lives they'd dreamed of before shipping off to theaters of the war, where they became solidified into firm ambitions.

Many had just emerged into service from college which they'd at least begun prior to December 7, 1941. A few lucky ones had already graduated, which gave them immediate entry into commissioned service.

For those who had progressed toward their graduation enough to highlight them for possible officers' training, the military service of their choice provided officer-bound training at prominent colleges to be completed before assigning them to their battle areas. Junior and Sonny’s father had been in that category; and after going to several prominent universities where the Navy had set up pre-Officer's Candidate School and then finishing the OCS program at the Naval Academy, he went into the service as a junior officer on the ship to which he was assigned, which had proceeded to its assignment in the South Pacific.

typical 1950's room style
typical 1950's room style
Ozzie & Harriet - typical ideal of the growing postwar family
Ozzie & Harriet - typical ideal of the growing postwar family
Typical 1950's kitchen table & chairs
Typical 1950's kitchen table & chairs
Generations of a typical prewar family
Generations of a typical prewar family
Typical young man in a fedora - on his way up the postwar ladder of success.
Typical young man in a fedora - on his way up the postwar ladder of success.
Typical young wife of the 50s -Wonder Woman.
Typical young wife of the 50s -Wonder Woman.
"South Pacific" depicted Navy guys stationed on a tropical island.
"South Pacific" depicted Navy guys stationed on a tropical island.
A young officer falls in love with an island girl. . .
A young officer falls in love with an island girl. . .
At the same time, the "yanks" in Europe found love in the arms of European girls. . .
At the same time, the "yanks" in Europe found love in the arms of European girls. . .

The lad, our boomer named Sonny, was only about seven years old when the family had moved into a beautiful new house on a brand-new street, which was yet to be paved. This was the flagship house for the new development.

Sonny and his older brother, Junior, a boomer of the earlier post-war years, shared a room in this grand new home. It was not a large room, but it was a sunny upstairs room with high windows facing west. Immediately upon leaving its confines through the door at the far-end of the upstairs hall, one was greeted with the instantly visible panoramic view of the spectacular living room below that loft-like hallway. The other bedrooms and bath opened onto the hallway and the open staircase led down to the lower level.

The living room's spectacular ceiling rose from the house’s front one-story wall which had a big fixed-glass window overlooking the small front yard and from that level, the ceiling swept up at a steep angle to meet the peak of the house above the room’s inside half-wall. This dramatic two-story wall featured a stunning stone fireplace which opened all the way through that "divider" wall to present the other side with its own stone fireplace in a wall which included a built-in bookcase and a long homey stone hearth for the large family room.

Both rooms shared an open spacious terrazzo-floored entrance-way which opened into an elegant dining area, all part of the same space with no walls except the fireplace wall only halfway across the floor area. The living room had a shag carpet, while the family room had an asbestos tile floor, good for family games and activities and typical of homes being built then.

The family room's walls were 10-foot tall which lent it a cozier ambiance than the drama of the living room with its breath-takingly steep slope. The sense of spaciousness and lack of confines throughout the downstairs living areas was wonderful.

Anyone coming to the front door was greeted with a dramatic view of the inside of the house, with its open staircase on the side wall, the open loft-like hall upstairs - but most of all the sweep of the living room ceiling. Dad had suggested to the builder leaving the stairway open, in lieu of a solid wall and coat closet underneath it the building plan called for. The effect was much more arresting than any other houses which would be built on the street.

All the vets had goals and visions for their futures, in which they would follow in footprints of past generations but more efficiently. Their wartime experiences had expanded their expectations of reaching those goals faster. The atmosphere of dynamic movement had gained momentum with the war efforts and the generation who had provided the "people power" to accomplish it all. Their visions of personal success had been accelerated but they would build with principles on which they'd been reared. Decency, honor, persistence were their instilled standards. When War had interrupted their more leisurely quest of their own "stars" it merely added & intensified those elements of greater focus and determination. It became their purpose to get back to making their marks and building on their dreams.

They had the tenacity which had seen those former generations through wars and economic depressions and helped produce these incredible new opportunities which these vets could now more fully appreciate.

If war had suggested other choices as they had experienced other cultures, it was but a temporary side-trip from which they expected to (and were expected to) return and come back to the girl back home and resume the standards - and the prejudices - which were very much in the mold of their parents and their parents’ parents which they'd learned from infancy.

They had a kind of cocksure confidence which radiated from a sense of security in knowing who they were and who they came from. They weren't distracted with questions of who or what is "right". They simply didn't doubt that the way they were trained WAS right. It wasn't a decision, it was an assumption.

Going into other countries to help win battles as heroes, where other countries were already ravaged by battles those strong young heroes were welcomed without challenge, further boosting their confidence in their attitudes, their humor, their abilities. They returned to their communities almost as they were before except for being more reassured than ever. It's rather shocking to sit through a "war movie" of the 40s and 50s and see how cocky and - actually, rather obnoxious - the attitude of superiority really was, and so taken for granted that no one seemed to have thought to question it in real life or in making the movies!

Back home afterwards, these young men and the few military women returning fully expected to earn their economic independence and to provide for their families as prior generations had always done, except better and faster. Their chosen wives were expected to attend to the homes while it was up to them to provide the best housing and lifestyle for the homes possible and they felt sure they were up to it.

If they needed to complete their college and career training, they did so. If they were already prepared to enter the work force, they did that. The services offered education assistance for veterans and it was unlimited, so that they could return later for graduate degrees if that were to become their choice.

G.I. Bill - Education

President Roosevelt signs the G.I. Bill for Vets to go to school.
President Roosevelt signs the G.I. Bill for Vets to go to school.
It was a generous offer, though it delayed getting into the workforce.
It was a generous offer, though it delayed getting into the workforce.

So in a few years, couples were getting established, having children, buying homes and becoming the continuing members of communities and fulfilling the lifestyles of their visions. The new affluence following the War began to open up more and more "extras" for them, more than they'd even known to expect, while acceleration of the pace following the war left little time to analyze or to critically evaluate any of that.

The Dads were absorbed in "making it" and their wives were swept away with the blossoming of wonderful new experience as mistresses of their homes and a delightful affordability of it all.

Both genders had learned from their parents who had exemplified the lessons they intended to instill. Many of their parents took time to explain expectations in stories with morals in them and they knew they could expect the schools to support their values and teach them to their children.

As children the new parents had been expected to excel at school and likewise expected the same of their children. They'd had no "hang-ups" as kids nor did they expect their children to. Children in general were not expected to have any "nerves"! In fact, children weren’t regarded as psychological individuals at all. They were thought of somewhat like unformed wild things needing "training" and like pets were to be trained to "mind" and to "behave". They were expected to be little living testimonies to their parents high standards.

These new parents didn’t realize that their ideals were less obvious and self-proving now to the new generation than their predessors had been to them. In those previous times when transitions were smooth and orderly, they were taken for granted. Large families of many relatives had been close and shared the same standards. Now with greater mobility as the men responded to better work offers in distant cities, the transition of values from generation to generation simply met blockage. While new parents felt that they were providing their children even more to support their expectations, the very affluence contributed its own contrary effects. TV came into the home, bringing many influences other than examples of family elders, whose influences other than the parents' were most often missing from the homes and when present, were not honored as elders had been in the past.

The new parents had grown up having those influences in their own lives. They were taken for granted so that they had no concept how to replace them . They were were barely aware what was now missing. If their children misbehaved, it never occurred to them that it might be a cry for help. Child psychology consisted of one Dr. Spock whose advice contradicted parental guidance and recommended allowing children to decide when to eat and when to sleep but offered little in the way of counseling or guidance for parents or for children. His popularity attests to the confusion young parents were experiencing in the dichotomy of their world.

Now what?

Kids were supposed to be grateful and were not supposed to complain. They were expected to 'play nicely'. So long as they raised no ruckus and refrained from imposing on parents' rest, work or entertainment with friends, little concern was directed to kids' little quirks and personalities. When they had disagreements, the wiser of the kids knew how to shift blame to the less aware, and to manage to come out looking heroic while the innocent unwittingly suffered the consequences. In a situation in which appearances counted and objective investigation was seldom used, the result was that there was damage done to tender self-images each time.

Kids lacking in perceived admired traits were given more stringent training and those displaying more perceived approved traits were rewarded with more approval. Parents expected conformity and were uneasy about variations.

The War experience seldom fitted its vets for introspection into themselves, much less their offspring who weren't expected to deviate in ways unfamiliar to their own. Yet too often no real connection was built through which the boomers could absorb the same values and adopt the same hopes their parents felt, except superficially.

For those unequipped to "get it", this factored out to be a growing gulf between them, while the youngsters who learned how to "act" or play the game were rewarded with success and were free to pursue their own interests, while those who were confused and at sea became either rebellious or lost, frustrated and cut off from themselves. And - unfortunately - virtually invisible.

Looking at it objectively, it was no one's fault. The older generation did what they knew to do and thought they were providing the best for their children. There was a gap so wide and deep, however, that it either inspired some to become rugged scrappers and others to become alienated and cut off, and mostly from themselves.

Results of the mis-match between expectations and what were the inevitable new realities are abundantly portrayed in the media of the times.

Movies which trace the young adulthood of boomers, such as "Born To Be Wild" and "Rebel Without A Cause" bring it out painfully.

In popular TV sitcoms of the period, kids who tried to conform came off as rubber stamps of their parents, - but parents’ ideal kids. nevertheless. Those who "acted up" were seen as brats or bad influences. The depth of that ideal was a veneer, however, although meant to present the ideal.   But the depth of despair in many of the others of the generation was to be long-term and far-reaching for some.

Rebel Without A Cause - trailer

But let's not get so far ahead of our story. . . .

Sonny and Junior had many good times and too many battles "behind closed doors". And Mom and Dad had more than a few battles, as well - usually behind closed doors, but inevitably spilling over into everyday life.

See Previous: Magnolia - Prologue . . . . .  See Next: Magnolia – opus2

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42 comments

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

A very accurate portrayal of the times, Nellieanna, and where did you find all those wonderfully appropriate images? I think Marcus Welby, MD, also represented that era but I'm not certain. How could I be when I'm not certain what I had for breakfast?

Thanks again for the memories.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

drbj! Thank you so much, m'dear for finding this newly published thing and reading it! I confess I did a lot of raking to find the images and then chose the best of the pile.

I just looked it up - Marcus Welby was in the late 60s and into the 70s. Of course Robert Young who was the father in "Father Knows Best" played Marcus Welby - with a few more gray hairs to his credit! :)

I had another series or movie in mind too which I discovered came along later and so didn't use it in this segment. Of course the boomer generation is still in progress! But I wanted to keep the focus on the early years of it as background. The path of that particular history thread is really rather amazing and is the story I want to tell.

Actually, though, the entire 20th century's history is amazing. I didn't experience all of the early years of it, but my parents did and I heard so much about it and was given so many images, it almost seemed like being there.

Any one of us could give a perspective on various parts we have lived through, though; and they might each be different - but still, related by the underlying thread of the era. Many major events played heavy roles.

Thanks again for visiting and leaving such interesting comments! It is certainly my pleasure to share the memories.

I'm smiling about your not being certain what you had for breakfast. I believe I forgot to go to bed!


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Nellieanna I loved reading the second installment of yoour Magnolia series - thanks for sharing again.


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

You're taking us deeper into the times, Nellieanna! And what a clear perspective you have of those days! :)


BJBenson profile image

BJBenson 6 years ago from USA

Yes, keep on going. I really enjoyed your hub again. Will be waiting for more.


Jamiehousehusband profile image

Jamiehousehusband 6 years ago from Derbyshire, UK

Well I'm back for part II - I find it amazing the contrast, in the 50's between US homes and Uk - open-plan living was not at all a way of life then, on the contrary homes built here immediately post-war were inferior to what had previously existed and labelled even up to this time, as 'Gerry/Jerry built', although the origin of this phrase is unknown and in existence long before WWI - it means 'badly built'and is most used to describe homes built in the aftermath of the bombings here. Very good pics and information which I'll continue to follow with interest. Thanks Nellieanna.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

You should really try to bring out a historical book of the period. Your turn of phrase and your obvious intellignece forces one to want to know more about that specific period. How about stringing these hubs into a final book version? :-)


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thanks Billy - glad you came over and visited and read my hub. Knowing of your keen interest in current events and their effects now (which I like to read) - I hope you enjoyed it! There were probably the roots of some of the "plants" which have grown up and borne fruit today - in the economic and political scene as well as the more personal, which is my focus.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

FP - thanks! Yes - I guess I do have a clear perspective of those times, more than I'd thought about for a long time. You know how the past slips into the nooks and crannies of one's mind! haha - This came back into focus in my effort to set the background for my story. I'm so pleased you're following it!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

BJB - thank you, lady! I'm pleased that you came back to read on. I will be continuing. Thanks for encouraging!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Jamie - As I've been writing - obviously totally from my own perspective, not only as a teenager at the time of the war and a young adult in the aftermath - but strictly an American - and a Texan, to boot, (lol) I've wondered how it must have been in the war-torn countries, facing devastation of their countryside and homelives too. Would be great to have another hub from that perspective - and see how it's has affected your country's future.

The period itself was an enormous world-life-changer. I think of the countries who were our "enemies" then & of their own devastation and rebuilding after the end of the fighting. They've regained positions in the world & won back world respect & friendship - but they had much work to do too.

Yes - I can certainly understand how the UK had to rush to rebuild, and probably the economic scenario had been damaged too. But people had to have houses so they naturally would be put up hurredly - gerry-rigged, as you say. I'm not sure about where that phrase came from either; there are some really offensive versions of it over here in fact. Not only did the phrases intend to put down the work currently being so described, but were about insulting whomever was referenced as those whose work was substandard in the opinion of those using the terms, often prejudicially. LOL.

But in any case, it does describe a shoddy job. ;)

But in the UK after the war - it was surely excuseable. When I visited over there in 1998 I noticed that homes are more compact & conserve space more than they do here, in fact, though they're well-built.

My intention in writing Magnolia has always been the story of a particular boomer. I discovered a need to set the background of what it actually meant to those born after the war, & possibly still does set them apart. It wasn't the war or the quantity of new births which they were part of, though, which set them apart nearly so much as the unique gulf that somehow just happened out of the facts that existed to separate the generation who fought & participated in it from their children who followed. I've never seen that pinpointed. One sees only the war and the boom in its connection.

I realized I had a unique vantage point, to have been well acquainted with the boomers' parents' generation (my siblings') but I was not "of it" and my own marriage & family came along quite awhile later. Those older folks had confidently run their lives on firm ideas before, during and after the war, but those who were born (or grew up) following it didn't have that certainty and had a lot of new challenges to meet. Nothing quite fit the holes. It was a puzzle with different holes than the old pegs fit and no new pegs available.

The "whole new world" had very few solid connections with the previous one - and there were actually traceable reasons for that! I'd sensed it before but it was in getting into the relating of the events in the hubs that I've really 'seen' it with more clarity. It helps me to understand the boomer I know, first of all, as well as my siblings and the others of their generation.

Though I wasn't a boomer but had lived through the war years & am "of" neither generation, I'm kind of an innocent bystander. But the big differences in ages of my parents and siblings and mine, which were also punctuated by the war, - have even become more understandable to me. I can see that those older generations were very grounded and confident in their firm ideas before, during and following the war, but those who were born and grew up afterwards didn't have those fixed ideas and found they had a puzzle with holes the old pegs didn't fit, anyway.

So - thanks for bearing with me in this. I appreciate your visiting and commenting! Always good to see you, Jamie - and to read you, too!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

De Greek - what a pleasure to see you visiting and commenting. Perhaps you're right. An historical account of the period I'd put together would have a differnet slant, I suspect. Might be timely - who knows?

I'm recalling an historic period before I was born in which another World War wrought major economic & social changes. I couldn't view it from the perspective I can view the Second WW but I heard about it from my parents who very much did experience it. An aunt who was younger than my mother became a real 'flapper' & was one of those whose life was affected by the times. Also there were ample magazines of the times in the house when I was very young & was "reading" everything printed & pictured I could put my hands on. haha. Those were very interesting times, too.

Anyway, I appreciate the suggestion & words of complimentary encouragement. Who knows? It has merit! Bears mulling over.

And so happy to see you! I've been sort of "ground in" catching up on desk work & hub work so haven't seen much of you for several days. hugs.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Hi Mam Nellieanna, war is a life changing event. I am learning a lot from this hub and the other first installement Mam Nellie, you are so intelliegent, I am Asian by descent migrated her ein the US and this helps me a lot in understanding many things about this country--Thank you for this wonderful share of what transpired and still transpring, Maita


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Yes, Maita - you're perceptive to make the connections. The background of any country or any generation, if known and understood, definitely makes it more possible to relate to them. And of course - as they say, "those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it." It would be so much better if we all learned and learned how to avoid the same old pitfalls. As life becomes more and more complicated (by being in each others' faces, so to speak, with instantaneous media & communicaton) - it becomes more and more vital that we do. I look around, though - and it's a bit disheartening to see so many folks who haven't progressed much, who are stuck in a rut which no longer works or fits the needs of today's world. But - the dinosaurs didn't get it either. sigh. . .

Thanks for stopping and commenting!


Jamiehousehusband profile image

Jamiehousehusband 6 years ago from Derbyshire, UK

Thanks again Nellieanna - I only know what I've read and been told by older people and would not presume to write about such a subject that I could only 'cut, copy, paste and spin' !

We need a more mature UK hubber to volunteer to write on this subject with preferably first-hand experience - anyone out there??


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

I understand, Jamie. Well - there may be someone, though possibly not so many of us - at least not active online!

But we'll keep searching, OK? Thanks for the response!


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas

Wow you really described that era in time so accurate. Times certainly have changed back then children were supposed to be seen and not heard and now they are so out of control. Those old television shows exaggerated family life so much and were portrayed as perfect when husband's were actually able to beat their wives and the police wouldnt want to get involved. Sometimes its nice to go back to simpler times but we could do without the ignorance and the lack of rights for women. Great hub. Cheers.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

You're right, ladyjane - those trade-offs for "simpler" times but times without rights for so many levels of society were questionable, at the least.

My mother used to laugh & say "anyone can wash dishes with soap." (she was skimpy with it.) Well - I guess anyone can keep order by denying people's rights & keeping them in subjugation.

However there are many ways to subjugate people. In these times, many are controlled by the things, the unhealthy foods foisted off on them, being convinced that they're owed something for nothing, EXPECTING everything - so that in a real emergency or disaster, they'd likely be helpless. Those are just other kinds of control and loss.

The most important thing to guard is one's integrity, whatever the external conditions. Sometimes that means withstanding pressure and denial and sometimes it means resisting temptation to buy into what's "too good to be true".

Those old times I'm describing were the prep ground of much that has followed, including some very difficult personal traumas for many.

Thanks for the very thoughtful comment, ladyjane!


Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

Nellieanna,

Are you certain that you don't want these memories turned in a book of some sort, for people to keep for posterity ?

To me this is pure living history and the sort of thing that shouldn’t be lost t the generations to come. You memories cover a time period that saw great change, I myself have seen some of those changes but the addition of your knowledge and experiences have greatly enhanced my understanding and provided many answers to questions until now I hadn’t thought of asking.

After two World Wars and an economic depression I can now understand what drove our parents to create the world we now possess.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbour instead of claiming a great victory one of the Japanese Admirals confessed, “I fear all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant.”

How true those words proved to be, a giant whose hand still covers the world today. What started as the dreams and desires of those returning veterans fuelled the industry that saw a TVs, washing machines, refrigerators and a car for every home. That dream quickly crossed the Atlantic, but even in my memory I lived in a home that had non e of those things.

Today every newlywed couple would never contemplate setting up home without such essentials plus twenty, thirty more items without which their life would be blighted.

It was a fantastic dream and an even greater achievement the memory of how it all came about should not be lost.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

That's so, Merlin. The expectations that developed after the Second WW were more and more expansive, while possibly less and less close to the bone. I've come to sense that it came out of the gap I've noticed (from knowing people very well from both sides of the gap). Those who grew up before the war assumed a lot of standards they'd always known - but often seemed not to communicate effectively but only a more insistent demand for performance and results. They visibly measured their own and their kids' success more stringently on somewhat superficial things and expected faster results in achieving them. The kids who caught on, shone, while others were "in the shadow" of those who caught on.

So the new "boomer" generation bought into the rush to success message but not always the rocks upon which past generations had built theirs & by which they'd measured their "real" successes.

It produced a fantastic burst of new THINGS, which became measurements of worth more often than not. It's not to say that the accomplishments aren't admirable or that the generation didn't develop their own standards of behaviour - but I'm afraid a lot of the really important traditional and standards of lasting value fell through the cracks (except as formalities)& new parents' confidence was was almost immediately put into question. Swarms of advisors overwhelmed them and undermined their natural sense of what to do as parents.

I remember a personal experience, and I wasn't actually in that generation, but the advice of "experts" was becomng entrenched. During my first pregnancy I so wanted to do everything right. I studied the baby-advice books, especially the Better Homes & Gardens Baby Book. When I brought my new son home from the hospital and started to bathe him, I had the book open on the floor by the tub, trying to follow the instructions to the letter. My son was screaming, I was crying so I could hardly read the instructions. Well my husband walked in and calmly said, "Why don't you just wash him?" - Voila, I thought! Yeah - why don't I? So I put that book away and never referred to it again. I let my own common sense and maternal instincts guide me. But I barely got by that challenge! It could have gone another way.

My middle sister whose husband was away in the war did give birth to boomers soon after he returned was dedicated to Dr. Spock and his absurd advice. I won't say the kids were mixed up - but the imaginary boomers I'm writing about could easily have been them, except my eldest niece was a niece & both the boomers in Magnolia are boys.

Anyway - thanks for the suggestion. I'm just trying to write now. I suppose it has lasting value. I'm aware of being in a most unusual vantage point for several historic eras and aware enough to record it, unlike some who lived in those times. Maybe it will develop some time. Thanks.


Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

I had forgotten the good Doctor and how he managed to screw up an entire generation.

What I can't understand is why nobody saw through him, surely those overly large ears were a dead give away !


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

hahaha! Well - MY mother - of a much earlier generation - was appalled by him. But she couldn't convince my sister & her husband. Big ears - LOL. hahaha!


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Happy Mothers day Mam Nellie, I know your children are very blessed to have you as MOM, Maita


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Aw - thank you Maita - and a Happy Mother's Day to you!


Dallas Thompson 6 years ago

Great hub. Perhaps my perspective enhances my appreciation of your mosaic of our checkered past. always building for our children's future... Change is built-in... Perhaps the dynamics of change is constant... Different, but the same.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Interesting oservation, Dallas. Yes, change is built-in and inevitable. Some changes are more disruptive than others. The delicate thread of - for want of a better word - tradition and the values which ordinarily accompany change and, even when rejected, are in some ways resumed as the next generation matures - can actually be lost in the shuffle to the extent that the "new generation" isn't even rebelling "against" any specifics or rejecting them - simply finding a need to fashion some of their own from inexperience - generating a repetition nof that process in each subsequent generation to a certain extent. And once the time in which that "skipping over" is in the far distant past - when no survivors are remaining - it may never be realized that it happened.

I know you have a keen mind for details. Perhaps you do or will see this point I'm trying to make. It is a series, as you may have noticed.

Thank you for visiting and commenting.


SilverGenes 6 years ago

Nellieanna, this is definitely my era, too. I'm a boomer and remember things like Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver. Oddly, I remember hoping that people didn't think these shows reflected a true appraisal of children. I was highly embarrassed by them and the Beav was older than I was at the time.

In the early 50s, I was in Ireland and there was no prosperity there at all. My mother waited in long lines for small tins of orange juice, given out only to those with children. Everything was rationed. Our home did not have central heating, either. There was a little fire in each room to keep us warm. I think I would have been warm regardless. I was fortunate to have been surrounded with loving aunts and uncles and a dear grandfather who's memory still makes me feel safe and happy.

Your descriptions came true for me a little later upon returning to North America and yes, we felt entitled. Isn't that odd? I'm so glad you are writing about this time, otherwise it would surface in future years as simply an adaptation to technology.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

We had no central heating either - nor A/C. In my home we had an open gas heater with flames in the living room, built-in ones in the kitchen & bath, also with the open flames. That was it.

The bathroom was tiny - so the heater was always very close, with only a very open grill of a couple of metal rods between the flame and the person. The commode was so close, one didn't dare bend over far or your hair might catch fire!

I was constantly cautioned not to get too close to the heater, especially if I had on my flannel nightie and was trying to warm it up in the living room before making a dash for the bed in a cold bedroom! My parents lived there without the addition of those improvements for the remainder of their lives in the mid-70s.

Some more progressive homes had "attic fans" and even an occasional "evaporative cooler" - but those moist things were horrid in humid climates!

Central heat & air only began to appear generally & then, mostly in new homes for the more affluent later in the 1950s & early 60s. Oh - some of Mother's wealthy friends had some sort of better heating earlier - but it wasn't "central" in the truest sense.

In my first marriage of 18 years from 1954 till 1972, I never had them. But that's a whole 'nuther story. ;) My sister had several window A/C units in her house - it was such a pleasure to visit there!

But since publishing these Magnolia hubs, I've been amazed to learn so much more of how it was in the British Isles at the time. It was much more austere, for sure.

I hope that my depiction of how it was here, with much "more" goodies for most returning service men and their families shows that it wasn't all an unmixed blessing. While there were more "things" than they had known before the war when it was still part of the Great Depression here, the new abundance was often a burden to them, though they may not have realized it fully. What they did with it was what they'd have loved to do in those other days. For their children, having nothing for comparison, it was taken for granted and for the parents, it seemed incredible that their children didn't realize what it meant. And that was only one part of the chasm between them. I am noticing that there never was any deliberate animosity. It was a product of totally different perspectives.

But just as you mention hoping that people didn't mistake those sitcoms for how things really were in families or for kids, parents were in denial enough to think it was how things were! It was their generation who produced the shows and starred in them and they related to the ideal of it!

Their kids couldn't really "get it" - certainly not in the way their parents thought they would or should. Not too difficult to foresee the differences in perspective this mere example would ignite. It's just one of many very typical basic things which were out of sync between them.

Then when the kids did NOT typify those sitcom kids in their real lives, parents were puzzled, unable to explain, and kids definitely had figured out they wouldn't be able to. Some of the kids just took it in stride. Some became more adamantly determined not to be expected to conform or be molded. Some just remained "at sea" and confused, uncertain where they fit - if they fit at all. Anyway it was a most significant era. It's not at all odd that Boomers felt entitled, if one looks into it without pre-conception, or that their elders couldn't understand it.

Anyway - I value your comments very much!!


M Selvey, MSc profile image

M Selvey, MSc 6 years ago from United Kingdom

Nellieanna,

As I mentioned in a previous comment, I am just amazed at the amount of detail that you have remembered and have described here!

Also, I feel as if I am reading something as an ethnologist might report, about the culture. I love how you are describing it but with a more objective distance. This is the way it was, whether it was right or wrong, this is how it happened. It all makes so much sense. I find myself relating to so much of the mentality and behavior you describe as it was exhibited in my own family with the expectations to "play the game" - as if there were a rule book. While parents may have wanted to or thought they were trying to do the right thing, it almost seems like something was sacrificed in the effort - a true emotional bond. This could be why the number of divorces starting going through the roof. Once the mask was off and people realized they could no longer live up to the veneer or facade, the nuclear family started to break down.

Now to read the Opus 2!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

I'm afraid that is part of the result. What really gripped my attention was the why and how of it. Everyone was aware of something gone amiss, I think - but I only just very recently began to connect some dots to try to understand it better.

I realized that I have an extremely unique position to do so. Though I was a kid, my two sisters & my brother were born in 1918, 1920 and 1922. I came along much later - 1932. I was the kid & more or less excluded from adult conversatons as a participant - & there were 5 very vocal adults around our dinner table. But I was not excluded as an avid listener. Oh, sure - I tried to get in my 2 cents and find out who they were discussing, but to no avail. I had to learn to pay attention.

My first husband was my age but my second was born in 1918 and my beloved George was born in 1922.

With my background of siblings, I could see things through their eyes -though never a participant in their times. I knew their music, their ambitions, their values & standards. (I'd better know - my sisters were very hard task-masters, teaching me the way to hold myself, choose my clothes & tow the mark!) I related better to their generation's ideas than to my own! We didn't even have "dance cards" - but my eldest sister knew just how to make sure her dance card was full! No one ever handed me a dance card so I was at a loss! Took me half my lifetime to locate MY place in the continuum! LOL

But then as I was growing up more, I got to know & to relate to my nieces and nephews, then later to my husbands' Boomer generation - my stepkids. In general all that generation I've had the opportunity to know have felt they could talk to me about things they weren't easily able to discuss with their parents. They could sense I had a clue. They loved and respected thier parents but sort of took it for granted that they really didn't have a clue. Yet I fully understand the depth of heart of that generation too.

So, viewing from my fly-on-the-wall perspective of both sides of the generational thing after the war & since - I discovered some things I am not sure too many folks may have noticed, including the participants from both generations involved.

I was urgently prompted by my guts to try to write about it in a way that might clarify it somewhat. So that's what I've been trying to do. Whether or not it's going to be achieved, I already realize that it's set a lot of better minds than mine to thinking about it from their/your perspectives & that is so wonderful.

I think thoe tense times have had a tremendous effect, not just right after the war and for its participants, but ever since.

I also think that great good and progress has come from it in many realms. The bonanza of technology is the result of some of the energy from both the veterans & their goal-oriented Boomers.

But at the same time, much, as you noted, has been accomplished on the ruins & sacrifice of something so vital yet so delicate that to resurrect it would be a bit like a broken Humpty Dumpty & trying to put the pieces back together again.

My hope would be that a better understanding might pave the way to building a new kind of bond related to how people ARE and how the world IS, but with a fonder recall of the past that brought us here and perhaps with less bitterness about the sense of loss.

AS I say - nothing HAS to result from my little effort. It's just a story and a recollection of a time in recent history. But there are a lot of jigsaw pieces to a bigger picture which might help fill in some blanks that have gone wanting for half a century. And knowing they're out there, they might be rediscovered Who knows?

Thanks again for your clear & perceptive attention to the details and valuable comments which are helping me fill in some blanks!


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

I had to take a little break after the "Father Knows Best". It made me sad though it was so touching. I remember wishing my family was more like that when I was a little girl watching that show. Rebel without a Cause, I had an "aha" moment cause you put it perspective to the times, in fact, the entire article accomplished that. Being a child of the fifties and sixties,I know what it was like, my parents were oblivious to the individual needs of six children. Well fifty or so years later and after therapy, getting lost, then found,life in general, I have learned some very valuable insight from reading this very well written article. Can't wait to continue the saga! Blessings!!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS Author

Actually, Kathi - the story has a twist I hadn't gotten around to pinpointing or expanding upon much. But writing it at all was in order to address that "twist" almost at the source. Actually I was laying the foundation for a much more profound contrary effect of all the "sweetness and light", as bitterness and darkness began coming out of it. A real-life situation led me to keep probing back and back to try to understand how it came about and ultimately those factors I tried to picture were what I saw as the stage and cause of it - no one's "fault" - just that too many were simply responding to the times and trying to fit their expectations in somehow - all of which were out-of-whack with their own upbringing and "former lives" before the war and all it brought into being.

I've been amazed how many "boomers" and many born have identified with some of it. And I'm happy to say that the boomer I was concerned for, after all these many years of misery - is getting through some of the hopelessness mixed with rage and frustration to blossom into who I believe he really is. It is amazingly gratifying to know I played at least a minor part.

I guess I had to hold off, because, for one thing -I was not there when these things were reaping the havoc in his life and also - his life is still in progress. He is now nearly 60 and has lived under a cloud most of it. The last thing I'd want to do would be to upset the good progress now going on. It seemed that it was helping so far - but I was unsure of the effect if I were to supply much more from imagination and I didn't ever pry or probe for more. I have no right or desire to do that.

But I think it might be safe to proceed before long. We shall see. Thank you for your insight and input!! (of course, there ARE more opi already on here. I'm not sure how far you've perused what is already here.)


Sasha'sOnHubShell profile image

Sasha'sOnHubShell 5 years ago from Florida

Your creative writing pieces are my absolute favorite. You are so inspiring and unique in your depictions... awakens all the senses. Your Still Loyal Fan, Alexandra

p.s. I am so excited to share with you that I recently started writing for examiner.com as a West Palm Beach Arts Examiner.... PERHAPS you would be interested in allowing me to interview you, either over the phone or email... Your work is so impressive, and I would really love to. Let me know. :) Here's the website it would publish to: http://www.examiner.com/artists-in-west-palm-beach...

All My Best Miss Nellieanna!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS Author

Alex - I'm terribly impressed with your body of work and the depth and breadth of your interests and expertise, on HubPages and beyond. I am amazed and flattered that you are interested in interviewing me for your Examiner site. Of course, I'd be most willing. I can imagine that email might have advantages but I don't mine talking on the phone, either. My email is nellieanna@nellieanna.com. My cell is 469-995-5382. Your choice.

Glad to see you back and active on HP.


Sasha'sOnHubShell profile image

Sasha'sOnHubShell 5 years ago from Florida

Oh, that's wonderful! I would love to speak with you via telephone. Sometimes I get discouraged by the way technology has seemed to slowly eliminate any personalized interaction, which can take so much away from what you hear in a statement... The way someone speaks about inspiration is equally important to the words they use, at least that is my belief.. (and I have a feeling my dear that you may share the same sentiments)

To say that you are impressed with my work is incredibly, well, beyond flattering to say the least. You are certainly a motivator for me and my writing. I'll be sending you an email privately, and I am looking forward to speaking with you and hearing the voice behind these creations of awe-inspired interpretations and beautiful creations.

I love HubPages, and if I could somehow add more hours to the day, I'd publish much more. As it stands, I have to leave HP on a bit of a back burner as I pursue other assignments with demanding deadlines, but I am certain that I have much more to add, many more hubs to publish in the future. Looking forward to speaking with you, thanks again for your continued encouragement.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS Author

I also think it would be fun to really "talk" - woman to woman. Sounds like fun!

I understand about the shortage of hours in a day - ever since I was a child, there were never enough hours. Though I enjoyed sleeping, I hated to spend all that time unconscious! And I've defied common sense in my life by sleeping really odd hours - or almost none. Now, though I am focusing on getting proper sleep - and doggone if it matters much, except maybe it helps my skin.

But I have learned to try to be happy with what gets done and not to bemoan what doesn't too much. Better to do some well than all of it haphazardly.

Take care of yourself and will enjoy our chatting via the phone!


Sasha'sOnHubShell profile image

Sasha'sOnHubShell 5 years ago from Florida

I am looking forward to it! I'll be able to pin down a day later this week. Thanks so much, can't wait for the 'woman to woman' chat! :)


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS Author

It will be great good fun! :-)


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

All so very true. Enjoyed reading your nice hub. I like the pictures of Ozzie & Harriet and all the pictures you used. I came from a happy family I would say but my parents really never knew us. Our mother is 90 and she still doesn't know me after all these years. Voted uP!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you for visiting and sharing that!

I don't know why I posted the second hub in this series for my interview's hub referral. The first one titled Magnolia - Prologue sets it up much better, then it continues through this & several more following this one, even though it doesn't attempt to resolve it all. It simply concludes what it started, at a pleasant stopping place. I always intended to continue but then it didn't seem necessary. It's been generally accepted as just a pleasant story. But it is more.

Moonlake, - I also came from a happy family; one with reservations. My parents were born in 1890 and 1892 and were 40 and 42 when I was born, already having 3 older, nearly grown children. I was loved but never really known, especially by my older siblings. It's such a visceral awareness when one is not known or fully recognized.

I was also virtually alone a lot. I was a "Great Depression" baby. If they were still alive, my parents would be 120 and 122.

Of course the characters in this story are not based on my own natal family but are from my late husband's, who would be 90 if he were alive, the age of your mother. It focused on perspectives & expectations of that age group as they were before the war and as the war effected them and indirectly, their children born during or soon after the war. My perspective during those years was somewhat objective. I wasn't in or of that generation but was right there to observe.

I'm very close to his sons, especially his youngest son (now in his 60s) and came to understand him better after his Dad's death. There are inconsistencies between my knowing his Dad and his experience of him as a kid. That put me to thinking and some of his odyssey pieced itself together. It occurred to me that the circumstances surrounding WWII & his Baby Boomer generation contain clues to what happened to him as a youngster and has haunted him all his life.

I started this series to try to show significant, almost historic, but subtle connections I visualized. I suspect it may relate somewhat to all that generation. I detect it in the families of my elder siblings. What was insidious is that the world was transformed by that war so vastly and without precedent that its effects were buried in the transformation itself.

I just seemed to get a flash view from recalling my relatively objective view of it during it, but being too young to feel its effects while it was in progress or to bear children into it, but old enough to observe enough to contemplate and sort through later. That was what this series attempted to capture.

I'd guess you might be a member of the Boomer generation, too.


Vickiw 3 years ago

Well, Nellieanna, now we see what they mean by "evergreen" hubs, because that is what you have written here! Gosh we do think on the same page! I so enjoyed this, also the fact that it gives more depth to the discussion we have been having on my latest hub. So glad you turned me towards it. I think one of the most profound changes we see now is that children and their parents expect many more material possessions, and are never satisfied. Children accept as a matter of course that parents will provide for them sometimes all their lives, and this makes for a huge reliance on the parents, who do not seem to believe their children are capable of decision making on their own. Great writing here, friend Nellieanna! I will find the others soon, but not tonight!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Oh, thank you, Vicki! We do seem to think very similarly about many things!

I didn't want to post a link in your comment thread, but the actual introduction to the Magnolia series, containing explanation of how and why this story helps understand the changes the war brought about, is in the hub, "Magnolia - Prologue", which is linked above at the end of this one, along with the link to the next chapter. I must warn you, there are 4 chapters, in addition to the Prologue, and I'd intended to write more when I got into the actual story of the magnolia tree, which is still in my front yard, planted there some 54 years ago! The story is sweet about its planting, but the thrust of the idea is about the effects of the war on the family and tens of thousands of other families started right after that war which so changed our nation's values and reset our course.

So if you find time to read any of this further, you might want to read the Prologue next, although the particular human story is in the continuing chapters. Each one is linked to the preceding and following one, but I didn't build a Table of Contents of all. I just didn't expect there to be an 'all'! I seldom write such lengthy prose, but was extremely inspired to write this.

When I began it, I simply had worked out a theory to satisfy my own need for explanation of what had changed & why it so dramatically affected people folowing the war, especially because the report I was getting from people of that after-time didn't fit the character of the mutual beloved person of the prior-time whom I'd known for many years to be quite different from that report. When I compared the situation I was hearing with instances I'd witnessed from the sideline with my own older siblings of about the same age as my George and with effects on their families about the same ages also born following the war, I began to see the 'before and after' aspects of the war and its effects on 'before and after' people & values.

In each of the cases I personally know, the 'before' people resumed most of their real character after years passed, but the effects of it on the 'after' people born under their parentage immediately after the war didn't alter, since they had no previous basis on which to draw. Some suffered serious emotional effects, of which I'd become aware and which prompted my thought about it.

I didn't dream it would evolve into this story, based on an actual story in my beloved George's family, with some poetic license, since I wasn't there when it unfolded.

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