Eleven Things I Miss from When America Was Great
American Flag on Memorial Day
Making America Great Again
President-elect Donald Trump successfully appealed to primarily rural mid-America voters with his slogan "to make America great again." This slogan resonated with older voters and especially with people like me who were born in the 40s and 50s.
Having grown up in the 40s, 50s, and early 60s, I experienced living when America was truly great. Specifically, I pinpoint the years from 1953 through 1963. The United States had recently won World War II and it had also stopped North Korean aggression. With the exception of the beginning of a Cold War with the Soviet Union, there was peace again and returning combat veterans were prepared and eager to make America great
In this article, I recall eleven things that I miss from when America was great.
1. Pride in Being an American
From a very early age, my parents taught me to be proud to be an American. Schools reinforced this pride by having students recite the pledge of allegiance each morning and also stand and sing the national anthem. On Saturday mornings, my school in West Allis, Wisconsin, also gave students free tickets to see patriotic movies in a neighborhood movie theater.
2. Strong Nuclear Family and Stay at Home Moms
During the 50s and early 60s, I remember that there were very few one-parent families. The family was very strong and close. I grew up in a family with three younger sisters and one younger brother. While dad farmed and also worked a second outside job, mom was always at home helping on the farm and taking care of us. This was the same situation with our neighbors and all of the relatives. We all helped each other and very seldom would any member of the family get into any trouble.
3. Code of Chivalry for Boys and Men
At a very early age, I learned a code of chivalry which I practiced when with girls, women, and older people. This took the form of respecting the opposite sex and elders by opening doors, helping them get seated, carrying things, taking off, hanging up, and putting on coats, and walking closest to the street when with a female. It was definitely taboo to strike a member of the opposite sex or to use profane language and unwanted advances. In dealing with older people, I learned to be polite and as helpful as I could be.
4. Sexual Morality
In the 50s and early 60s, it was definitely taboo to get a young woman pregnant and then abandon her. Back then we had "shotgun weddings" in which men were pressured to take responsibility and marry the woman they impregnated.
Very little public pornography existed and topless and strip clubs were nonexistent. There were no X-rated bookstores and little or no profanity and sex was shown on TV and in the movies.
When I attending high school and college, women dressed modestly and lived in their own dormitory. If a co-ed was on a date, she had to be back to her dorm by 10:30 pm on Sunday through Thursday and by 12:45 on Friday and Saturday nights.
5. Importance of Moral Values in Society
When I was growing up, moral values were taught in the home and reinforced in schools. More love and compassion existed and mass shootings in society were unheard of. Young people respected their parents, law and authority, and elders. Kids learned the importance of honesty, hard work, and cooperation both at home and in schools.
6. No Political Correctness or Affirmative Action
In the 50s and early 60s, political correctness and affirmative action did not exist as they do today. We called an Ace an Ace and a Spade a Spade without sugar coating in fear of offending. Students could receive an "F" which meant failing and not an "E" or the statement "needs improvement." People who were admitted into medical school got in based on their ability and not due to gender or minority quotas.
7. Students Held Accountable in Schools
When I went to school, students were held accountable for their academic performance and behavior. Students who received more than one failing grade were held back and had to repeat a grade. The idea of social promotion did not exist. If a kid misbehaved in school, he or she received detention for misbehavior or breaking a rule. For extremely bad behavior, teachers paddled or boxed the ears of some students.
8. Positive Role Models
My first role models in the 50s were cowboys like The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry. I also looked up to Superman and professional baseball players like Eddie Matthews and Stan Musial. These were my role models because they set good examples by fighting for truth and justice.
9. Law and Order
During the 50s and early 60s, there were few if any violent political demonstrations or riots against the police. People were generally law-abiding and those who broke the law had to suffer the consequences of their actions.
10. Proliferation of Small Businesses
Large chain businesses like MacDonalds and Walmart were very few in the 50s. We had, instead, "mom and pop" grocery stores, department stores, and soda fountains in most towns and cities. These businesses were convenient to get to and service was very personable and helpful.
11. No Global Economy
In the 50s, the United States had a much more self-sufficient economy. Almost everything including steel, cars, clothing, shoes, and other goods were manufactured in the U.S. During the 1950s, much of the United States infrastructure in the form of roads and bridges was constructed with U.S. products. People were generally working and no one lost their job due to a factory being relocated outside of the States.
I miss the 50s and early 60s when the United States was great. I especially miss the public pride of being an American, moral values, and a strong nuclear family with the stay at home moms.
© 2016 Paul Richard Kuehn