When World War II ended, in August 1945, I was six years old – in just a few weeks I was to start 2nd grade. Ahead for me were 15 years of being a student: six more years of Elementary School, five years of Junior-Senior High School, and four years in University.
During these same 15 years, from 1945 to 1960, the United States experienced a sustained period of economic prosperity – while war torn Europe and Asia labored to restore their devastated infrastructures and rebuild their economies. I recall a teacher bragging that, with the possible exception of bananas and coffee beans, the United States was absolutely self-sufficient. Wow! That sure changed rather quickly!
I remember that sociologists were concerned about American youth – my generation. They claimed that we had no passion – that we had no social conscience – that we were interested only in material things – that all we wanted was to get a good job; make lots of money; marry and move to a house in the suburbs with a two-car garage, and have 2 and a half children.
I suppose there was some truth to that. We were definitely a conservative lot – socially as opposed to political. We were as scandalized by teenaged pregnancy just as much as our parents. Being ‘cool’ was being clean and well groomed. Boys wore short hair and eschewed facial hair; wore long pants and shoes. Shorts were for little children. Sneakers were for the gym and the playground. Girls wore dresses or skirts and a blouse. Wearing slacks to school would earn a trip home to dress properly. It was unladylike to sweat! And, most of all, we respected authority.
Well – – the sociologists’ concerns were a classic case of “Be careful what you wish for….”
The 1960’s brought in a new generation who DID have passions, and who DID have a social conscience! And the World has not been the same since!
The sexual revolution – drugs – civil rights – anti-war – burning bras and draft cards – riots – sit-ins, long hair and grunge – -plus an almost complete breakdown of civility.