Children of the 1930’S and Early 1940’S

   Written by on June 8, 2017 at 9:38 am

logo- community news & viewsBorn in the 1930’s and early 40’s, they are the “Last Ones.” They are the last, climbing out of the Depression who can remember the winds of war and the war itself with fathers and uncles going off. They are the last to remember ration books for everything from sugar to shoes to stoves.  They saved tin foil and poured fat into tin cans.  They saw cars up on blocks because tires weren’t available.  A friend’s mother delivered milk in a horse-drawn cart.

They were the last to hear Roosevelt’s radio assurances and to see gold stars in the front windows of their grieving neighbors.  They can also remember the parades on August 15, 1945:  VJ Day.

They saw the “boys” home from the war build their Cape Cod style houses, pouring the cellar, tarpapering it over and living there until they could afford the time and money to build it out.

They were the last who spent childhood without television, instead imagining what they heard on the radio.  As they all like to brag, with no TV we spent our childhood playing outside until the street lights came on in the city and the stars came out in the country.  They played outside and played on their own.  There was no Little League!

The lack of television in their early years meant, for most of them, that they had little real understanding of what the world was like.  Their Saturday afternoons, if at the movies, gave them newsreels of the war and the Holocaust sandwiched in between westerns and cartoons.  Newspapers and magazines were written for adults. They were the last who had to find out for themselves.

As they grew up, the country exploded with growth.  The G.I. Bill gave returning veterans the means to get an education and spurred colleges to grow. VA loans fanned a housing boom.  Pent-up demand coupled with new installment payments plans put factories to work.  New highways brought jobs and mobility.  The veterans joined civic clubs and became active in politics.  In the late 40’s and early 50’s the country seemed to lie in the embrace of brisk but quiet order as it gave birth to its new middle class.  Our parents understandably became absorbed with their own new lives.  They were free from the constraints of the Depression and the war.  They threw themselves into exploring opportunities they had never imagined.

Their children weren’t neglected but they weren’t today’s all-consuming family focus.  They were glad their children played by themselves because they were busy discovering the postwar world.

Our parents enjoyed a luxury.  They felt secure in their future.  They were the last to experience an interlude when there were no existential threats to our homeland.  The war was over and the cold war, terrorism, climate change, technological upheaval and perpetual economic insecurity had yet to haunt life with insistent unease.

Only they can remember both a time of apocalyptic war and a time when their world was secure and full of bright promise and plenty.  They experienced both. They grew up at the best possible time, a time when the world was getting better, not worse.  They are the “Last Ones.”

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