Sunday, October 10, 2021

History Inside Out

Peggy was born shortly after W.W. I had ended. When her world crashed leaving her an orphan in Oct. 1929, so too did the stock market crash a week later. Lost in a Lost Generation yet, somehow, she found herself. She grew up in reduced circumstances as breadlines were the headlines but also with the imaginative power of radio and talkie movies to leaven the years along with early love from her mother.

I’m told I entered this world on the first day of spring, 1933. I wouldn’t know. As I recall I was otherwise occupied that day. My brother lost his status as an only child and I never got around to apologize for having been born. Ten days before, FDR took his oath of office and a month before that Hitler, unapologetically, took over as chancellor of Germany. Lots of breaking news that season. I slipped by largely unnoticed.

It occurs to me that possibly all of us tend to find corollaries from our personal lives with the larger history of the times. The blackouts and war bonds in the earlier years of the forties rewarded me with big bands and big screens. As a teenager I distinctly remember the sense of the post war boom paralleling my own coming of age as if my growing up had been projected into the larger chronicle.

For baby boomers, the conformity of the fifties was overthrown by Beat poetry, Women’s Lib., anti-war protests in a haze of hemp and racial awakening. The cauldron of the sixties might be regarded as an extension of inner ferment; a bar mitzvah of the soul.                                                     

For those born in the mid-seventies it must also feel like the start of something new. The Vietnam misadventure was over and it was no longer necessary to burn your draft card or learn Canadian as a second language. My Buck Rogers of comic books was now a ho-hum reality.

Anyone who entered this world during Reagan’s morning in American must have grown up relegating the Cold War to the distant past and seen the new-fangled computer as the dawn of civilization. Into that darkness before the dawn much of history had been discarded. A generation grew up thinking Joan of Arc married Noah and Julius Caesar invented the salad. Somehow those voices of protest got absorbed or commodified into the mainstream mush.

One wonders what effect Trump has had on young minds. Have we been bequeathed a narcissistic sociopath as a model? I wonder if kindergarten kids are now running with scissors and knocking over blocks while others have embezzled milk money and tried to overthrow the election of class president. One Trump is more than enough; a nation of little Trumpettes is reason to check out of this orb.

As I confront mortality it sometimes feels like the curtain is going down on democracy itself at least on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For the rest of the week, I wonder if our planet will survive as a human habitat. But then again, I hear Peggy’s voice warning against the rehearsal of bad news. Better to just let me hear that trumpet. The morning glories have survived my thumb. Two orchids are wagging their tongues. John Coltrane is saying everything he knows in his sax. And the Dodgers won last night.

On the macro plane, channeling Peggy, it may be that Trump is serving a purpose by revealing naked capitalism in all its greed and indifference to human suffering and our ecosystem. Out of this revelation a new society may be born.




  1. Sadly I recall the news that some generation Xers thought Joann of Arc married Noah. I wonder how many Gen Nexers even know her name?

  2. I’m a fan of Peggy’s thinking … seeing Trump as the potential catalyst for the U.S. to build a more
    humane and inclusive society … where all people have an equal opportunity to fulfill their dreams.