The Good Ol’ Days, by Will Saunders
People sometimes speak of the good old days, referring to a point in time that was supposedly better than what we see in the present day. It’s debatable when that time actually was; however, it often was generally between the years 1928 and 1950. The Good Ol’ Days is often thought of as the period just prior to the Great Depression and up through FDR’s New Deal. I think of the opening theme song of the TV show All In the Family titled, ”Those Were The Days” – which, referred to a time in history about 40 years before the show first aired and in my mind were NOT all that good.
You don’t have to go that far back to see a time when jobs were not all that plentiful – a time in which anybody who was part of any minority group, including but not limited to women and blacks, had a lack of equity in society and in the workplace – much more so than we see today. But people – then and now – call it the good old days.
Yes, there might have been some paltry aspects of that period that could be considered fabulous. But I do not think overall it was all that great. There were more than 15.5 million people who were unemployed, compared with around 8.2 million who are unemployed today, per data from the Bureau of Labor Statics, Current Population Survey. The aftermath of the Great Depression was catastrophic, a condition that had been brewing for a long time and the aftermath lingered for many years afterward.
Then the Great Plains states, which includes states such as Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, and some others experienced the worst drought in American history. As if that weren’t bad enough, these Great Plains states also endured a number of severe wind storms as well as what scientists called “black blizzards” that carried away the dirt and soil, eliminating any possibility for farmers to cultivate their crop. They were called black blizzards, unlike traditional blizzards which are white from the blinding snow storm/white out conditions, because they were formed from dried dirt and sand that blew heavily from winds at a velocity of 30 mph or greater. Because the soil was dried and because there was little to no precipitation for a duration of many weeks, food wasn’t very plentiful.
Besides all of these conditions, the treatment of women and minorities during this time was unspeakable. The Women’s March – January 21, 2017, highlighted awareness and sought more fairness and greater degrees of pay parity between men and women in the workplace. But travel back in time 80 plus years to see a much bigger rift between of men’s and women’s wages. Between 1936 and 1937, there was widespread activism to attempt to elicit more empathy and create a greater degree of fairness. As unfair as things still are now for women, the unfairness was far more egregious back in the day.
I’m not even going to devote much time talking about the treatment of the black community back in those days or Jews or persons with disabilities or many other disenfranchised groups. The Civil Rights Act, which wasn’t codified until 1964, provided legal remedy for discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Prior to this, there were many overt examples of discriminatory acts.
So, help me understand why those days are called the Good Ol’ Days. From my vantage point, despite the many challenges and troubles we may see, times sure are better now, in my humble opinion. These are the Good Ol’ Days. The Good Ol’ Days are right now.