50’s traveler

 

 

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Traveling During The 50’s

 

            After WWII, America began a transition from the Poverty Flats of the 30’s to one of prosperity.    The retuning soldiers had combat pay, factories were no longer in war mode and rations were lifted.  A new chapter was unfolding; Travel was no longer restricted to the rich or the tramps.  Now middle class America had surplus money. 

            To indulge in country wide tours was now within the grasp of most everyone.  The bus was not restricted to rails like the trains were.  By bus one could travel the country a a leisurely pace and be driven to the front door of the lodging.  Bus companies like Greyhound, offered personalized tours of America’s natural wonders and its unique features. 

            It was a new experience for the folks that had survived the depression of the 30’s.  Like the rich, Joe Citizen could travel to and experience America’s playgrounds.  During the 50’s, bus travel was accommodating and semi-luxurious.  A freedom that few had only dreamed of, was now a reality.

 

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            Adventure off to exotic places, such as New Mexico and see the pre=historic villages of the Indians.  Maybe visit the sight of the big bomb or soak in the culture of the artists.  New vistas were now available to the average person. 

 

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Gold Dome

 

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Colorado State Capitol

With the teacher rally/protest/strike and or protests at the Capitol building in Denver, thought a small odd ball tid bit would be of some interest to a few. 

Located on a ridge overlooking, Colorado’s capitol has a panoramic view of the Front Range.  Until the trees grew up, the building also dominated the Denver skyline.  Today the Capitol no longer dominates like it once did.  The trees are much taller and the nearby buildings are also more dominant on the skyline. 

The area around the capitol building, acquired the name Capitol Hill.  The complexion the neighborhood has changed over the years.  It has went from and elite area, to run down and back again.  All walks of life could be found in the area, the variety was endless.  The vibrancies of the neighborhood were in constant flux.

Bums and tramps like the area around the capitol building, because it was good panhandling and places to catch 40 winks.  The security people that patrolled the grounds got to know most of the tramps and for the most part left them be.  Tourists’ were in and out of the building and wandered around the grounds taking pics and gazing at the golden dome. 

Tramps would wander among them panhandling or offering stories about the area, anything for a handout.  Mix in the occasional protestor(s) and there would be moments on the Capitol grounds. 

It had been an early spring shower and the patrolman was walking the Capitol grounds.  There at the corner of the building a tramp was bent over picking things up from the ground.  Seeing nothing ominous, the patrolman just walked on by and they exchanged pleasantries.  A few days later any rain rolled over the capitol.  Again the guard was patrolling the building and there was the tramp.  All huddled up and bent over the ground picking things up.  The two nodded to each other and went about their business. 

It had been a heavy rain and the tramp was on the grounds again all bent over picking through the dirt.  This time the guard stopped and watched what the tramp was doing.  There at the end of the drain spout, the tramp was hunched over.  With tweezers, he was picking out small flakes of gold.  The tramp then moved on to the next drain and started again, picking out flakes of gold.

When the tramp had finished going around the Capitol building and picking out the gold flakes.  He would head out for the Pawn Shop where he could sell his gold flakes.  The patrolman watched the process and sure enough, the nest rain storm.  Here came the tramp after the rain had quit.  Down on his knees at the first drain spout he was picking up gold flakes.  After the rain, small flakes of gold would detach from the gold dome on the state capitol. 

The tram had created his own little industry of cleaning up the capitol grounds and making a nice profit for a bottle of wine.  Soon it was the grounds maintenance people that were out there cleaning out the drainage and had things covered over.  The tramp had lost his source of income. 

Federal DOJ

 

 

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US Justice Department

 

            With all the turmoil and politics in today’s Justice Department, I found this article interesting.  Life magazine in 1954 wrote a story about the US Attorney General.  He was listed as leading the world’s largest law firm.  This was during the Eisenhower Administration. 

            In the first paragraph, Life Mag. Noted that Brownwell was cleaning up the department.  Sound familiar, in today’s political climate.  More then 50 years ago, there were problems in the DOJ.  It also points out how easy it is for government agencies to wander outside the lines.  It is nothing new, bureaucrats operating outside of government guidelines has been a story more then a couple of centuries old. 

            Yet here is a story in a national magazine about the DOJ head trying to clean up his department.

            The DOJ wields lots of influence and power, considering they are the federal police agency.  Not only is the FBI under the DOJ, so are all the Federal US Attorney’s and their offices, Federal Prisons and today that includes Homeland Security, plus all the other agencies.  The US Attorney General also provides recommendations to the President for Judgeships to be filled.  One can see that their influence is far reaching.

            In 1950’s, the DOJ had around 33,000 employees.  Today it is about three times that many, with over 117, 0000 employees. 

            It is amazing how history rolls in circles as it repeats itself.  Different chapters, same names, just a; larger cast. 

After WWII

 

 

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The Equalizer

 

            At the end of the war, the soldiers returned home.  Many with large sums of money from combat pay.  The automobile brought them the freedom of the road and a way to travel home.  With an auto, the world had become the GI’s oyster. 

 

The soldiers returned home, married their sweetheart, bought a home and began the American dream.  The car allowed him to live a distance from his job and no longer have to walk or catch the trolley.  The auto was a freeing mode of transportation that opened many doors that had only been open to the rich. 

 

Now the family could take vacations, live in the country, drive to the shore or just have a Sunday picnic at the park.  The automobile had become more then a status symbol, it had become an icon of freedom.  The glorious freedom of defeating the enemy was found in many ways back home.  The car gave the average person a way to expand their boundaries.  Not be restricted to where public transportation took them.  Hop in the car and be down the road a hundred miles in a couple of hours. 

 

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With all the cars on the road, the giant auto industry grew beyond the dreams of many.  Splashy car ads were all over.  Aftermarket auto parts became a big business.  Cars of the 50’s were pretty easy to work on, and the backyard mechanic showed up.  . 

 

The weekend was a time to tinker with the new fangled horseless carriage.  No longer was there the crank, cars now had starters.  Radios were standard and the radio DJ’s were becoming a new phenomena.  There was an era on the horizon that many like to relive today. 

 

In the back of the barn, under years of dust, sits the WWII veterans’ first car.  It is now surrounded by other cars that he has bought and stored with his very first car.  It is a memory that has become indelible.  A moment that has been etched on the fabric of society. 

 

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Cigarettes and C-Rations

The Smokers

 

            With the ending of WWII, the returning soldiers brought lots of the habits home with them from the war.  One of them was the cigarette, a new icon for masculinity.  Have the cigarette draped on the edge of the lips hanging out the side of the mouth, was the new cool.  The roaring Twenties and the Speakeasy, was probably the first chapter in smoking to be acceptable across the general population.  Until then it had been the stodgy backrooms and boardrooms of cigars and pipes.  Then there was the cowboy with his funny rolled weed pile that smoked away. 

 

            During WWII rations were the common meal for those on the frontlines.  The ration pack, generally included a chocolate bar and a small pack of cigarettes.  When the young man from back home had his first ration meal, he was confronted with a pack of cigarettes.  Most had never smoked before and were not sure.  They were surrounded by the city boys who had been smoking for years and would trade for the cigarettes.  These puffers of smoke looked cool, so the youngsters from the country sampled the tobacco.  It was a new experience that grew on many of the youngsters.   Soon, to smoke became a status symbol of acceptance into the group. 

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            Besides having cigarettes, one had to have a lighter and the Zippo became the hallmark of smokers.  There were other lighters, many that looked like the Zippo but none were equal of the Zippo.  Unlike today of the disposable lighter, lighters back then could be refilled.  Refueling the lighter became a ritual and different techniques were sworn on by the different people. 

 

            A few tried using gas from the jeep and it worked until it exploded or burned as hole in their leg.  So the little cans of lighter fluid and flints, became as prominent icon as the lighter did.  In the duffle bag, beside the cigarettes, was the can of lighter fluid and the flints. 

 

            Sitting on the front lines after the C-Rations were consumed, one could see the waffs of smoke curing up from the after meal cigarette.  Through war, the cigarette had found its way into American Society.  To smoke brought acceptance of the group.  War movies back then, showed the dying soldiers last request, was to have one more cigarette.  GI’s were shown with cigarettes hanging from their mouths as they fired at the enemy. 

 

            Today that image is being revisited by Hollywood on how they portray their heroes and cigarettes. 

 

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Time Machine

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Timepieces

            To control time, has been the source of many science fiction stories.  Travel in time, stop time, warp time, it is something many have wanted to do.  Yet the closet to time control has been the clock, watch, hour glass or some other device.  Years ago the pocket watch with its fob was a symbol of distinction.  The retirement watch, a reward for a job complemented.  The year clock for a wedding gift. 

            All are types of time control.  Yet they are futile gestures, for time has its own pace and is influenced by nothing. 

            Time is used to mark events in history, personal or a world class time event.  What year did war happen, when was the plague, what is the date of birth, or what year was the marriage.  Events happen and they are marked as a passage in time.  So that little clock on the wall gives of seconds, minutes and hours.  Then it shifts to the calendar to give us days, weeks, months and years.  Time is always masked in some fashion. 

            That buzzer on the night stand reminds up to get up, it tells us when to leave for an appointment or when somebody is arriving.  There are reminders of anniversaries, celebrations.  The list is endless on how we roll with time and the ways we try to control the machine of time.

            Before the clock, our lives were measured by the sun and the moon.  Traveling was done by the locations of the stars.  Time has been a constant yet it has never really fit into our concepts of time.  We have a leap year to get back on time.  The control of time is not us, but our reaction to it. 

            Doggedly the sun rises, it sets, the moon rises and the sun returns in the morning.  Always there to remind us the ole sol passes overhead. 

            We try to save time by calling it daylight savings.  What time has been saved.  The sun shall rise at its appointed time not when we say it is savings time. 

            Sometimes we are so funny as we put labels on things and expect others to believe in those labels.

            Then there is one most all people enjoy, that Happy Hour when it is beer thirty time. 

That is a how a lot of people dealt with the cold war. 

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Russian Famine

 

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Communist Famine

 

            Recently read a blog about the famine that struck Russia in 1918m during the communist revolution.   This made me pause and reflect back on other stories I read about, during that time period nod before.  1918 was the year of the Spanish Flu pandemic.  It was also the end of WWI.  For the beginning of this story one must go back to 1850’s. 

            In 1850, Russia was ruled by a monarchy, Katherine was the ruler at this time.  There were vast lands in Russia that were very arable.  Katherine’s envoys went to Germany and offered free land to German farmers if they would settle in this land and farm it.  The Germans agreed to the conditions, they would not be a part of Russian rule nor could they be conscripted into the military.  On these conditions the Germans emigrated to Russia and began farming.  The Germans became prosperous and had a great market for their products in Russia. 

            During the 1889’s the Czar’s came to power and deposed Queen Katherine.  With the queen gone, the agreement with the Germans was ignored by the Czar’s.  They began taxing them and conscripting their men as soldiers.  No longer was there protection, the Germans began fleeing their lands and returning to their homes in Germany and many continued on to the Americas.  The first great emigration from Russia had begun..

            As these Germans began arriving in the New World, they continued their faming in new lands, North America into South America.  In the United States, many little communities grew up around these new Russian/German settlers. 

            In Russia, the iron fists of the Czars were met with resistance by the Bolshevik’s.  A revolutionary group, which was intent on overthrowing the Czars.  Lenin and his communist minions joined the Bolsheviks’ and the communist revolution was underway. 

            During this upheaval in Russia, late 1800’s, early 1900’s, many young men were taken into the military to fight.  The Germans for the most part had quit farming in Russia, then the closing of the young men, even took more farmers off the land.  With farmers becoming scarce, foods became short supply.  The revolution had killed so many, that finding people to work had become rare. 

            During this time period, WWI was destroying farmland in Europe and the farmers were at war.  So food supplies for Russia in Europe had dried up.  Food in Europe was a rare commodity. 

            Demand for food was growing.  The price of wheat in the US was going skyrocket prices.  Suddenly farmers were making money like bankers.  With the high price of wheat, more ground was broken for farming and large mortgages were taken on the land for more equipment. 

            Lenin reached out to the US for help and met with some resistance, yet the DC politicians relented.  Using a caveat of condemnations of the communist Lenin and his practices, relief food supplies were sent to Russia. This pushed the price of wheat even higher.  By 1920, farming had begun again in Europe and Russia settled down.  Yet during the famine in Russia, millions of people died. 

            The politics of war, revolution and controlling dictatorships’, had left a giant scar on the land.    Farming that had been noble, suddenly was poverty flats.  The price of wheat in the United States, had hit barrel bottom.  No longer was there a market for wheat.  Piles of overproduced wheat and other crops were stacking up on the land and going to rot.  Many farmers were forced into bankruptcy and lost their farms. 

            The Germans that had fled Russia in the 1880’s were bitten by the Russians again, a few decades later. 

            It is amazing how interconnected, non related events can be. 

 

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