Strange New World
It was a Roddenberry book that was made into a movie. A hibernating space crew returns to an Earth unlike the one they left.
I sometimes feel I was on that crew.
My parents generation went through The Great Depression. While the New Deal did much, it was at a macro level — big projects to try to resolve conditions. Local problem were huge but resolved at a local level. Compared with those times, we supposedly have it made. Yet, on that macro level government acts on, it isn’t nearly a complete solution.
I didn’t live through what my parents and grandparents saw. I recall only snippets of the war years. By the time I became a young man, things were doing great — at least by the standards of the day. Whatever “safety nets” were in place were fragile. How did people get by without the things we are entitled to today?
I remember being about 14. On the weekends I had to work in my Dad’s store while my friends ran around on the lake in their boats. I got $.50 and hour and it was enough to run my boat the rest of the week. I could fill the tank (6 gal) for just under $2. But this is an aside.
We’d always stop first at my Grandfathers grocery. I’d see him and two of my great uncles. One lived in the backroom on a broken mattress. He was a lush. The other had a nice home and was also a butcher. My Grandmother was the checker. Comfortable lives but nothing special. They were respected business people but not Mr. Obama’s 1%.
Anyway, that day there was coffee as usual at an old pot sitting on an old set of drawers in the back room. A drawer opened and there was a beat up cigar box that opened somehow or other. It was full of wedding rings. Not the ones you see in ads from today’s TV ads. These were tiny chips of diamond on a thin gold ring. The box must have had a hundred or so.
I couldn’t figure it out as a 14-year-old. What was this all about? I asked why such riches were sitting in that greasy drawer. The family laughed. They were worth next to nothing. (Sill the day of $35/oz gold) How did they get them? They took them for groceries. Why did they do that if they were worth nothing? The people were hungry and didn’t have money. It was a way to leave them with some dignity and avoid making it look like charity.
My family wasn’t magnanimous. They got by better than most but weren’t rolling in it. People then saw other people as people. “There but for the grace of God.”, was an oft used phrase. So, people walked out of that store with a sack of groceries and their heads still high. I found out a lot of those people were still my Gramps’ customers — where they now had good jobs and a choice of where to shop. I imagine he ended up making a nice profit on those old rings in his own way. We even had a store picnic at the summer home of one of those folks.
Gramps was the ladies man though. Every women was greeted with hello or how are you … My Dear. They ate it up. Of course Gram was usually at the register curtailing any outright success possibilities.
This story isn’t like things today. We’ve had our lives institutionalized. We look without instead of within. This is truly a Strange New World.
P.S. I’d sure like to have that pile of rings today — what with the price of gold. But, I wouldn’t mind having those old baseball cards, either — that also got thrown out.
P.P.S. Happy Josie? OK, a bit more.
My Grandfather was a French bantam cock. My German grandmother towered over him. Thanks to her, my Dad was over 6′ and I beat that by a fair amount. Gramps – at probably 140# — could lift a whole side of beef out of the cooler and hang it from a hook to break. Like I said he was a cocky dude. He always dressed well and even behind the meat counter with sawdust and trimming on the floor wore fancy shoes. Believe it or not, he was very proud of his feet. At lunch he’d often go across the street to another Uncle’s tavern for some time with the boys. He’d take off the butcher’s smock and into a snappy suit coat.
When I was a sickly kid and my grandparents took me to Arizona to survive the winter. Gramps head for Las Vegas with my Grandmother left behind steaming. But, they were quite a couple through all the years. They seemed to enjoy every day of their lives.