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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Temps Perdu: 1948

The New Yorker, October 9, 1948
Click to enlarge.

This might become a new feature here on the Blue Truck:  a picture or two, perhaps with an audio/visual clip, from a bygone era.

The truth is, guys, your Head Trucker just doesn't want to write about the modern world much these days.  I'm aware of the major news stories, and I more or less keep up with the coverage of politics and especially LGBT issues highlighted by the blogs I list in the righthand sidebar for your convenience.

Yet even though the progress towards full equality continues apace, by halting steps - and here I might add, the general progress of the world, too - still, in this day and time, there is a certain nauseating sourness mixed into the stream of life, a hatefulness and nastiness that I'm sick of reading about and thinking about.

And it is wreaked not merely by the well-known bad guys who may be leaping immediately to your mind:  it's endemic in the modern world, a coarseness and harshness that pervades all levels of society; something none of us can help being tainted with, to some degree or other, just by being alive at this period. 

Of course, there has never been a Golden Age upon the earth, exempt from ignorance, folly, selfishness, self-righteousness, cruelty, and outright brutality.  But perhaps we are more aware of it all now, if we are paying attention, than ever before because of the widespread ease of communication - perhaps too easy in some ways - of this much-vaunted Information Age.

Then too, when you reach a certain age, as your Head Trucker has, long observation as well as painful disappointment have opened your eyes to what human nature is, and how the world really operates.  Even the nice people - beloved by friends and family alike, pillars of the community or just good neighbors - even the nicest people are, at bottom, and more often than not, actuated by self-interest rather than genuine love:  and thus even the very nicest people are capable of quiet cruelties and callous ruthlessness.

I could say more on this topic - a lot more - but to dwell upon a fact of life so large and so irremediable is deeply distressing, more than I can tell you.  And my voice is so small and weak, that of a lone sparrow in an immense forest, that it would serve no purpose to explain further.  Never complain, never explain, is a very good rule; when I was young, it made no sense to me, but now I understand completely.

Instead, I propose to blog more on pleasant things, and less on hateful ones.  Of course, sometimes one can hardly help speaking out on a subject one feels strongly about; but even if the dike is crumbling and the waters will drown us all one day, one might as well spend the meantime cheerfully.  I'm an old man, or nearly so, and I'm just tired, very tired, of raging against the storm.  Which does no good as far as I can see.

But here, just for the sake of beauty and good cheer - and what can we offer one another, if not that? - are a few random things of interest I came across today, from the year when Harry Truman was making his whistlestop campaign tour, the Berlin Airlift was in full swing, and television was still a novelty, unseen by 9 out of 10 Americans.  Perhaps one or more of the following will raise a smile on your face.

Programming schedule from TV station KTLA, Los Angeles, 1948.
Notice that it operated only a few hours a day.

Motorola advertises the 1948 version of home theater in this ad.
But those early TV screens ranged from only about 5 to 10 inches diagonally.

India was only a couple of days away via a beautiful Constellation,
and Ireland just 13 hours from New York - imagine!

A good hat always adds to a man's studliness, a fact that our
hatless modern age has forgotten.  Pity.

That year, running boards were out, and automatic transmissions were in:

And believe it or not, here's Ronald Reagan lambasting outrageous corporate profits and lying Republicans - before he went over to the dark side, obviously.

And I saved the best for last, if you're still with me this far. From Canada, the CBC radio women's editor Kate Aitken gives a short chat on homely things like a scrumptious-sounding sour cream chicken recipe. Nothing earthshaking here, and I can't embed it; but do go listen to this lovely voice from home in a more civilized time:


Frank said...

Russ, I just left a comment using Leon's computer and I don't know if it went through because I wasn't signed in...

Anyhow, I've often shared those same feelings about contemporary life and I sometimes think about how we are all products of our culture, upbringing, and particular character and vying for some greater or lesser influence over our world.

For some reason your post sent me to read Ecclesiastes..

In 1948 I was sucking milk out of a bottle and was probably already colicky.

Russ Manley said...

Ecclesiastes is a good reference here, wish I'd thought of that. It was surely written by someone about our age, don't you think?

And of course, human nature and the lessons of life, when seen clearly, are the same then as now.

Grandmère Mimi said...

The truth is, guys, your Head Trucker just doesn't want to write about the modern world much these days.

Russ, I know the feeling. I'm weary of both secular and church politics. Do whatcha gotta do, brother.

Beartoast said...

I know the feeling, sometimes we just can't abide it. But then, we can't really ignore it, either. Balance. A challenge for us all.
Blessings, mr. head trucker, on us all in this new year.

Russ Manley said...

And blessings to you and Mimi too, good buddy.

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