Tag Archive: great depression

Sweet Ringing of Hope

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

There is something a little sweeter in my neighborhood. The Presbyterian Church has a new bell tower.

For the last few years the belfrey was dismantled. It was kinda of sad to look at the church, wondering if the needed repairs to the original structure were ever going to be restored. I think I even said something to my husband about that.

A few weeks ago, Carol O’Connell shared on facebook the building of the new belfrey. Then I heard about a special dedication event for the bell. This past weekend as I searched the parkway for my dog’s choke chain collar (don’t ask), I heard the bell ringing and cheers from the crowd going up.

It was good to hear that ringing and not to hear any creaking as anything broke. (My head always goes to worse case scenarios so when everything works out it is like a double blessing.) To hear that ringing signals something more than a bell back where it belongs; it signals a rebirth of an organization that has struggled.

We all have that at some point in our lives. Situations get out of hand and we wonder if we can ever come back. Sometimes we fails and sometimes we make it in baby steps the whole way.

It makes me think about movies about the Great Depression when people wondered if it would ever get better.

cinderella-manI remembered watching Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe as a boxer who has lost his beautiful home and taxi company during the Great Depression. He and his wife and three children live in a basement apartment as he works as a day laborer while she takes in sewing and ironing. Life is bleak until a chance fight shows he might still have what it takes. That is when his former manager arranges a bigger fight.

Oh, this movie is filled with sports cliches that we love. But Crowe, Renee Zellweger, and Paul Giamatti give gritty and classy performances of people on the edge who find their way back in the middles of the 1930s when nothing felt as it was going to come back.

That movie may be too adult in context for the younger children in the house. That’s when you pull out Kit Kittredge. Based on the American Girl Doll character of the same name, this girl has spunk.

kit_kittredgeSet during the Depression, ten-year-old Kit learns that while her family has been wealthy, or at least well off, they are slowly losing everything. Her father’s business has gone under, her older brother has not returned to college. Her mother is considering raising chickens.

Kit is overly emotional as ten-year-olds can be, especially when Dad leaves for a different city to find work. She learns to accept the chickens and sells eggs, she deals with their house being overrun with boarders, and brims with the hope that her father will come back soon.

Both movies are filled with grit and determination of characters who know life will get better, even if they don’t know how that will happen or what it looks like. Sometimes when we take on great projects, we don’t know what the outcome will be. But why let something as trivial as that stop us.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Making the Generational Grade

Lately, I have had a strange thought rumbling through my head.

I am constantly hearing about the “Greatest Generation” and how they did it so much better than this current generation. (BTW, thanks Tom Brokaw for coming up with this term).

picture bu J Durham

They came of age during the GREAT DEPRESSION in which people really did without. And then the men of this generation went off to World War II, THE BIG ONE. When they came back, it was off to create a economic state and society like we had not seen in a long time.

As I have talked to people older than myself and wondered what was it about that generation, it hit me. Hit me like a red balloon to the face.

When the GREATEST GENERATION sought to achieve it was for no other reason than they knew what hunger was and failure was not an option. I mean the type of hunger that does not go away with a quick snickers bar because you couldn’t afford a snickers. Survival was tough and nasty. So you did what you had to do.

Women above a certain class couldn’t work in the 1930s because it was unseemly. If you worked outside of the home, things were bad and you were the hired help. That is until the men went to war and the factories needed people to staff it.

So you found ways to survive. Grow extra food, do mending and ironing for people. Young men joined the CCC. If you were a kid you might have had to quit school and get a job. Then came the war. The men went and factories were humming.

The greatest generation rose to the challenge with victory gardens, gas rationing and sugar rationing. Nylon hose came into being because silk was needed for parachutes. Once soldiers came back they had to deal with housing shortages.

They also had the GI Bill which gave them the opportunity to go to school. So they went and became smarter in order to figured out how to make things better and smarter. The fifties were an alleged halcion age.

There are social issues that are pushed under the rug because who wants to deal with that when what this group of people survivied was incredible.

It makes me wonder what is wrong with the slackers of today – my generation and the ones that have come after. Do we not create anything, make the world a better place. Or do we just sit on our butts playing video games all day long.

Wait, didn’t the generations that grew up during  the 60s and after invent video games? Bill Gates, who is in his fifties, came up with the computer system that revolutionized the world. There have been star athletes, incredible movie stars, inventors, advertising geniuses from that point onward. The President of the United States, his wife and the chief Justice of the Supreme Court are in their late forties and early fifities.

What we do not have is a gravatizing event that has made us appear deeper and more aware. We have not had a major event that has lasted for years that has made a major impact on our lives or forced us to suffer as the GREATEST GENERATION has.

What about 911, you say, and the war in Iraq?  Let me ask this – what did you give up in return because of those events? Gas may be higher but we still have it whenever we want. Same with food and water. Our generation has not faced those same hardships in the same way.

But does that mean our generation is not valid? Does that mean we are all a bunch of layabouts? Or does it mean that we have not had to struggle because our parents never wanted us to struggle in the same way they had. They worked hard so we could have a better life and the same for our kids.

Which doesn’t mean we haven’t had our share of problems. More time on our hands have meant more self-reflection and looking at issues that were not right and were not fair. Our generation has also had to deal with the rise of Autism, Asthma, food allergies and new technologies that prolong life.

Image by ardelfin

My generation had to deal with the after affects of the summer of love, civil rights, assasignations of various leaders and the end of the cold war.  We called out addiction and abuse; we painted pictures of what was wrong in our world and tried to end it. Heck, we made people go outside to smoke their cigarettes.

My generation will not be known as the GREATEST GENERATION. We will not suffer years of economic depression and war effort or the rebuilding that took place afterwards. But don’t count us out because of it. We did learn a few things from that generation and those lessons are being put into use right now, although without the cool Glen Miller soundtrack.