Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Something to Ponder Upon

Between 1936 and 2012, something happened.  And you sit and ponder.

In 1936, if you were unemployed....you were willing to board the rooftop of a freight train or hop a ride on a truck through three states, to find a job of any type.

In 1936, if you were a guy looking for a better position in life, you were willing to  pack up a knapsack with a tarp, a blanket, an extra pair of socks, a spoon and fork, and maybe a change of pants and shirt.  That was enough to travel and survive for an entire year.

In 1936, if someone asked you if you knew any carpentry skills....you said yes.  If they asked if you could flip burgers.....you said yes.  If they asked if you had laid concrete or asphalt before....you said yes.  If they asked if you'd loaded a boat before....you said yes.  If they asked if you knew bricklaying....you said yes.  The honest truth?  You didn't know nothing.  But it didn't matter.

In 1936, if a guy offered you a job to load four trucks with sixty pound bags of corn, by yourself....you said fine, and spent the whole day loading those four trucks by yourself.

In 1936, when evening came.....if you were lucky....your boss had a beef stew made up with mostly potatoes instead of beef, then offered up six pieces of bread and a piece of peach pie.  You sipped off a cup of water, with no ice.  For a brief while, you were in hog heaven.

In 1936, your only news source on the road was likely a day-old or week-old newspaper that you picked up from another guy on the road.  You might have been around at a bus station or a train station....and got a half hour of some radio show, but that was the only other news source of the day.

In 1936, Mel Ott, Joe DiMaggio, and 'Ducky' Medwick were absolute legends, without a drop of steroids in themselves.  A guy on the road would follow the games in and out, and by October were in joy over finding a radio where they could listen to the Yanks beating the Giants. (Note: "Ducky" was a St Louis Cardinal through the depression era, and later moved on to other teams.  When "Ducky" got picked up to run through Italy toward the end of WW II for USO shows....someone arranged for him to show up in Rome and he met up with the Pope.  "Ducky" was a guy who'd occasionally say something worth remembering....was asked by the Pope what he did in life.  "Ducky" professed that he too....had once been a Cardinal....like the Pope.  I doubt if the Pope got the joke, but it was probably one of those things that a guy from 1936 would make up as a joke).  

In 1936, if you made any real money on the road....you'd wire the money back to your wife or send it in an envelop.  If you did have an extra quarter left....you might have gone over to watch a movie.

In 1936, you lived out under the trees, accepted 40-degree weather as good sleeping weather, and quietly cursed the rain as it dripped down through your tarp.

In 1936, you pretty much accepted the fact that tomorrow had to be a better day.  In the end....by December of 1942, you could give up the life on the road.....to travel to strange and exotic locations in the Pacific and Europe, in the interest of saving somebody....somewhere.  So you slept out in the trenches in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.  You landed on the sandy beaches on Iowa Jima.  You didn't ask questions when someone asked you land on the beaches of Normandy on the morning of the sixth of June.

Something happened between 1936 and 2012.  You just don't know what.  

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