Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Era (02/03/11)
TITLE: THE END OF AN AGE
By Sylvia Hensel
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It was Sunday and the family was on a trip to Canton, Ohio, to visit relatives. The car radio was playing some of the tunes of the day when the program was interrupted with the tragic news that would change our world forever. The date was December, 7, l941. We all remember it as the beginning of WWII, but I don’t think anyone at the time realized it was the ending of an age.
Immediately, men began enlisting in the Armed Forces, or were drafted to fight for the cause of freedom. Out of necessity, women were called into the work force, mostly in defense plants, or to replace jobs previously held by men.
Prior to this, married women were expected to stay home and care for their families. Men took great pride in providing for their families; and it was considered demeaning for a man’s wife to work outside the home.
It didn’t matter how small the paycheck, women were expected to stretch the money to cover everything needed to run the household smoothly. If the women could not do so, they were considered failures in their role as wives. Many an argument ensued if a wife hinted at wanting to get a job outside the home to help make ends meet. It seemed the only thing acceptable was to become a domestic.
Now that America was in war, as part of the war effort, the government rationed foods like sugar, butter, milk, cheese, eggs, coffee, meat and canned goods. The government turned to its citizens and encouraged them to plant “Victory Gardens.” It seemed everyone, the poor and the wealthy, participated in this endeavor. Women and children worked together, along with the few men left, to plant, harvest and can all that which they grew in their backyards, empty lots and even city rooftops. Co-ops were formed, all in the name of patriotism. Women found themselves able to do more than they ever thought possible and it was gratifying.
As the women joined the work force, they began to feel the sense of independence. Money was good, very good. America had just come out of the Great Depression where there were few jobs and little or no money. Women couldn’t work for the reasons already mentioned. Now it had become not only a necessity to work outside the home, but it was considered patriotic.
In August of 1945, the war ended and the men came home. Some women were anxious to return to their former job as homemakers, but not all. There was a great upheaval in many households. Men’s attitudes hadn’t changed. However, women had had a taste of freedom from financial worries and a sense of pride in their abilities to do many other things along with being a wife and mother. Some were able to convince their husbands that with two incomes they could finally get a few of the things they were not previously able to afford; and now there were so many more “things” to be had.
As the “Joneses” began to accumulate a large variety of household items, automobiles, boats, vacations and whatever they seemed to want (they were way past needs by now), neighbors and family members began to see the value of another income in the family.
Everyone wanted their children to have more than they did and the only way to get it was to have more cash flow in the home, so more women joined the work force. And so it is, each generation wanting more than the last, till we have come to a place where nothing satisfies anymore. Too much has become not enough. For the most part, family values have fallen apart as well as families themselves.
There is a lot to be said about “the good old days”, but would we want them back? I really don’t think we would want everything as it was. Medicine and technology have advanced too far to ever go back, but it would be good to recapture the integrity, respect, manners, and the sanctity of marriage, along with an appreciation for the blessings God gives us each day. We need to remember to worship the Giver and not the gift; for without the Giver, there would be no gifts.
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