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Where the past looks surprisingly like the present

September 24, 2010

As I see it, one of the problems with our lovely two-party system, besides the fact that both are crazy, is thus:

Die-hard conservatives look at our past with rose-colored glasses.  The past was always a better time– (oh how justice was fair and swift in the Wild West).

Die-hard liberals look at our future with rose-colored glasses.  A Utopia is possible with just a bit more legislation… (and a bit more…and a bit more…)

I’m neither, by the way, though I definitely lean more towards the nostalgic side of things.  I can’t help it.  I’m dreamy and old books and movies and pictures just add allure to the days of yore.

The cold hard truth is that every time period has its own set of problems.  And it will always be that way.  We will always be fighting to maintain some sort of order and balance in a perpetually fallen world.  I think this literary love of mine said it best:

“The world does not progress. It wobbles.” – G.K. Chesterton

Anyway… HH sent me a link today with color pictures from 1939- 1942.  Kodak had just come out with their color film, although black and white was obviously the norm.  And, until now, I don’t think I’ve seen any color pictures from that era (no candid shots at least).

I tend to think of the 40s, in my imagination, as being much like the beginning of the movie “Pleasantville.”  Everything is really black and white: people, places and things.  This view colors (no pun intended) my view of their society as well.  Surely it means that morality was black and white, right and wrong were clearly separated.  You always knew the right side of an issue– and I definitely would have participated in the French Underground!  (Proxy morality…sigh… DarwinCatholic wrote a great article about it here.)

I also tend to think of all the women with perfect hollywood style fluffy hair, the children in cutsie ruffled dresses and knickers and all the men are clean cut under sharp fedoras.

Black and white photos only ever emphasized the differences (and makes all the women look like they have flawless skin…just saying…).

As it turns out, (surprise!), they had color in their lives way back then, and in fact, things look surprisingly normal.  Normal (non-hollywood) people with normal clothes and normal lives.  Facing normal day-to-day problems for their time.  For instance, I give you this picture of school children performing in 1940 (hopefully it’s ok to reproduce these):

Could pass as a normal school recital except…oh my goodness…  shoes?  As in, where are they?  I don’t think you’d see such a thing in even the poorest of school districts these days.

For more old color photos go here.  I stared at each picture and ended up just being glad to be living today (as cool as fedora-wearing-men are).

Sure, we have huge problems throughout the world and no amount of government (or lack thereof) is going to solve everything for everybody.  So we persevere, do the best we can, and, by the grace of God, we’ll make it out of the time and into the next.  Hopefully with our human dignity intact.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 24, 2010 10:34 pm

    Wow, those old pictures are sure neat! I like that Chesterton quote – he’s great 😀

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