Friday, November 16, 2007

Pressing on . . .through The 40s

Blame it on The Andrews Sisters but for the last week or so strains of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, have been drifting through my mind… A-toot, a-toot, a-toot-diddelyada-toot, He blows it eight-to-the-bar, in boogie rhythm. . .

I’m just catching up on The 40s, the decade when my parents graduated from high school. That’s thanks to a cache of videos that I discovered, here in Rostov-on-Don, of all places, in the public library. On first floor is the Center of Foreign Language with books, periodicals and videos in Germany, French and English. Lots more.

I only recently discovered a bookcase back in a corner there crammed with videos of US history, many PBS documentaries. First I checked out a set about FDR and his presidency, then another about America between the world wars and now a set about Harry Truman.

I wasn’t looking for historical videos. I was looking for a way to catch up on my ironing. That and polishing my boots. Can anything be more boring? Add a video and suddenly, chores aren't so bad. In fact, I'm considering offering to help the neighbors with their ironing.

My parents and grandparents knew The 40s. Both grandfathers were in WWI and Dad was in post-war Germany. He and Mom married in the late 40s. They were raised during The Depression, of course, and they contributed wholeheartedly to The Baby Boom.

I remember once walking past a university classroom and overhearing a colleague, Ladies and gentlemen, the micro is always affected by the macro. And he repeated himself a time or two for good measure, shouting with the fervor of a small town preacher from a by-gone era. It’s not news of course that whatever is going on in a culture, in a country, in a community affects the smallest unit of society, the family.

When the country is going through bleak financial times, when sugar and gasoline are being rationed, that’s going to affect a family of four boys who live at 315 Broadway Street in Girard, Ohio. And when cloth is at such a premium that hemlines and sleeves are shortened across the nation, a family of four girls in rural Wayne County, Ohio is going to know it. My parents were raised in those families, their lives typical of so many others.

How ironic for me to relive all this history from the comfort of my own living room here on Semashka Street in Rostov-on-Don. Well, it's as comfortable as ironing denim shirts and pillowcases could possibly be. I wonder though, did those Andrews sisters do any ironing? It’s certainly safe to assume they never ironed while watching themselves on video.

How about you: Do you iron? Do you enjoy history? Do you sing Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy - while you're ironing? Or while showering, for that matter?

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