Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Giving Thanks Is Harder Nowadays

November 13, 2023 by  
Filed under Highlights

BY LOUIE OVERSTREET

Louie Overstreet

Looking back over my life during this month of Thanksgiving, I can only conclude it is harder now to find things to be thankful for nowadays than it was back in the day. 

Our family of five moved to Cleveland in September 1942, I was less than a year old. I learned, like all families, that we made sacrifices during WWII. My parents planted victory gardens next to the famed Phillis Wheatley building on 46th/Cedar in ‘43, ‘44, and ‘45. Within six years, in 1948, with only my father working, we owned a new Pontiac car, 12” Philco (Philadelphia Battery Company) TV and had a party line phone. We had lots to be thankful for in our segregated neighborhood. Nowadays, a car is north of $50,000, regardless of where you live. 

In the 1960s, I attended Ohio University’s engineering college for $1,500 a year. I worked as a janitor, in the cafeteria, a summer job, and with my parents’ help, got a debt-free education. Nowadays, it costs $28,616 to attend OU. This is a whopping 19 times what it cost back then. I am thankful for being blessed and lucky enough to go to college back then and not nowadays — our family couldn’t handle the sticker shock. 

However, by far the biggest difference between back then and nowadays is our body politic. Back in the 1960s, a greater percentage of Republicans voted for civil and voting rights legislation than did Democrats. Nowadays, the Republicans have become climate-denying, Bible-thumping, bigoted Repugs who packed the SCOTUS. The Court nowadays is reversing progress like I-90 going West. 

You can’t convince me that this generation of divided Americans would be capable of keeping nuclear families together, winning a war on two fronts in less than four years, educating a generation of kids from working-class families, pioneering cures for diseases, and making social progress like the greatest generation did. 

Nowadays, I am afraid the present generation hasn’t demonstrated the “right stuff” to keep the USA from coming apart at the seams.

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