Everyone has a story to tell. Mine is saved in a Burn file, to be revised and made public after January 2009, if I be lucky enough to have the vigor.
Title of the memoir is Mule Team to Laser Beam.
The mules were with my father in 1918 when he left Kansas to homestead in Northeast Wyoming. A few years later farm prices fell and eventually so did Wall Street. I couldn't understand how a wall could fall on a street. My parents explained it was a market much like Omaha where we sold cattle. Only the stock was a different kind.
Regardless, the people were in a panic. My mother assured me the country had survived panics before.
By March 1933, shortly after my eleventh birthday, President Roosevelt declared a bank holiday. I didn't buy happy talk. They explained how some banks didn't have enough money and Mr. Roosevelt was trying to make it better. Their faces told me this holiday was no picnic. Our bank held. We kept the farm!
Through the days of Jesse Owens and Hitler, the alphabet jokes, nasty jibes at Eleanor's globetrotting, hard times and bone dry weather, I elbowed my way into the University of Iowa.
During my sophomore year, Pearl Harbor came. Men students went to war. We saved stamps for a Sunday roast, bought savings bond to fund the war, gave blood and volunteered at University Hospital wards. Working my way through got better as graduate assistants, and thus their wives, left campus. I became a part time secretary. When the Foreign Student Adviser graduated, I took his place.
When the Engineering Building blew the whistle in August 1945, I was marking time to start my first real job in the nation's capital. We taught English and conducted tours to official sites for professionals who were climbing the bureaucratic ladders in their own countries. It was a great year of returning generals and sights to see, dampened by an increasing undertow of Joe McCarthy.
The American-Scandinavian Foundation in New York provided a more amenable atmosphere. After passage became available I went to Denmark for a year, just to see what Social Democracy was all about. Came back broke, made a stake, and eventually headed for the Rockies to cure a sinus infection and my wanderlust.
As a bonus, I found my life's mate and we worked the resort circuit. By the time McCarthy met his comeuppance, we were ready to settle into steady work in Chicago, arriving just in time to see the first Mayor Daley get elected. During the hell raising of the 1968 convention, I worked as a computer programmer down the street from where he lived.
Shadows of Tricky Dick loomed in '72 as ominously as when I fled DC over thoughts of HUAC. As TV carried live the House committee hearings on his impeachment in July 74, I was transfixed.
The year of polyester leisure suits had members outdo each other with color coordination. It was Barbara Jordan's beautiful discourse, however, which rings in my ears still.
Politics, next to war, is probably the most iffy endeavor human beings engage in. If Nixon had beat Kennedy in 60, where would the country be today? Even Chicagoans are willing to admit the count might have been that way. How would the civil rights movement have proceeded?
For those familiar with Taylor Branch's trilogy on the King Years, take a moment to ponder that a people became fed up, sought advice, and then did it their way. Isn't that the essence of progressivism?
My husband and I moved to a fixer-upper in East Tennessee just as the rust belt was hitting Chicago. We met Carter/Reagan inflation, with the ever-rising price of plywood. We watched the Dow plunge.
I consoled myself with what my mother told me about panics.
Before the '88 election, I took a bus trip west to visit family. Smoke from Yellowstone Park settled in Kansas City. On the way to Denver, the sunflowers bowed to their knees. In Iowa the corn shriveled. President Bush got his one term. My husband lived to see Bill Clinton take the reins. "Best politician since FDR," he said.