Saturday, October 29, 2005

"The Past, In Pasteboard"


Today at the local flea market I found a true piece of American history for a mere two bucks.

It is the A Century of Progress Exposition Official Book of Views, which was the guide book for the 1933 World Exposition (World's fair) held in Chicago.

The book in lavashed with beautiful color plates and percise diagrams and layouts of the exposition, some of which are almost surrealistic.

Such as "rocket cars" (a monrail) traveling above the exposition so tourists can get a better look, while propeller-driven airplanes and dirigibles fly in the background. Tall skyscraper sort of buildings, Halls of Science, etc., gives it all a very Things to Come sort of feel. Everything is very uplifting and full of promise, which is what the whole theme was meant to be in 1933.

That's because this nation was in a depression, and President Franklin Roosevelt was trying desperately to make his "New Deal" ideas work. For the majority of the people in this country were out of work, farms were suffering in the mid-west from the harsh dust bowl affect, and...well...times were rough. Very rough.

Anyone with parents old enough to have lived through this time period will tell you that people, in general, just had nothing. They lived on nothing, and they made little of nothing for a day's work (IF they were lucky enough to have a job).

People living today if they're under the age of 70, don't know what that feels like. Sure, there's poverty and people are out of work, but back then before social security and government benefits, you had nothing to look foreward to. You just existed and fought to live your life and keep those you loved alive from day-to-day. If the same scenario was to happen today, this country would be in piss poor shape to handle it.

Crime would escalate to such a degree unimaginable. We think about all of these poor, unfortunates here lately that are homeless and lost loved ones from natural disasters, but...what would it be like if there was NO government relief at all? Complete and total anarcy.

Things have changed since 1933. We never got a monorail in every city, or such things as personal rocket cars and electric highways. 'Course, we don't need them since, if you're reading this, you have a device right in front of you that'll take you anywhere in the world, pay your bills without having to get up out of your seat, contact your friends without lifting the telephone, play your music without turning on the stereo, and even play videos for you. This device can educate you, make you money (or, lose it), and even babysit your kids. Things have indeed changed since 1933.

And it's here for you to enjoy. But, don't get addicted to it, or take it for granted.

Things could always get "tough" again.

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