Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Day, strike that, the half century after

Pardon the moment of philosophy......

So I keep getting into a conversation that boils down to me disagreeing with some idea that today everything is as bad and as scary as it has ever been.  Like the world is ending. Ususally starts with some discussion on the economy, but becomes much broader. 

I honestly just don't get it.  I really don't.  Below was routine news content back in the days when all was so perfect. This wasn't in some beatnik version of the National Enquirer, but the Pittsburgh Press and written by he who would become it's editor the late John Troan, by all accounts an eminently sensible guy.  There was also this little war in a far off place called Korea at the same moment in time.  I can't even imagine how the work order off to the graphics department went?? "Please draw a landscape showing an atomic bomb over Brookline by noon".  Think the editor came back on the initial drafts with a "get a few more mushroom clouds in there".  All routine.

Go read it yourself if you wish.  Every single paragraph is astonishing.  Just in passing it points out "Those French bathing suits probably will go out of style" followed soon by "You can't encase yourself in a six foot suit of concrete and a foot thick steel helmet. That would kill you sooner than the atom bomb." Might be a bit of gallows humor in that, but I really don't think that was written tongue in cheek!  How is an entire generation not completely neurotic if these were daily concerns?


7 Comments:

Blogger Sextant said...

What always amused the hell out of me was notions of surviving a full scale nuclear exchange. Why would anyone want to do that? If the big one ever comes, I want to be at ground zero. Completely painless, I would be vaporized something on the order of million times faster than my nerves can transmit impulses.

Things are always worse for those alive at any particular era, simply because one is present to experience them.

Thursday, December 15, 2011 8:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brookline?! Looks more like Greenfield, near The Run, to me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011 8:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok. Maybe the sky isn't falling. (Or bombs being dropped.) But doesn't the federal deficit worry you even a little?

Thursday, December 15, 2011 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

I think public debt as a percentage of GDP was considerably higher in 1951.

Thursday, December 15, 2011 1:27:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

If you mean the federal debt, yes. We were still paying down WWII.

Thursday, December 15, 2011 2:09:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

Yep, I meant federal debt held by the public.

Thursday, December 15, 2011 5:29:00 PM  
Blogger EdHeath said...

I am curious what specific items are cited when you have the conversation about how bad and scary things are worse than they ever have been. I mean, we did just dodge another Great Depression, income is pretty high (especially considering we still (barely) have a progressive federal income tax system) and national debt as an absolute number is pretty high. On the other hand, treasury bonds are paying negative rates (making a tiny amount of money for the government, yet still selling like hot cakes.

The article is quite interesting. I expect Pittsburgh was a split town at the time, between the executives of local corporate headquarters and the great mass of steel workers and the like. I believe college educations were somewhat more rare in 1951 (especially if you were not a executive). The veterans of World War II had almost certainly not had direct experience with atomic weapons, and were unfamiliar with the concept of radiation (an item noticeably missing from that PG story). It is a good thing the Soviets decided to be more worried about the UN and Korea than what a threat Pittsburgh was to them.

Friday, December 16, 2011 6:25:00 PM  

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