By Gerry Fischer
They say the age of 70 is the new 50, I don’t know about that, but when I graduated high school, and entered college the Hippie movement was in full sway. At that time the advice suggested to young people was, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” By reverse reasoning, we can deduce if 70 is the new 50, then 50 must be the new 30. If that seems confusing to you, what do you think it does to me? I’m 75, and based on the era in which I was born, I am old and growing younger.
I was born in the last year of WW II, and Adolph Hitler, Tojo Hideki, Benito Mussolini and a host of their minions of war, were trying to annihilate the United States and most of the “Free World. They did this in a discriminatory way. The Japanese massacred Chinese and Koreans, the Germans slaughtered Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Gays, the Italians joined the German’s and attacked Ethiopia killing many of Hiali Selassie’s people. As a matter of fact, those three enemy countries formed a treaty known as the “Axis Alliance.” I of course have little memory of my first year of life, but I remember hearing the older people talk, and have learned and seen the sacrifices made in order to win the war. In Vietnam, Kuwait, Desert Storm, Somalia and all the others since, we do not sacrifice, only the soldiers and their families. We have become spoiled.
During WW II all Americans were called upon to do something to aid winning the war. Food was in short supply; therefore, neighbors and individuals were asked by the government to plant vegetable gardens. These became known as “Victory Gardens.” There were meatless days, and even if you could afford meat it was rationed. Everyone had stamp books they were required to carry to the stores in order to make a purchase. As the stamps were cancelled, you had to wait until the next week to make your purchase. Gasoline was similarly rationed. I can clearly remember my Grandmother Fischer’s “Air-raid curtains. They were solid black, and issued by the government “Civil Defense Corps.” When the sirens went off everyone had to pull down the curtains and turnout the lights so the enemy planes could not see the city. All exterior signage, lights and street lamps had to be turned off.
Churches, Boy and Girl Scout Troops, schools, neighborhoods and other organizations collected scrap metal and donated it for the war effort. It took metal to make planes, tanks, guns, and bayonets. You could not purchase an automobile, truck, tires, parts, and accessories unless you were exempted for the war effort. All manufacturing went to make weapons and equipment of war.
There were clothing drives and food drives. People walked several miles to work and home instead of driving. Telephone installation were restricted and stopped until about 1953. My mother was a Registered Nurse, and it was only because she was deemed necessary for the Korean War effort that we could have a telephone installed. It was the only one on our street and it was a four-party line. Each party had a different ring, and yes there were always nosy people listening in.
We now find ourselves in a war where once again we are called upon to sacrifice. Unlike those Spartan sacrifices of WW II, the sacrifices of today are no less important. We are asked to keep a nominal distance between us and others, because this invisible enemy does not discriminate by race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. There is no way we can recognize the enemy. We are asked not to congregate in Church, schools, meetings, or in any places not deemed necessary, but we can take heart in the fact that our businesses and factories are all pitching in as in WW II to defeat this new enemy. Our new soldiers are now the doctors and nurses, EMS and hospital personnel. If we all sacrifice alike, plant a new kind of “Victory Garden,” make a few masks to wear when we absolutely have to get out, and look on the “bright side,” we will get through this just fine.
What is the Brightside? This virus has done what my Grandmother, Mother and a lot of wives were never able to do. It has canceled all sports, shut down the taverns, bars and kept their husbands at home. How’s that going??