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As Long as We Remember...

May 20, 2014

Not the Worst Time

Roy Meachum

The other evening a female acquaintance remarked “This is the worst time.” She was 10 years younger; had missed the Great Depression and the Rise of Dictatorship. By the day she had come along, it was World War II.


She had arrived just as the Great Holocaust had become news. After the movies turned color; the first Technicolor film shot outdoors was “The Trail of The Lonesome Pine.” I had seen it in Monroe’s Desiard Street theatre while I was visiting my great-grandparents. I became enchanted with the doughty Finns who resisted the mighty Soviet Union; I collected lead soldiers.


On the way to write this column, I glanced at Russian Vladimir Putin’s making new headlines far to the south; Ukraine kicked out the pro-Moscow president. Crimea split. There was a bloody mishegas. Now Mr. Putin threatens the United States. This was old-kind of trouble.


In my lifetime, hatred came with a demographic – because of nationality, religion and breed, which was different. Japan invaded China; the claim was racial superiority. Hitler and Mussolini did the same and for identical reasons. It turned out Rome bettered Ethiopia and Libya; that was before oil was discovered under North Africa. You get the idea.


My friend was wrong; we don’t live in the worst of times. It makes hazardous when someone comes out against you; victims are chosen haphazardly. Police blotters are frightening: they reveal victims can be chosen for all kinds of reasons. Lots of sexual assaults happening now and many youngsters fall prey.


When I was three-years-old, when Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., was kidnapped and adults around me did not handle it well. For several years the threat of snatching out of my bed, grown-ups seemed real – although we had no wealth or fame, as Lucky Lindy did. (By the way, his wife gave him five other children; and, with various women, he sired seven others.)


The Spanish Civil War happened then: I remember Henry Fonda alone in “Blockade,” listening to a telegraphic key. He was a “loyalist,” opposed to Francisco Franco. My trip to Spain was haunted by the “late unpleasantries.”


As readers know, I spent seven years in boarding school; Holy Cross College, it was called. This removal from reality, we read newspapers only at home, may have warped my memory; nevertheless, I insist on dangers coming from the categories we found ourselves in.


This is not worst of time in which humanity finds itself – by no means.


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