Tom Purcell, 12/6/2010 [Archive]

Our Snapshot of America

Our Snapshot of America

By Tom Purcell

It was a fine night that offered an interesting snapshot of America.

Over the Thanksgiving break, I joined with 50 others for an impromptu high school reunion.

We grew up in Bethel Park, a fairly typical American suburb in Pittsburgh, PA that exploded in population in the '60s and '70s.

Many of our parents had grown up in the city in the '20s, '30s and '40s. They were brimming with optimism by the time they moved to Bethel.

By 1946, America had won World War II. The baby boom was under way and would last some 18 years.

My parents, born in 1933 and 1937, were of the Silent Generation. In 1956, soon after my father returned from the Army -- he was drafted just after the Korean War ended -- he took a secure job with the telephone company and married my mother, his high school sweetheart. They had very little money, but, like many couples then, began a family right away.

By 1964, they'd saved enough to move to a brand-new four-bedroom home in the "Promised Land" -- Bethel Park.

They did so because they dreamed of a better life for their children -- better schools, a finer home, a safer neighborhood with huge backyards where their children could play.

Bethel Park delivered.

Through the mid-'70s, my classmates and I experienced what was essentially a 1950s upbringing.

Most moms stayed home and ran our neighborhoods like well-oiled machines.

Though it was a rigid time for adults -- women had limited opportunities outside the home and dads carried most of the financial burden -- it was a great time to be a kid.

There were no 24-hour cable news channels to scare parents into locking their kids in the house.

We played outside all day -- we jumped on our bikes and rode throughout South Park, several miles away.

We lived by two basic rules: We better not be late for supper and we better come home when the street lights come on.

Our childhood was marked by a total lack of chaos -- an abundance of orderliness and innocence.

I remember one night when our father made us turn off "Love, American Style," a TV comedy series about romance. Such "racy fare" was not permitted in our home.

We were protected from most of the adult world. We had little awareness of the war in Vietnam, riots and other turmoil rocking the country.

Our childhood world was one of security and hopefulness, a world in which we were free to dream.

Though the economy was bad during our high school years, it didn't trouble most of us. We had a raucous good time -- many of us had college and bright futures ahead of us.

Our timing was great. When we graduated from college in 1984, the economy was booming -- and would continue to grow, for the most part, until 2008.

Now here we are, nearly a half-century old. Our hair is thinning. We've put on a few more pounds than we'd like. Many of our surviving parents are ill.

The optimism infused in us from our start is being challenged as we worry about our future, our children's future, our country's future.

But a week ago Saturday night, we enjoyed a respite from our adult world.

Our formal 30-year reunion was canceled due to a lack of attendees, but four classmates organized our impromptu reunion instead.

What a grand time it was to chat and laugh with 50 other people who share the common experience of a distinct time and place now gone forever.

© 2010 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, a freelance writer is also a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For more info contact Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email sales@cagle.com. E-mail Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.

RESTRICTIONS: Tom Purcell's column may not be reprinted in general circulation print media in Pennsylvania's Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Westmoreland Counties. It may appear only in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and its sister publications.



Download Tom Purcell's color photo - Download Tom Purcell's black and white mug shot photo
Why not run a cartoon with the column? We recommend the cartoons below as a good compliment to Tom Purcell's topic.
Click on the thumbnail images to preview and download the cartoons.

Related Cartoons

Education
By: Petar Pismestrovic

April 19, 2010

Politics
By: Pavel Constantin

November 24, 2009

Politics COLOR
By: Pavel Constantin

November 24, 2009

family
By: Jiho

July 20, 2010
 

We do not accept and will not review unsolicited submissions from cartoonists.
Sales & Information: (805) 969-2829 sales@cagle.com
Billing Information: (805) 969-2829billing@cagle.com
Technical Support: support@cagle.com

FREE cartoons for your website if you're already a paying print subscriber!
Artwork and columns are copyrighted by each creator. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. [Privacy Policy]