Message Forum


 
go to bottom 
  Post Message
  
    Prior Page
 Page  

10/20/23 09:39 AM #443    

Allison Oakes (Sabraw)

Great Data -thank you for the data and all of your time !!

allison


10/20/23 03:11 PM #444    

Susie Weidman (Arnold)

Bill, as always I enjoyed the information you sent to all of us, Thank  you for  your time and knowledge.  Your students sure were lucky to have you as their professor,


10/22/23 04:26 PM #445    

 

Francis Patrick Hassey (MidTerm)

Thank you Bill,

All of your posts are enlightening and much appreciated. My birth name before I was adopted at age 13 was Francis Patrick Cudahy. I have done some research on ancestry to find a lot of inforation on my birth Father and his family.

On another note, How do I get to your eariler posts about what it was like when we grew up. I want to share that information with my Son Peter Hassey.


10/23/23 04:40 AM #446    

 

Bill Kelso

Dear Francis

 

It was nice to hear from you. 

 

I think you are doing all the right things by conducting independent research by either contacting family members or having an organization like Ancestor.com analyze DNA information. Because of the melting pot, our surnames give only a partial view of our ethnic background. The fact that your birth name is Cudahy only proves that my grandfather was right that I attended school with lot of other Irish kids.

 

I will also try to find the information you asked for. About a week ago I tried to send you that information to your private e mail address but I just checked my list of sent e mails and that e mail failed to arrive. I am sorry for the miscommunication. But I will try to do better this time. To avoid another mishap this time I will send the information on your private McClatchy address.

 

Unfortunately, I must be getting older and somewhat forgetful as I am not quite sure what article to send you. But give me some time and I will try to figure it out. 

 

In the meantime, take care. I will get back to you soon.

 

Bill

 

 

 


10/24/23 11:11 AM #447    

 

Francis Patrick Hassey (MidTerm)

Bill,

Thank you for trying to send your earlier posts regarding what it was like for us to grow up in the fifties, sixties and seventies. I am not sure how to find a private McClatchy post. If you want to try my email again it is: 

fphassey@gmail.com and my phone number is: 1 (916) 712-5498 If you call and I do not answer, please leave a voice maill message.

Thanks again for your excellant posts

Patrick


10/29/23 09:28 PM #448    

 

Charlotte Adelman (Paliani)

 

David, thanks for posting the great pictures from the reunion. I am sorry I couldn't attend.Look forward to the next one! Everyone looked happy, healthy and having a great time. I must admit I had to focus on some name tags, not because people looked so different but because my memory for names is going, going, going. haha.

 


12/04/23 09:42 AM #449    

 

Bill Kelso

 

                  How our Generation Shaped America

As we wind up our final years it is interesting to analyze how the world has changed since we graduated from McClatchy. However, for many people such developments seem unimportant, as they seem external to us and appear to affect our lives only indirectly. 

To hopefully stimulate more interest in our changing world and to make the subject more appealing, it might be helpful to change the focus of these posts. While previously we have tried to see how a changing world affected our lives, it might be more interesting to reverse the process and examine how our lives as teenagers and young adults affected the world and transformed our country.

Naturally the above statement probably seems terribly overblow. After all when we were young high school kids, we had no conception that our actions in the 60s were anything special. In most cases, the demands of daily living, of finding a job or going to college, preoccupied most of us. 

                                                             (1)

                               The Rise of the Teenager in America

                             From the Jazz Age to our Rock and Roll Age

Despite our lack of recognition, I want to focus on two key events to show the role our generation played in shaping American life. First of all I want to analyze how in the immediate post WWII period, the US developed its second but also most significant teenage youth culture.  In the 1920s there had been an earlier and much more modest growth in the size of the teenager population which today is known as the Jazz Age but it pales in comparison to the growth in the 1960s of our generation which is now known as the Rock and Roll Age.

However, the young people of the Jazz Age, which is also known as the Roaring 20s, certainly made a distinctive mark on American life. 

After all the Jazz Age which was noticeable for the behavior of its young people who fought in the trenches of WWI, became famous for their embrace of Jazz, as well as their adoption of a new form of morality which celebrated wild parties and making money.  

Many commentators want to compare the roaring 20s to the 1960s whose young people fought in the jungles of Viet Nam, embraced Rock and Roll and adopted at the end of the decade a new youthful nonconformist culture which also celebrated wild and drug infused parties. However, despite the superficial similarities, I want to argue that the two major youth cultures were very different. 

While novelists like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway felt that the Jazz Age was a failure and that the young men who fought in the war were a lost generation, I want to show at the end of this post that the expansive teenage population of the 1960s had a much more lasting and benign impact on American life.

To appreciate this development, I want to first discuss how the size of the potential teenage population dramatically increased in the early 20th century. And then secondly, I want to show how this new subsection of the American population developed its own unique culture, which in many cases conflicted with the outlook of their parents. 

After delineating how the makeup of the American population was evolving, I secondly, hope to show how the growth of the Rock and Roll Age significantly transformed America. 

Even though as teenagers in the 1960s we were undoubtedly unaware how our collective behavior impacted our country, our actions have had three significant and far reaching effects on the nature of American life today. For example, the growth of a youth culture not only helped 1) transform the musical tastes and the nature of entertainment in the US but 2) but in the process it also created a more tolerant and inclusive popular culture in which African Americas came to play a prominent role and 3) equally importantly the growth of the Rock and Roll generation played a major role in helping to transformed the American economy from primarily a service, finance and manufacturing economy into an economy that also has a major entertainment sector. Today as senior citizens we are enjoying the benefits and consequences of decisions we unconsciously pursued as young teenagers.

The Age of Adolescence

What caused the development of a teenager youth culture were developments that took several decades to play out. But the biggest factor that led to the rise of both the Jazz Age in the 1920s and the Rock and Roll Age in the 1960s was the growth of industrialization at the turn of the century. As the US became an industrial powerhouse, business had a need for a much better educated labor force. Increasingly before they hired anyone, they insisted on a high school or college education.

The result was a dramatic increase in the number of people graduating from high school. From a low of 8% of teenagers graduating from high school in 1905, the figures increase to close to 60%by the 1960s.  The number going to college also increased but at a much slower rate. Whereas the number of students graduating from college role during the Jazz age increased from 1% to around 4%,  by the time we graduated in 1963 a little over 7% of the American pubic had obtained college degrees.

High School Graduates        

                              1905          1920          1960          1990          2020

                                8%             18%           59%           80%           89%

As the number of students started to rise, psychologists in the early 20th century even invented a new name, called adolescence, to describe this new generation in American life. In the pre industrial age, when most kids lived on the farm, they often began helping their parents by working at a young age and were considered young adults.  Given the need for more education, the world of children now expanded to meet the needs of this new more demanding industrial age. There now appeared to be three stages of early life, rather than two, childhood, adolescence and then adulthood. 

While increasingly everyone agree that we needed to recognize this new stage in growing up, the word adolescence, which seemed overly academic or even pedantic, was soon replaced by the more popular term teenager after WWII.

Despite the growth in the size of teenagers in high school and college, it took a while for this new school age population to acquire a separate identity and to think of themselves as teenagers who shared a common outlook on life.

How Teenage Identity Replaced Ethnic Culture

The first hurdle was the problem of ethnicity. Beginning in the 1950s and extending through the early 1970s there was a new dynamic in American life.  Life in cities like Sacramento was significantly different from enclave cities like New York as the Melting Pot in more homogeneous cities started to work its magic in blurring ethnic divisions. 

At the same time that various ethnic group started marrying each other, erasing ethnic differences, the growth of large number of increasing affluent and sometimes bored teenagers began to magnify age differences. As young people ceased to think of themselves as Irish or Italians or Germans, they tended to identify as teenagers instead who values and desire for independence often clashed with the wishes of their parents. 

As similarities between teenagers became more pronounced, they often found themselves at odds with their older parents, creating in the process a new generation gap. As we shall see later whether it was buying 45s at Tower records or the growth of saddle shoes and bobby socks or women adopting a flip hair style, young people were beginning to forge a new teenager culture that often startled their adult counterparts.

How Teenager Identity Overcame Class Biases

Beside overcoming ethnic differences among teenagers, young people starting college also faced unpleasant class differences. In the early 1920s the few people who attended college were generally from well to do families. At that time most universities were private universities that catered to the very well to do. 

When private schools thus started to admit a few students from ethnic neighborhoods like Hells Kitchen or the Lower East Side, there was a lot of social conflict.  Since many students from recently arrived ethnic groups often lacked the polished manners of the upper class, they were often treated in a patronizing or snobbish manner. To correct this problem many elite schools created gentlemen agreements to limit the number of lower income students. The fact that the agreements were called gentlemen agreements reflected the fact that ivy league schools did not think of the lower income students starting to attend their campuses had the manners of proper gentlemen. 

In a more positive vein, private school also started creating student unions on college campus in the hopes of creating new venue in which students from different economic background could interact.  Traditionally the students from wealthy families occupied fraternities and sororities and looked down on lower income classmates who could not afford to live in frat houses. By creating new student unions, private and later public junior college and universities tried to create new institutions in which students from a variety of economic background could interact with one.  The hope was that by creating these new facilities, universities would undermine the degree of class snobbery that existed in many college campuses.

However, it was state and city governments that were the primary actors in trying to to break down the class biases of college. To make sure colleges were open to students of all economic classes, states and cities began a concerted effort to start building city colleges after WWII. To compliment the creation of city colleges most states tried to ensure that every major city had a relatively inexpensive state college. By and large their efforts were highly successful. By the time we graduated from high school, students from all walks of life could afford a college education.  As college became less expensive, the class divisions that had divided college and high school students also declined.

With ethnic and class differences shrinking, a new youth culture began to develop. Prior to the industrial age, young people often lived isolated lives in which their parents and perhaps their local church and community shaped their attitudes. By the middle of the 20th century, that bond between parents and teenagers began to fray.

The Rise of Advertising and National Magazines

With the rise of an industrialized economy, businesses and mass advertisers started to influence how young people saw themselves. While Americans had once lived isolated lives separated by great distances, large American companies started to standardize how Americans viewed the world. That process was certainly true of teenagers. As national companies began to produce magazines aimed at teenagers with names like Seventeen, large business enterprises sought to advise young women on how they should dress and comport themselves, diminishing in the process the influence of parents.

The Rise of the all Encompassing High School

But even more importantly, as young people were spending more and more time in school, school activities and peer pressure came to rival parents in shaping the attitude of young people. Increasingly high schools had a dramatic impact on students as they provided a place for constant peer interaction without any parental supervision. With the combination of mass advertising and the all-encompassing high school, young students gained more control over the shape of their lives. In classrooms and extracurricular activities teenagers had an unprecedent opportunity to develop friendship and peer culture with only a minimal amount of adult control. 

As the demand for a better educated labor force intensified, schools went to great lengths to attract and retain students by enhancing their social life. They believed they could attract more students if they gave teenagers the chance to be part of a larger entity in which they could individually excel.  Schools quickly realized that if they solely appealed to student to stay in school because of the benefits of education, they would fail in their mission. However, if they developed extensive athletic teams or created musical or social programs, students would come to school for the extracurricular activities. 

For examples, while many male students might be indifferent about studying or even graduating high school, their desire to shine on the gridiron in the weekly football game would give them plenty of incentives to pass all of their classes. For students who did not actually play sports, the high school ritual of attending the weekly high school football game and then cruising K street after the game made high school life attractive. If the local team won, students often felt a sense of pride in the achievements of their high school. High school was a place where teenagers could feel that they were not alone, that they belonged to a larger and respected entity that enhanced their individual status.

As the above examples indicate, school became the center of many teenagers’ life. Whether it was playing sports, singing in the choir, participating in the marching band, being a cheer leader, or just hanging out with your classmates high school shaped people’s lives. Instead of living at home and then attending school, many young people lived at school, and then attending home merely to eat dinner and rest. Increasingly school activities and friendships rather than family life gave many young people an identity as well as a sense of belonging. 

By the time we graduated, a new youth culture had emerged that often embraced values our parents were not wholly comfortable with. Tomorrow we will try to analyze the distinctive youth culuture that developed in the 1960s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


12/05/23 12:48 PM #450    

 

Bill Kelso

 

                                      (2)

          The Development of a New Youth Culture

                          The Rock and Roll Age

As the size and shape of a new student based population emerged in the 1960s, teenagers often adopted a distinctive set of attitudes that many of their parents often found disconcerting. Among other cultural changes, in the 1960s there were new norms shaping 1) our view of life, 2) how we should dress, 3) the nature of dating and 4) and what was most appropriate ways to entertain ourselves.

                                      From Self Restraint to Self-Expression

For example, before the rise of large companies and the age of mass advertising most people lived on either farms or ran small businesses. In this simpler economy many individuals felt their financial situation was often precarious. To financially survive, American culture stressed the need for people to exercise self-discipline, to show restrain, to save and reinvent in their local businesses or farm if they wanted to survive. 

However, with the rise of large impersonal businesses and the growth of a more affluent economy all of that changed.  With the growth of the American economy in the 20th century, individuals ceased being solo entrepreneurs and instead found themselves as employees of large corporations whose allegiance to the company was often superficial. They also were increasing better off and no longer felt the need to save and be frugal.

In this new environment a dramatic shift occurred in values as increasingly young Americans, who no longer felt the need to embrace an austere existence of self-discipline, elected instead to enjoy themselves. In place of living a restrained and boring life like their parents, they often wanted to express themselves and find some excitement in their interaction with other young people. 

While this shift in values undoubtedly represented a better balance between work and life, there was always the danger that the search for self expression and personal satisfaction would eventually lead people to become self indulgence or even self destructive. While that later situation may have developed in the late sixties with the rise of LSD and the drug culture for some teenagers, in the early 50s and 60s the teenager culture for most young people seemed more liberating and exciting than self destructive.

                                    What Should a Teenager Look Like?

                                           The Style of Young Women

To express their new search for individuality. teenagers and their new youth culture also placed a lot of attention on their personal appearance. But that emphasis on their appearance should not surprise us. After all, the very first youth culture in America which is called the Jazz Age led to the development of the flapper, the first distinctive style of the young.

The Flapper Age

Prior to the 1920s the ideal of feminine beauty was labeled a Gibson Girl, who was a woman who had an hour glass figure with a narrow wait and a big bust. Because the young people of the Jazz Age wanted to carve out a separate identity for themselves, young girls rejected this traditional view of an ideal women and adopted in its place bob (short) haircuts, and vertical dresses that deemphasized their figure. In place of female curves, they favored a flat chested and even masculine appearance.

To retain some degree of femininity, young flappers also raised their hemlines and began to show their ankles, a daring move at the time. To emphasize their new risqué look, the flappers often wore nylons stocking and wore expensive looking pumps or high heels. 

The Bobby Sox Age of the 40s

However, by 1940s the flapper age was losing its appeal. Young girls now adopted a more wholesome look which is today called the Bobby Sox look. In place of a vertical dress they often shied away from dresses and started to wear full bodied skirts with tight fitting sweaters. They were known as Bobby Sox girls because they started to wear either saddle shoes or loafers with ankle high socks and showed bare legs instead of wearing pumps and nylons. 

The Rock and Roll Age.

While the Jazz Age and its successor had a distinctive style, what was notable about the growth our Rock and Roll Age was its fleeting embrace of multiple styles. There were perhaps three reasons for this growth of diversity. First, as the teenager population dramatically increased in size, it was impossible for just one style to appeal to all young people. Secondly in its embrace of modernity, the post WWII generation also seemed intent on trying out a successor of styles, none of which seemed to last more than a few years. Thirdly, in the Rock and Roll age more so than in the Jazz age, teenagers, who had embraced a culture that stressed individuality, were always striving to try something new. 

If we take hair as an example, long hair was back in style after the short and rather plain styles of World War II. This so called bouffant hair or long hair style which got its name from a French word which means to puff or fluff up, first appeared in the late 1950s and became popular because of two innovations in the late 1950s: the roller which was used to lift and wind hair, and lacquer spray which held the curves of the large bouffant in place. Teenagers who would set their hair in heavy roller every night often slept with their rollers in the hope of appearing more attractive the next day at school.

However, by the 1960s Jacqueline Kenney helped popularize a variant on the Bouffant hairdo which became know as the flip style which was a bouncy hairdo where the end of a woman’s long hair was flipped upward. This style which was worn by many young women in the 1960s, including many of our female classmates, was soon copied by Raquel Welch, Jane Fonda and Catherine Deneuve.

But the Bouffant wave soon modified by some young teenagers into a Beehive, a hair style in which long hair is piled up in conical shape on the top of the head. Celebrities like Bridgett Bardo, Priscilla Pressley to Tammy Wynette helped popularized the style in the 1960s.

Despite the Beehives appeal, the younger generation’s desire to constantly remake themselves eventually led  many of them to adopt a more radical turn at the end of the decade. As the Viet Nam war lingered on and the hippie movement arose to oppose it, more women embraced longer and more unkempt hairdos to signal their displeasure with public policies.

The style by which young women wore their hair now became a means by which they elected to challenge conventional values. As more and more women became concerned about political issues, many choose to wear unkempt long hair either middle parted or with bangs that fell below the eyebrows to proclaim their independence from societal norms.

Changing Notions of Fashion.

The change in hair styles was also reflected in how women dressed. It is possible to generally identify four trends in women’s clothes during the Rock and Roll Age. 

First, in the early 1950s women stressed elegance, often bought glamorous clothes, and stressed European high fashion. Many women eagerly embraced the French style of Christian Dior with its nipped in the waist and full skirted silhouette. Among our female classmates this closest we came to this fascination with European fashion or quasi high fashion was reflected in the popularity of Lanz dresses, a style, which originated in Austria, which was worn by many of our classmates when we were in Jr. high and high school,

However with time the above female fashion became straighter and slimmer. But the early 1960s no one style dominated teenager let alone women’s fashion. In this second period in the 60s, skirts could be full or narrow and dresses could be form fitting sheaths and or looser hung sack like dresses.

By the middle of the 60s, young Americans began to adopt a third style as they began to wear mini skirts, a fashion designed made popular in England. To described this new trend, in which women’s skirts were four or five inches about the knee, people talked about women showing more skin.  This new style led to people coining a new word “expose” in the 1960s to capture this new sexually charged change in women’s fashion. Nancy Sinatra’s popular song “These boots were meant for walking” completed this new look as many daring young women combined white boots with colorful mini skirts. For those women with more modest taste, the decision to wear panty hose helped to mute the controversy about miniskirts. 

Finally, with the rise of a more combative youth culture, young women and even some professional women often embraced a fourth style in which anything seemed appropriate. The mini dress and panty hose often gave way to blue jeans, a sweatshirt and tennis shoes. While in the 1950s young women wanted to be fashionable, by the end of the 1960s many teenagers and college women wanted to be non conformist and adopted a unisex look to express their individuality.

                                    What Should a Teenager Look Like

                                                The Case of Men

If young women went through a dizzying array of hair and fashion choices, males went through a more modest array of appearance changes.

In terms of hairdos there were five main hair styles that defined the age. First was the Pompadour made popular by Elvis Presley, James Dean and Little Richard. It was made popular by some of the earliest Rock and Roll singers, both white and black. In this hairstyle men combed their hair upwards and back creating a high and voluminous pomp on top. It is the male counterpart of the female Beehive hairdo. 

While early Rock stars favored a Pompadour hair style, men from the military and many athletic teenagers in the 1950s, who saw Johnny Unites, the famous quarterback of the Baltimore Colts, as their idol, imitated him by cutting their hair in a Flattop style. This style was almost the polar opposite of a Pompadou as it a very short haircut that was level at the top.

By the time we went to high school most men wore a Classic 60s hair cut which was parted on the side and moderately combed over the top of the scalp. Other names associated with this hair do was the Ivy League look or just the Side Part. 

In contrast individuals who wanted to make more of a rebellious statement and act like the tough guys in school often combed their hair in a Duck Tail often combined with a modest Pompadour. They were often known as Greasers and this hair style was popular in John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John’s movie Grease.

By the end of the 1960s as the youth culture began to embrace the Hippie culture, long unkempt hair was in and many young men wore their hair shoulder length.  In a strange twist on sexual differences, young men and women often had embraced comparable hair styles.

Finally, if we look at clothes, male teenager went from wearing khaki and corduroy pants to wearing jeans, and shirts to sweatshirts. By the end of the 60s the style of men’s clothing, like female clothing, was noted for its absence of style as just about anything was acceptable. Once again, men and women also acquired similar hair and clothing styles. By the end of the 1960s a hippie unisex culture had emerged that appealed to some, but certainly not all teenagers.

                                       The New Teenage Culture of Dating          

                                                 The Desire for Privacy

A third important part of the new youth cultured that developed in the 1960s involved the desire of young people for a personal sense of space or privacy. 

In the early part of the 20th century, privacy was not a major value in American households. After all most Americans were not that well off and most homes built before 1940s were less than 900 square feet and were often built in a Craftsman style in which a large porch marked the entrance to the home. In California, a popular variant of this architectural style was called the California bungalow. 

Since homes were very small, teenagers often did not have their own room. Because before 1930s less than half of the homes had electricity, there was no reason for children let alone adult to stay inside their house as most homes lacked both radios and televisions. Since air conditioning did not become common in most American homes until the 1960s, most American families retreated to the outdoor porch where they socialized in the evening to cool off. Since these early Craftsman homes lacked the space to insure privacy to your teenagers, young children had to constantly interact with their parents.

Retiring Inside

However by the 1940s Americans had become wealthier and architectural styles began to change. By the post WWII period families who had once lived in homes where life centered on socializing on their front porch, now retired inward. California where builders had once constructed many bungalow homes in the early part of the century with front porches, now replaced them with ranch style homes which eliminated the porch all together. Increasingly ranch style home or in Sacramento Eichler homes in South Land Park, became the preferred style of home

Besides changing their styles, homes became bigger, and as families acquired radios and even TVs, teenagers often acquired the right to choose their own type of entertainmentin their own rooms. In these newfound ranch homes, teenagers increasingly began to insist on the privacy of their own rooms. In place of the whole family listening to the same radio stations, young teenagers acquired the right to choose their own type of entertainment,

This change is evident in the neighborhoods that serviced McClatchy. Most of the homes at the northern border of McClatchy’s district close to Broadway were 900 square foot California Bungalow homes. As Sacramento grew and became more prosperous, homes built south of Broadway were increasingly ranch style homes that were often 1500 sq. feet or 50% larger than older Bungalow homes. In the neighborhoods that attended Joaquin Miller, many families even lived in Eichler homes that were over 2000 square feet, a 100% increase over the earlier built Bungalow homes, a size which often guaranteeing every teenager his or her own private room.

If changing architectural styles facilitated a new teenager culture, the growing popularity of automobiles played an evenmore revolutionary role in the creation of this new youth culture.The growth of American families which enabled them to afford a car, created a whole new realm of independence and freedom for young people. 

The Rise of Modern Dating

One of the most striking changes in our lives as teenagers was the changing nature of dating patterns in the 50s. Prior to WWII, most young people never dated as we did in the 1960s. Before cars became widespread, men and women had few chances to be alone. Whether it was on the front porch on in the family’s living rooms, teenagers found that their interactions withthe opposite sex were often chaperoned by the girl’s parents.

However as people become more prosperous after WWII, teenagers increasingly had the opportunity to borrow their dad’s car which enabled them to escape the preying eyes oftheir date’s parents, enjoying in the process a degree of privacy with their dates that their parents had never enjoyed. 

In the 1960s guys and their date could spend time alone going to movies, eating at a fast food restaurant or enjoying a sundae at Vics, and depending on the degree of affection making out in the car before the night ended. The degree of freedom and privacy enjoyed by teenagers of our age was unprecedented in the 1960s.

                                      The Growth of Teenager Entertainment

Finally, as the number of young people multiplied, their increasingly well to do families enabled their children to pursue their own unique form of entertainment. For example, in the Jazz Age the wealthy often sent their teenage sons and daughters off to Ivy League colleges. In the Jazz Age colleges were more like country clubs for wealthy teenagers and flappers than what we think of colleges today. Most of those attending were not primarily interesting in learning a vocation or acquiring an education. On the contrary they went to college to primarily enjoy themselves and perhaps make connections thatwould later be useful in the business world.

The Growth of Sports

As part of their enjoyment college students at Ivy League colleges soon made football a favorite pastime. While initially football was primary an amusing exercise at private colleges in the northeast, the sports soon appealed to all colleges as well as high schools inAmerica.  Our high school interest in football was merely a continuation of student behavior that began in the Jazz age. To the surprise of many, a form of entertainment that initially appeal to young people in the 1920s and 1960s soon became a national pastime.

The Growth of Music

While the growth of sports was certainly a distinguishing feature of this new youth culture in America, it paled in comparison to the growing importance of music to young people. With the growing popularity of radio and record players in the 1920s, young people began to listen to music as their favorite pastime. Increasingly as part of this new youth culture, teenagers wanted to purchase a radio, a record player, as well as 45 records to enhance their listening pleasure.  While the 1920s wanted to listen to Jazz, our generation wanted to listen to listen to either Rock and Rock or the Rhythm and Blues.

Regardless of what style of music these different decades preferred, the appeal of radio and records in both the 20s and 60s was obviously. Unlike going to the movies which involved a major expense each time, teenagers realized that if the bought a radio or record players they could listed to their favorite form of entertainment for hours without incurring any other costs.

Ironically enough the primitive technology of the 1930s ending up shaping the listening habits of America during our high school days. When records were first made, companies were only able to record music for roughly 3 minutes. If you are old enough to remember, records came in three sizes 78s, 45s or 33s. These sizes refereed to the number of revolutions per minutes the record revolved on the turntable. The only way companies could record longer songs was to either slow down the revolutions per minute or to cut more groves in the vinyl record disc. It was only when the speed of the record was slowed to 33rpms, that a record could hold a song for a time period longer than 3 minutes.

But by the time technology had advanced to the point where it could alter America’s listening habits, people in general and teenagers in particular had become accustomed to hearing songs that lasted only 3 minutes. When the technology finally evolved to record longer lasting song tracks, teenagers felt that 3 minutes was the appropriate time for a song to last. An ancient and obsolete technology had over time altered and limited the way we listen to music even today.

Regardless of its format music quickly became an integral part of the lifestyle of most adolescents. Despite its popularity among teenagers, few radio stations had designed programs specifically to appeal to teenagers. But by early 1950s that process began to change. As TV became popular after WWII, adults began to abandon their interest in the radio and elected to enjoy their entertainment time by watching television. 

In light of the changing demographics, AM and FM radio stations started orienting their programming to young teenagers which helped them think of themselves as a unique part of society. Two factors made the radio popular among teenagers. By 1952 half of all cars came equipped with radios. As increasingly the dating culture of teenagers revolved around being alone with your date in the car, teenagers associated dating with listening to music. Secondly, this process was made even more attractive by the rise of the Dis Jockey who often talked about issues that troubled teenagers. In the movie American Graffiti, Wolfman Jack, is comparable to a teenager guru whom teenagers seek out for advice.  

The growing popularity of this new form radio entertainment helped the emerging youth culture to achieve a distinctive identity that set them apart from their parents.  

                                                   A Summary

But the change in music was only part of this newly emerging youth movement.  By the 1960s a teen culture had evolved that centered around the car, the radio, music, high school clubs and rallies, Friday night football games, individual dating, make out parties, the latest harirdos and the constantly changing fashion in teeneage clothing. In pursuit of self- expression and excitement, teenagers of the post WWII generation had forged a separate and unique youth culture that found its best depiction in George Lucas’ movie “American Graffiti.” While our generation cruised K Street in Sacramento, rather than Modesto, the significant of our actions was that all over the country young people had created a new culture that teenagers in every city of America seemed to share. Tomorrow we will try to see how the growth of this new teenage population with its distinctive youth culture helped to rehaped the social norms of the US. 

 

 

         


12/06/23 12:36 PM #451    

 

Bill Kelso

                                                (3)

                  The Impact of our Youth Culture on America

While the dramatic increase in the size of the teenager population as well as its creation of a unique youth-oriented culture was an interesting story in and of itself, the impact this new culture had on America was an even bigger story. 

But because as teenagers we were often preoccupied with our own personal lives, we were often unaware of the collective impact our individual decisions had on American society.

As we shall soon see one of the major unanticipated consequences of the 1960s embrace of a new style of music was the creation of a new form of popular culture that enhanced the status of African Americans. But perhaps this change is not surprising for if there is one defining event that distinguishes the 1960s from other decades in American history it is the decline of Jim Crow and the growth of the Civil Rights Movement. The youth culture of the 1960s played an important but often unreported role in advancing racial tolerance during this decade. 

They achieved this goal by initially embracing a previously neglected form of music made popular by African Americans.  But in many cases the preferences of young people for Rhythm and Blues as well as Rock and Roll music initially met stiff resistance from their parent’s generation. That resistance to what then was known as race music was part of a large opposition by much of society to complete integration. 

While it does not get the press it deserves, the teenagers of the 1960s who popularized this novel form of music helped break down much of that opposition by the larger adult community. By their listening habits and participation in shows like Dick Clark they gradually showed middle America that they had nothing to fear by their embrace of African American music and culture. 

                                             The Rise of Rock and Roll

As noted above the first impact of this new youth culture on American society, which often unnerved their parents, was a dramatic shift in the musical tastes of their children. In the 1940s and the 50s, American adult musical tastes were shaped by the Age of the Crooner, in which the likes of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennet sang slow and somewhat commonplace songs.  By the late 1950s and 60s teenagers had rebelled against much of the music of their parents and supported the pounding beat of Rock and Roll and Rhythm and Blues.

As American teenagers often went into a frenzy over singers like Elvis Presley, middle class America became worried about the lack of restraint among their children, Even more worrisome for many white parents, their kids seemed to have embraced African American music and dance that their parents found frighteningly provocative, seeming undermining traditional conventional American values.

                                    The Rise of an Egalitarian Popular Culture

As mentioned previously the second impact of our expansive growth in the teenager population and its new musical interests was the growth of a new popular and political culture which was more tolerant of racial difference and supportive of integration in an age noted for racial prejudice. 

Despite the significance of these changes, as young teenagers we were probably not aware that the first two major institutions to become partially integrated in America after the war were the US Army and the musical and dance industry. While President Truman has accomplished the first goal by an executive order, in the latter case our generation of high school students had voluntarily sought to incorporate African American music into our lives. Rather than ignoring or segregating African song and dance culture, the teenage generation of the 1960s eagerly embraced it.

Why and how did this change occur? Part of the answer lies with technology. As American electronics led to the growth of radio stations in the 1950s, young Americans became aware for the first time of both African American and Country western music. In contrast to the bland tunes of the crooners and the playbook of Tin Pan Alley, young Americans kids found this new ethnic kind of music appealing.

Why the Appeal of a New Culture

What was the cause of this appeal? The answer appears to be three fold. First Rock and Roll was a musical genre that people loved to dance to. However, when the Big Bands became financially impossible to maintain at the end of World War II, Americans lacked both the opportunity as well as a type of music they could dance to. The crooners who replaced the Big Bands at the end of war sang bland romantic ballads that were great to listen to if you wanted a serene quiet afternoon. But their style of music rarely stimulated anyone to spend the evening on the dance floor. However, as more and more young people attended school, they wanted a chance to dance the night away with their new dates. That was a desire that Rock and Roll easily satisfied.

Secondly, the new music of the 1960s seemed to meet an emotional need for many teenagers that most conventional American songs lacked.  If you happened to read an excellent comment by Kurli Thompson several months back, she mentioned that when she taught high school her students often seemed like they were the walking wounded. But probably for every generation, including ours in the 1960s, many teenagers felt like they were the walking wounded as they struggled to adjust to high school life. Also many of us were hoping to find a soul mate to share the difficulties of growing up. But aside from a few success stories, most high school romances failed, leaving people feeling isolated and alone. But fortunately in listening to Rock and Roll music many young teenagers found a sense of solace and peace of mind that they often could not find with their parents or even close friends. 

If you look at the titles of major Rock and Roll songs in the sixties, they include By By Love, That Will Be the Day, Breaking My HeartWhen Will I Be Loved?, and Only the Strong Survive.

Regardless of what emotion you were feeling after a bad breakup, there was also a Rhythm and Blues or Rock and  Roll song that consoled you by expressing that exact feeling in its lyrics.

Thirdly part of the appeal of this new form of music may reflect the fact that a whole generation of young kids who were struggling to grow up, often felt restrained by the more conservative tastes of their parents whose life often seemed too restricted or restrained. For young people who were trying to fit in with society while simultaneously trying to rebel against the monotony of adult society, the novelty and unusual beat of African American music seemed appealing. While modern American life stressed moderation and restraint, rhythm and blues stressed liberation, energy and a more intense way of living life. 

Before our generation knew it, a young Scotch Irish singer from Memphis, named Elvis Presley, tried to combine the best of Country music and African American music to create rock and roll. The music electrified young people and often scared their parents who often did not know what to make of this new music and its racial overtones. 

Prior to the 1970s, American music had been dominated by the Germans who in the 17th to the 19th century had developed Baroque, Classical and Romantic forms of music. In addition, most of the modern musical instruments such as the clarinet, saxophone, trumpet and piano were invented by Europeans. At the turn of the century most American cities, which had been heavily influenced by the German musical tradition, established brass bands, as exemplified in the movie “The Music Man”.

However in the 1950s and 60s we see a major shift in American popular culture as we witness both the Africanization of American music and the Americanization of African Music. As we shall soon see, African Americans and the Scotch Irish, who had been marginal players in American society, soon came to play a dominate role in shaping American culture. 

A New Synthesis of African and American Culture

The new synthesis of contrasting musical styles was first seen during the 1920s when Jazz became popular. While Africa developed this new genre of music, they used European woodwind and horn instruments in the development of Jazz. Later in the 1960s African music was further Americanized when blacks developed the Blues in the Delta region of northern Mississippi which morphed into R&B or Rhythm and the Blues.  While the phrasing and tempo of the music were all based on traditional African tunes, the Blues artists, like their Jazz counterparts, adopted western instruments to play their music. The guitar, which is the heart of most R&B as well as Rock and Roll bands, originated in Spain and had been introduced in this country by the Scotch Irish who used it in the creation of Country music.

The New Stress on Rhythm

But the synthesis of different musical tradition was not one sided. As we shall see later, American music was also significantly Africanized, especially rock and roll. Whereas as traditional western music has spent much of its history stressing harmony, and melody African music was unique in its stress on rhythm. 

The Development of Syncopation

But equally importantly while African America music was noted for stressing rhythms, it was also famous for its unusual rhythms. This process which is called syncopation involves playing rhythms that accent or emphasize the offbeats. For instance, if a song had a 4/4 time signature you would normally stress the first and third beat. However, in much of Rhythm and Blues music as well as Rock and Roll, the musicians emphasize the second and fourth beat. 

Multi Complex Rhythms

Finally as Rhythms and Blues evolved over time into new genres like Funk, African American artists like James Brown developed a form of Rhythm and Blues music that was also characterized by multi rhythms or polyrhythms. In contrast to traditional western music black music increasingly had unusual and complex rhythm patterns that seemed to infuse a sense of life and excitement into their music. This stress on rhythm made black music very appealing to any young people who wanted to kick up their heels and dance.

To appreciate the appeal of rhythm for anyone listening to music today, all you have to do is hear Michael Jackson’s song Beat It or Billie Jean or James Brown rendering of Living In America to understand why Rhythm and Blues and its stress on a pounding beat was so popular to young people.

 Non Western African Americn Dances

Similarly whereas western music had seen music and dance as two separate forms of entertainment, African Americans combined them. While singing groups like Beetles or crooners like Barbara Streisand appeared stationary and erect as they belted out their tunes, singing groups from Motown to Michael Jackson combined music and dance which excited young audiences. Elvis Presley, who synthesized black and white music was also notorious for his swiveled hip dancing, which often shocked middle America with his novel dance steps.

Besides the dance moves of Black artists, African American singers gave the younger generation a whole new array of dance steps that significantly departed from the stress on couple dancing popular in western music. In place of western dances like the Waltz, which emphasized dances by couples, African American culture popularized communal dances like the Stroll, which was performed on every episode of American Bandstand. Yet other black artists like Chubby Checker also popularized individual dances like the Twist and a countless array of spinoffs of that dance such as the Jerk, the Pony the Watusi and even the Mash Potato. While teenagers in the Age of the Crooners found the ballads of people like Perry Como hard to dance to, black music of the 50s and 60s energized teenagers and made them eager to dance again. Although Kevin Bacon’s movie “Footloose” was made in the 1980s, it perhaps likewise captured that mood of teenagers in the decade we graduated from McClatchy. 

By the time the 1970s finally arrived there had been a dramatic change in American popular culture. Two ethnic and racial groups, African Americans and Scotch Irish, who had been on the margins of American society, were now dominant forces in shaping popular culture. In the 1970s as sporting events came to rival music in defining popular culture in American life, blacks but not the Scotch Irish, also came to play a highly visible role in this new dimension of American culture.

                                        The Growth of the Entertainment Age

Finally a third way in which our generation helped dramatically transformed America was in its impact on the economy. As we noted in an earlier post, the start of the 20thcentury is called the “Industrialized Age”.  Unfortunately, in the 1970s America began a process of deindustrialization which led to the loss of many working class jobs. 

Prior to the 1960s economists saw the American economy as consisting of three legs, 1) finance, 2) service and 3) manufacturing. In the 1970s the third leg of the economy had declined as America reduce its tariffs and embraced globalization. 

However, offsetting the above negative development was the creation of two more innovative ages in the middle of the 20th century. Economists tend to call these new ages the rise of the Information Age as well as the Entertainment Age in America. While the 19th and early 20th century was transformed by the rise of manufacturing, the latter part of the 20th century was transformed by the rise of Silicon Valley and the Entertainment Industry, two new industries which have dramatically altered how we currently live our lives today. 

In place of a three legged economy we now had a five legged economy where information and entertainment complemented the operations of the service, finance and industrial sectors of the economy.

How this New Age Benefitted Minorities

Aside from diversifying the economy, the above changes had dramatic consequences for minority groups. The growth of these two new legs of the economy has dramatically enhanced the opportunities for upward mobility for both Asian Americans and African Americans. While the growth of the Information Age has created numerous job opportunities for the Asian community in Silicon valey, the growth of the New Entertainment Age has primarily benefited African Americas in the sports and entertainment world. 

Whereas the traditional ethnic groups such as the English, Germans, Jewish and Irish had come to dominate the early American economy, minorities such as Asians and African Americans were dominating these two new elements in our economy,  

For instance, while Asians makeup 7% of the present American population, over 50% of the employees in Silicon Valley are now Asian Americans. In many cases they occupy the most prestigious positions instance in this new industry. For instance, the CEOs of both Micro soft and Google are both immigrants from India. 

In a similar vein African Americans have now come to dominate professional sports as well as the music industry. Whether it was the numerous stars of Motown, or Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin merging Black Gospel music and Rhythm and Blues to create Soul music, Black artists were key figures in creating popular music. Even when white artists appeared to create new genres of rock music, much of their musical phrasing and rhythms were heavily influenced by black inspired Rhythm and Blues. For instance, the Beatles, who were part of the British invasion of Music life, felt so frustrated over their inability to duplicate the appeal of black music, that they good naturedly named one of their albums Rubber Soul, a failed attempt to duplicate Black Soul music.

As our economy has taken on new directions, minority groups who were often on the periphery of American society have financially prospered as they now appear to have met the information and entertainment needs of the American public.

 

                  


12/06/23 01:03 PM #452    

 

Bill Kelso

                                            (4)                                    

                                   A Summing Up

                How Our Generation Reshaped America

In light of the above developments, we have to realize that whether it is our McClatchy classmates getting on David’s website to learn about our reunions or senior citizens downloading tunes from Spotify for their workout at the local gym, our generation helped ushed in a new American economy that has been preoccupied with entertaining us and making our lives enjoyable. 

While we did not realize it when we turned 18, the new youth culture of the 1960s played a key role in the development of both this Entertainment Age as well as the growth of a more tolerant and racially integrated society. 

The Jazz Age & The Rock and Roll Age

Despite the distinctive 40 years that separate the two periods, many want to compare the Jazz Age with our own Rock and Roll Age. 

In both cases, the age was defined by the development of a youth culture, primarily people in their early 20s for the Jazz Age and a slightly younger teenage population during our high school days. In both situations young people served in the army to fight in WWI during the Jazz Age and later participated in the Vietnam War during the 1960s. Similarly, both time periods were identified with the creation of novel forms of music: Jazz in the 1920s and Rhythm and Blues as well as Rock and Roll in the 1960s. Both ages also led to excesses as flappers spent too much time getting drunk in speakeasies while too many of our peers acquired addictive drug habits limiting their future opportunities. 

However, despite the superficial similarities, I want to argue that the two major youth cultures were very different. 

While novelists like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway felt that the Jazz Age was a failure they often focused on different explanation for that failure. In Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises” he felt those who had fought in the war had become disillusioned and were a lost generation without direction or purpose. However, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel “The Great Gatsby” he suggested that the failure of the Jazz Age reflected the age’s belief that the selfish pursuit of making money would somehow give shape and form to their sense of emptiness.

The Differences between the Two Ages.

While the 1960s has never had a novelist comparable to Hemingway or Fitzgerald to describe our teenage years, we can nevertheless identify key differences. First the young people who came of age in the 60s were neither disillusioned nor lost. They were often critical of their country’s foreign or racial policies but they were hardly young people who lacked direction or purpose.

But even more importantly the Rock and Roll generation of the 1960s were radically different from the flappers and young people Fitzgerald described. With the growth of the hippie generation at the end of the 60s, the youth culture of the Rock and Roll was more idealistic than overly materialistic. In place of believing that making more money would provide them with a fulfilling life, they sought to build a more egalitarian and humane world. While many of their notions about achieving peace and brotherhood were naïve, their outlook on life was very different from that of the Jazz Age. 

Admittedly there was a self destructive tendency among many young people in the 1960s as Timothy Leary’s advice to Tune in, Turn on, Drop Out lead many young people astray.

Similarly, the 1960s had its faults as it witnessed a rising crime rate, the breakdown of the family, a growing number of children born out of wedlock who were abandoned by their fathers, and a flawed set of government policies called the "Great Society" to end poverty which actually increased rather than decreased the rate of poverty, But these faults were the consequences of inept prosecutors, and poorly designed government programs rather than the faults of our youth culture.

Without minimizing the faults of the Rock and Roll Age, I want to argue that the expansive teenage population of the 1960s had a much more lasting and benign impact on American life than the Jazz Age.

Our class can be proud of its legacy as it promoted a popular music culture that has swept the world and embraced a more tolerant and diverse society that has enabled previously marginal groups to achieve upward mobility. And it helped to diversity our economy which enabled America to become more resilient as our manufacturing sector faltered in the 70s. In this sense our McClatchy class was not only affected by changing national events, but also helped initiate and shape these national developments in a positive direction. As our time as a class approaches the end, we can be proud of our achievements as American teenagers.

 


03/04/24 06:19 AM #453    

 

Bill Kelso

                  The Changing Nature of Western Music

In a pervious discussion about how life has changed since we graduated from high school, we mentioned that African Americans have come to play a dominant role in shaping American music. It started in the 1920s with the creation of Jazz, expanded in the 50s and 60s with the development of Rhythm and Blues and was further enhanced in the 70s and 80s as Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin combined Black Gospel music with Rhythm and Blues to create Soul Music.

Among its many features was its stress on complex rhythms and its fusion of music and dance.

However in the late 1980s Paul Simon discovered than an even better example of African American influence on music was to be found in Brazil with its nationally known Samba or Samba Reggae Music.

The country had unusual Samba Bands made up of only flamboyant drummers who played even more complex rhythms than American rhythm and blues. Whereas western music had stressed melody and harmony, Brazilian music is famous for its remarkable emphasis on rhythm.

The Brazilian experience was so notable that later Michael Jackson also went to Brazil to film his video of “Nobody Cares About Us”

Both of these video have become very popular videos as well as classic examples of how African Americans contributed to the growth of popular music.

Michael Jackson in Rio

Paul Simon Singing “The Obvious child” in Brazil

In addition to the videos of famous American singers performing in Brazil, many local residents have also posted videos of Brazilian bands entertaining their neighbors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyTdnj0eulo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvRjL017oUo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3o30YJiWsc

Brazilian culture has many attractive features. For instance, you often see the above pattern of behavior in Brazil because music and dance plays a much larger role in the lives of Brazilians than it does for most Americans. While most Americans are more circumspect and restrained in their everyday lives. Brazilians see music as part their desire to live a more spontaneous and effusive lifestyle.

Brazilians are also a demonstrative and outgoing people who place a lot of emphasis on maintaining friendship and expressing their common sense of joy in being alive by dancing and singing with one another. Unlike many Americans who are more cavalier and indifferent about their relationships, Brazilians stress the use of music to enhance and cement their personal ties. During carnival you can hear and see Samba dance bands like those shown above on almost every other street corner in Rio as Brazilians hug one another and dance the night away.

Despite their much lower standard of living, Brazilians also seem to have a knack for knowing how to enjoy life.

If you want to hear some great music as well as appreciate the impact of African music on popular music, try watching the above videos.  You shouuld be able to just hit the videolink and get the  video. If that does not work, just copy the above addresses and put them in your search engine, hit the enter button and you should be able to watch some fascinating musical videos. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


03/05/24 04:35 AM #454    

 

Bill Kelso

                One More Fabulous Braziian Band

Here is one more wonderfu Brazilian Band. It seems like almost every other Brazilian owns a drum. Brazil has so many Samba dance bands, many of them dominated by women.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyTia863Be0


03/06/24 08:46 AM #455    

 

Bonnie De Angelis (Stormont)

Awesome sauce!!  I love this!  🎵. Thanks for posting Bill!


03/06/24 03:47 PM #456    

 

Barbara Alexander

Hi Bill. I've been enjoying your contributions to these pages. Lots of interesting info that I didn't know. I especially enjoy your posts on music. Fascinating! Thanks, Barbara


03/06/24 09:08 PM #457    

Susie Weidman (Arnold)

Bill, thanks for sharing this wonderful music.  You and Linda were fortunate to have just been in Brazil and to see and listen in person to this wonderful music. 🥁🎶. Susie


03/20/24 09:41 AM #458    

 

Bill Kelso

                           Our Lives During the 1960s 

As our time grows short, it is natural to contemplate what our life has been like. To achieve that goal, I would like to focus on two separate issues. First, I would like to spend more time on how our individual lives changed during the 1960s.

 

After that discussion, I would like to try to sum up all of the major changes that happened in the US over the last 60 years. In that post I would hope to look at international and economic issues and analyze how the country has changed over the past decades.

 

                                 Creating a New Identity

 

Before looking at the major changes in the US, it might be helpful to briefly review our life as high school students.  As noted earlier we had classmates from very different ethnic backgrounds, even thought we were not necessarily conscious of that fact. In living our lives, most of us had no notion of where we came from or what our ethnic heritage was. 

 

However, in the second post we discussed how in the 1960s the US developed its first large scale teenage population. As ethnic differences declined, generational differences became apparent. While age differences were generally muted, our high school generation nonetheless had a different outlook on life than our grandparents and parents.  Because I thought of myself as a teenager I felt I was at least partly aware of the larger world outside of high school. I just had no idea that in previous decades our age cohort in the US was considered young adults rather than teenagers and that the idea of being an adolescent was a rather recent and novel idea. Furthermore, I also never realized that our musical tastes as teenagers helped usher in the age of Civil Rights.

 

                         How Our Eating Habits Dramatically Changed.

 

In this post I want to show how our age also experienced another major fundamental change in our lifestyle that we were completely unaware of.  That dramatic change consisted of a radically shift in our eating preferences. Besides our musical taste, and personal identity, our eating habits significantly changed during our teenager years and helped define our age. While it may be a slight exaggeration the 1960s to the 70s are today known as the Age of the Hamburger. Again, this idea may seem so obvious you may be wondering why I am bringing it up. 

 

For much of the 19th and early 20th century many people in the US were not well fed. The tenement houses in large cities were made up of immigrants who just barely found enough to eat. During the Great Depression of the 1930s many people came close to starving to death. If you managed to read John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath” which reflected his experiences working with the displaced during the Great Depression, he ends the novel with a poor pregnant women breast feeding a starving individual close to death who was a complete stranger. 

 

The novel was so shocking because people did not realize how desperate so many people were. If people in American ate meat during the 19th century it was primarily pigs while few ate beef let alone hamburgers.  The reason for this decision was that the pig was very well suited to the woodland environment of 19th century America. It was thus easy to raise hogs as they matured very quickly and required little care. In addition, given the available, technology, pork meat could be easily smoked or cured. Since pork tasted much better than beef processed in this way, most Americans, if they could afford to buy meat, chose to eat pork rather than beef.

 

                                  The Growing Popularity of Beef

 

However by the end of the 19th century the emphasis shifted from pork to beef. There were three main reasons for this change. First, the buffalo had been largely killed off by 1870s which finally opened the great plains to cattlemen. In light of the free grass on the plains the costs of raising beef declined significantly. Secondly as railroads expanded and created refrigerator boxcars, it was possible to ship beef to all parts of the country. Thirdly as the economy finally expanded and the country financially rebounded from the Great Depression during WWII, American could afford to eat meat again. Presently close to half of the beef currently consumed is ground beef. 

 

When German immigrants thought of enclosing processed beef in a bun, which they named after their German hometown of Hamburg Germany, we finally had the hamburger.

 

Given the new prosperity and technology of supplying beef to people, beef consumption dramatically rose. In 1963 it hit 78 lbs. per capita and in 1976 it hits its high point of 97 lbs. per capital. American had become the home of the hamburger.

 

                                 How Chicken Replaced the Burger

 

However no sooner had beef come to dominate America’s eating habits,  beef began a dramatic decline. By 2020 beef consumption had decline to 58 to 59 lbs. per capital. In its place was the rise of the chicken. While Americans only ate 34 lbs.in 1963 they were consuming around 80 lbs. in 2020.

                     

                                 Meat Consumption

Beef                       1963                      1974                        2020

                               78lbs.                      97lbs.                      58lbs.

 

Chicken                    1963                   1974                         2020

                                 34lbs.                   44lbs.                       80lbs.

 

Besides hamburger restaurants like MacDonalds and Wendy’s we now have chicken restaurants like Kentucky Fried Chicken, Chick-Fil-A, Zaxbys, Popeyes, and Bojangles.

 

 Why the change? The answers may have to do with both health reasons and environmental reasons. In medical terms many nutritionists think eating too much red meat may eventually lead to heart problems. In terms of the environment many environmentalist disliked cows because they have a much bigger carbon footprint than chickens. Because cows do not have a well-tuned digestive system they fart a lot releasing in the process methane gas.

 

                                   The Importance of the Journey

 

While our class initiated many reforms in American life, our desire to eat hamburgers is turning out to be a passing phenomenon.

 

To put this discussion into a larger context I would like to mention how several months back I exchanged letters with Lettie Joe Thommen about the number of our classmates and friends who have passed away. Lettie, in a very perceptive moment, replied that we should not necessarily despair because for all of us the key was not the destination that was important as we were all destined to die. Instead it was the journey we took that really mattered. Lettie's wonderful comment was so right. As we get older, we must realize that we have had an interesting journey while we were young students in Sacramento.

 

As you can see our high school class lead a unique life style that differed significantly from our parents and grandparents. If we just review our high school years, our McClatchy class of 1963 had:

 

1) Its own unique identity as we one of the first group of young people to lose our ethnic identity since we were fortunate enough to live in a Melting Pot City,

2) We were also part of the first major youth group in the US that thought of themselves as teenagers with a separate identity.  

3) We were likewise the first generation to enjoy privacy in dating, 

4) Similarly, we were a major part of the first generation that accepted and eagerly embraced the creation of an integrated racial society. 

5) We had parents, who in becoming more affluent, allowed us to buy our own radio or record player.

6) Many of us were able to move from a 900 square foot Bungalow house to a 1400 square foot Ranch style house where we had our own room. If lucky we even lived in a house with one and a half baths, which meant that we did not have to yell at our sisters in the morning to hurry up because we had to go to the bathroom. 

7) We also played a major role in promoting a novel form of music that our parents called race music but which we designate as rhythm and blues. However, we more often than not had to listen to our parents telling us our music was too loud and to turn it down.

8) Finally, we were the first generation of Americans to enjoy a great Hamburger. I still remember my first hamburger at the MacDonalds stand where you sat outside across from the old Sacramento Solon’s baseball stadium. The hamburger cost 25cents and the coke cost 5 cents. When my family went to watch the Solons play, I never could make up my mind whether it was the baseball game or eating out at MacDonalds that was the most enjoyable moment during our family outing.

 

If we had to pick a top three from the above list, I, as a parochial kid in the 1960s with a limited knowledge of the outside world, would probably have included the privacy of dating while driving dad’s car, listening to great R & B music and thirdly eating great hamburgers at MacDonalds. 

 

Wow? Even if you disagree with my list, all of the above events are wonderful memories. In retrospect, who could ask for more of an interesting life that began in the 1960s and is now only coming to a close.  

 

While admittedly we can’t change our destiny, we should at least be thankful that we had an interesting and enjoyable journey during our teenager years. 

 

 


03/29/24 09:37 AM #459    

 

Bill Kelso

            The Origins of the Hamburger & Hot Dog

 

After the recent discussion of our eating habits in the 1960s I was asked if I would elaborate on the origins of the American Hamburger. 

 

How German Americans Shaped our Eating Habits.

 

I am happy to do so as the question of the origins of much of our food and drink is an interesting piece of American social history. While the topic of food may seem like an obscure topic in American history, it is actually a way of understanding the much larger historical issue of how America became an immigrant nation, shaped and developed by a diverse group of people from very different countries. 

 

In the case of understanding the American hamburger it is helpful to focus on the role German Americans played in forming our eating habits. Ironically enough, if there is an iconic American food, I think most people would say it is the Hamburger and Hotdog but it turns out that these two iconic American foods are really the creation of ethnic German immigrants in America. 

 

How our Eating Habits reflect larger Trends in American Society

 

Bu it is not surpringing that immigrants have played such a prominent role in shaping our eating habits. As it turns out the Germans before they invented the hamburger were also instrumental in creating the beer industry in America. And as an offshoot of that drink, German American also transformed American baseball into a mass popular sport. 

 

However, as we mentioned above, this story is worth retelling in more detail because of the often long and convoluted steps Germans American had to undertake to alter our food preferences including our taste for beer. In the process we can also see how early Germans, like many other ethnic groups in America, faced intense prejudice. While most American probably realize that immigrants faced opposition because of their ethnic background, we shall see that German immigrants were also dismissed because of their alleged lower class or working class lifestyle. 

 

Germans and the Beer Industry

 

In spite of these challenges, the record of German Americans is impressive in overcoming the difficulties they faced in being accepted by many other Americans. Among other reasons for their initial hostile reception, were their unusual social customs. For instance, when the Germans landed in America they brought with them their long tradition of drinking beer, a spirit few Americans initially drank. The reason for this tradition is that in 19th Europe drinking water was often unsanitary and as a result the French drank wine and the Germans enjoyed beer. 

 

Since most Germans settled in the Midwestern part of the US, that region was the home of most American beer companies.  In Milwaukee, the cultural capitol of German America we find the development of Pabst, Schlitz and Miller and in St Louse, another major German city in the middle of America, we find the creation of Anheuser Busch.

 

However during the Temperance movement, the Germans faced a major movement to limit the drinking of intoxicating spirits in America.

 

How German Immigrants Made Baseball a Working Man’s Game

 

Among their successes, the temperance movement succeeded in banning beer from popular sporting events such as professional baseball. At the turn of the century baseball was becoming the major sport in America. But at that time the owners of the original National League of Baseball were wealthy members of the upper class who wanted to confine the enjoyment of the sport to the upper class. To limit enjoyment of the game, they raised the price of a ticket to a baseball game and prohibited all liquor sales in the stadium. By and large they were successful in keeping what they felt was the rabble or working class out of their ballparks.  But the actions of the major league owners should not surprise us. The German working class as well as other ethnic members of the working class who has few privileges in life, were often looked down by the upper class. Unfortunately economic as well as ethnic snobbery was a major part of life for the average American in the early 20th century.

 

When the baseball teams banned beer drinking and raised their prices to keep the working class out of the ballpark, the German beer industry decided to launch a populist revolt against their upper-class opponents. If the upper classes shunned the working class, the Germany beer industry would create an alternative baseball league that welcomed ethnic blue collar workers and respected their tradition of beer drinking. To achieve that goal the German beer owners, in what is today known and the Beer and Whisky League, created the American League in baseball to compete with the National League. As was to be expected the new league included many teams from primarily German cities like St. Louise and Cincinnati. 

 

The German beer industry launched this new sporting venture because they believed that baseball should be for the masses and not just the wealthy elites. And they also insisted that the working class should be able to relax and enjoy a beer while watching their favorite past time. Because of their efforts, the upper class National Baseball League was eventually forced to lower its ticket prices and allow beer to be sold in their ballparks. 

 

The success of Germans in popularizing baseball encouraged a large number of young men from German families to participate in the sport. In fact in the early 20th century the most famous ball players were primarily Germans such as Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Lou Gehrig and Casey Stengel.

 

The Germans Invent the Hamburger and Hot Dog

 

However, the impact of German Americans on America’s culinary habits was not just limited to drink. They also played a key role in making the American hamburger a major staple in the American diet. In the process they challenged and modified not only what we ate but how we ate our food.

 

The Long Twisted History of the Hamburger

 

If you review the previous discussion of America’s eating habits, we explained the rise of beef as due to environmental and economic factors such as the emptying out of the great plains that allowed cattle to graze in the heartland in place of the American buffalo, the rise of refrigerator railroad cars and the growing affluence of America. But that discussion left three unanswered questions about the eating habits of Americans. First, in that discussion of beef there was no explanation as to why Americans chose to eat their meat minced or ground up and secondly there was no satisfactory reason as to why Americans wrapped that ground beef in a bun. Finally, there was no answer as to why the iconic American food of the 1960s and 70s is called the Hamburger. In a related manner there was no hint as to why Americans also came to call their sausages wrapped in a bun a hot dog, 

 

The Development of Minced Meat

 

While half of all beef in the 70s as well as today is ground beef, Americans could just as easily have chosen to eat filets, rib stake, sirloin or countless other forms of beef. Why then did they choose to eat minced meat or what we called ground beef, that is beef that has been finely cut up by a knife or a meat grinder?

 

The answer lies with the large German immigration population in the US. It is important to remember that German Americans are the largest ethnic group in America with close to 50 million members. Just as Germans had a long tradition of drinking beer, they had an equally long tradition of eating minced or ground beef. Historically Germans have always consumed sausage as a major part of their diet. To make a sausage you need finely ground meat. If we had never had such a large German immigrant population, we would probably have been less inclined to adopt their customs of eating ground beef as a major source of protein.

 

But while minced meat for German sausages was long and slender in shape, their use ground round for hamburgers had the shape of a horizontal and flattened disk. While many explanations for this development in German cuisine are speculative in nature, many think the Germans acquired the idea of a flat hamburger patty from the Mongolians during the Middle Age. The Mongolian soldiers of Genghis Khan often put beef under their saddle while they traveled long distance to attack their enemies.  In the process they unintentionally flattened and cut up the beef under their saddle. When the Mongolians conquered part of Europe, many individuals in Germany found their beef dishes easy to swallow especially if they cooked the patty. 

 

The Origins of the Name Hamburger

 

While the above theory is hard to definitely prove, it leaves unanswered the issue of why German American in the US decided to call the patty a hamburger. The answer has everything to do with geography. Hamburg which is on the river Elbe was one of the main destinations Germans used to board ships in order to migrate to America. It is thus very possible that when German immigrants ate traditional German food in America, they named it after their last home in their native country.

 

The Origins of the Bun

 

But if we accept the above reasons for the name of a hamburger, we are left with the final question as to why the meat was wrapped in a bun. Perhaps not surprisingly, the final piece of the puzzle brings us back to the topic of baseball. When German beer owners created their own baseball teams, they found out that their customers wanted to eat something as well as drink beer. To satisfy that wish they tried offering them beef patties. But since working class people did not bring forks and knives to the ballpark, German venders started wrapping the hamburger patty in a bun, creating in the process the American hamburger with two buns, a beef insert and mustard or ketchup. It quickly became apparent that the development of the American bun was a very simple and practical solution for feeding a lot of people who had no kitchen utensils. 

 

The reason why hamburgers are wrapped in a bun also explains why hot dogs are wrapped in a bun. In German owned baseball parks, German venders started selling German sausages as well as beef patties. But to hold a hot dog was a very unpleasant experience. As with the case of the hamburger patty, the Germans venders in baseball parks realized that they could make selling their sausages more attractive and profitable if they wrapped them in a long vertical bun.

 

The Origins of the Name Hot Dog

 

But that still leaves unclear why Americans call German sausages hotdogs? Initially Germans tended to call their sausages by their city of origins, similar in manner to the reason why German Americans named a hamburger after the city of Hamburg. Because in Medieval Europe German sausage was initially made in the City of Frankfurt and consisted of primarily ground pork, people refereed to the sausage as a Frankfurter. Once other Germans in the Austrian city of Vienna changed the menu and added beef to the sausage, many people in Germany started referring to their sausages as Wieners (the German pronunciation of Vienna which is Wien) rather than Frankfurters.

 

German immigrants in America initially adopted a similar naming procedure as they also called their sausages Wieners while selling their wares in ballparks.  However with time, German sausages acquired the nickname of hot dogs. The reason German venders used such a nickname reflects the pets they brought to the new home in America.

 

Germans, more any other ethnic group were responsible for introducing many of our most popular dog breeds in the US including the German Shepard, the Doberman Pincher, the Rottweiler, The Great Dane, as well as the Dachshund. The latter dog was bred to have short longs and long snout to hunt down and kill badgers in their dens.

 

When German vendors were selling their product, they noticed their sausage in a bun resembled their dachshund. As a joke they initially starting calling their product a hot dachshund but since many early German immigrants had trouble remembering how to spell dachshund they finally settled on the simpler nickname Hot Dog.

 

Why it Took a While for Hamburgers and Hot Dogs to gain Acceptance.

 

Given the appeal of beef and the convenience of eating a hamburger or a hot dog in a bun, these German forms of cuisine were a big hit in baseball parks. Unfortunately, it took a considerable period of time before the American hamburger became popular in the country at large. While German venders had considerable success in selling hamburgers and hot dogs to their customers in the ball park, they had less luck in convincing many other Americans to try their new German dishes. The answer for this reluctance reflects the often hostile reaction immigrants encountered in America. 

 

In the late 19th and early 20th century the wealthy upper class often felt they were gentlemen who distinguished themselves from the lower classes  who dominated immigrant communities by not only their money, and education but also by their polished manners. The last thing a gentlemen would ever do would be to eat his meals with his fingers rather than with a fork and knife. Just as a member of the upper class would never eat with his mouth open, he also knew how to use his eating utensils so that meals were a dignified occasion. In contrast, a person could go a MacDonald and eat both his hamburger and fries without ever touching a fork and knife. It was very clear that hamburgers and hot dogs were lower or working  class forms of cuisine and lacked appeal to many members of the financial elite.

 

Life as an Immigrant and Member of the Working Class.

 

The difficulty the hamburger initially faced in being accepted was a reflection of the situation that faced many immigrants in the period before WWII. 

 

If you recall a previous discussion we had on college life in the early 20th century, we mentioned how many Ivy League Universities, who catered to the very wealthy, looked down on the children of neighborhoods like Hells kitchen or Little Italy or the Lower East side and often agreed to establish “Gentlemen Agreements” to limit immigrant enrollment.  In a similar vein the initial owners of baseball clubs were eager to limit the ability of German workingmen to afford a ticket to a baseball game. Likewise their reluctance to embrace so called German food was also part of a general reaction by the wealthy and nativist group towards the growth of the immigrant population in America.

 

Today in some circles there is an attempt to depict all immigrant groups who came to this country as affluent individuals who enjoyed numerous privileges, faced limited obstacles and had an easy time being accepted in America. Unfortunately, the opposition is a more accurate description of the situation. Many immigrant groups were harshly treated and had to deal with numerous forms of discrimination.

 

Fortunately, most immigrants like the Germans, Irish, Italians and Jews to this country were resilient and refused to think of themselves as victims. Rather than passively accepting their fate, they worked hard to enhance their chances of success in America. As the size of the immigrant populations grew, they pressured states and cities to build city colleges and state universities so that the children of immigrant families could attend college if they so wanted to. When wealthy businessmen tried to limit the attendance of the working class at baseball games, German beer owners created their own league and lowered the prices to accommodate the working class. Finally, as the immigrant population grew, the popularity of eating hamburgers or hot dogs with your hands spread from the working class to the middle class and finally to the upper class. While eating with your hands and fingers was once a sign of poor manners, today it is considered a convenient way of enjoying a favorite American cuisine.

 

The rise of the hamburger and hot dog illustrates how America became truly a nation of immigrants. Despite many obstacles in their path, German immigrants who were very resourceful, helped to modify the eating habits of America, and in the process shaped the country we live in today. But that success and acceptance did not come over night. However, by the 1960s the impact of the German Americans was readily apparent. As a sign of both their individual success and impact on America, their hamburgers and hot dogs had finally become part of the culture identity that today distinguishes America from other nations.

 

  


04/02/24 03:15 PM #460    

 

Bill Kelso

               What the Future Holds for California   

          In case you are interested in what is happening in California, I have posted a demographic study of California’s future population. The following article examined the US Census Bureau ‘s recent study of demographic changes in the country, including changes in the last three years of the state of California as well as an estimate of the state’s future population. As you can see the Census Bureau is projecting significant changes in the number of congressional seats that California will have by 2030.

 The Changing Population of the US. An Article from Website Real Clear Politics  

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its population estimates for this decade and estimated its impact on the upcoming decennial reapportionment (yes, believe it or not, we are almost halfway through the 2020s).

The census is, at least in theory, a complete enumeration of the American population. It is the first and last word on who is living in the United States – and where – and on how all those people are translated into seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the interim, however, the Census Bureau conducts the American Community Survey, or ACS. This is an ongoing sample of the U.S. population, which contacts millions of people each year in an attempt to estimate the ever-changing demographics of American society.

The Future Makeup of Congress

In December, the Census Bureau releases population estimates for the 50 states. These give us an opportunity to form educated guesses about where reapportionment is headed. Based on this new data from 2023, if the reapportionment occurred today, California would lose two congressional seats, while Illinois, Minnesota and New York would each lose one. On the gains side, Arizona, Florida, and Idaho would each gain a seat, while Texas would gain two.

But these are the 2023 estimates; they reflect population growth for the first three years of the decade. What would things look like in 2030 if things proceeded apace?

If these trends continue at their current rates, the 2030 reapportionment would have some of the most dramatic district apportionment shifts in quite some time. Eighteen states would gain or lose districts. California would lose five seats in the House, while New York would lose three. Illinois would lose two, and Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin would all lose one.

At the same time, Texas and Florida would each gain four seats, while Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah would each gain one. Delaware would gain a second district for the first time since the early 1800s.

 


04/03/24 08:38 AM #461    

 

Carol (Kurli) Thompson (Mack)

Maybe the shift in population will turn these states purple.


04/05/24 08:55 AM #462    

 

Bill Kelso

                       What is our Historical Legacy?

           A Summing Up

Over the past year and a half I have tried to write a series of posts for our high school website about how the world had changed since we were young kids. However I quickly realized that I had posted so many notes that maybe it was hard  to remember all of the dramatic change we had witnessed in our lives.

To simplify and hopefully make more sense of these postings, I thought I would try to summarize in one article what has happened to our country during our lifetime. If you wanted to get a quick overview of how the world had evolved, this brief note would hopefully make it easier to remember the major events of the last 60 years. 

To achieve this goal, I have posted two distinct types of history on David’s website. 

Focusing on our High School Days

In the first type of history, I have tried to write about our teenager years during the 1960s. These posts have talked about our what life was like growing up in Sacramento as a teenager. Both Patrick Hassey and Kurli Thompson have provided the inspiration for this concern.  A while back Patrick mentioned that he wanted to talk to his son about growing up in the 1960s, and Kurli mentioned in one of her posts that she enjoyed discussing with her grandchildren her activities as a teenager. In remembering our teenage years we focused on the following six topics that shaped our high school experience:

1.   First, we were one of the first groups of young people who lost our ethnic identity because we lived in a Melting Pot City. Unlike individuals from enclave cities, members of our class who did not grow up in ethnic neighborhoods like Hell’s kitchen or Little Italy, were often unaware of their own ethnic heritage or even the meaning of their own surnames.

2.   Secondly were also part of the first major youth group to identity and subsequently think of themselves as teenagers with a separate culture.

3.   Thirdly, we likewise were the first generation to enjoy privacy in dating as the affluence of our parents enabled us to borrow the family car when seeing the opposite sex.

4.   Fourthly we were also part of that first generation that accepted and eagerly embraced the creation of an integrated racial society.

5.   Fifthly we were also part of that early generation of music lovers who played a major role in promoting novel forms of music today known as Rhythm and Blues and Rock and Roll.

6.   Finally, we were part of the first generation of Americans who enjoyed and popularized the idea of the Hamburger. Besides being part of the Rock and Roll Age, our McClatchy generation helped promote the development of the Hamburger age.

Focusing on our Post High School Days

Besides discussing primarily our high school experience during the 1960s, I also tried to write a second type of history that took a longer historical view. This perspective tried to analyze the social and economic changes that have occurred in American during our entire lifetime. 

Whereas the above posts about the 1960s focused on six or seven years in our earlier lives when we were teenagers, the numerous posts from the previous year focused on how the world we live in has changed since we graduated from high school. While the above posts were meant to help us to relive our lives as young teenagers, the posts of 2023 were meant to help us as senior citizens understand what kind of world we have left our children and grandchildren.

To amplify that point, the earliest articles focused on four developments that have transformed America over the past several decades. They include the topics of 1) Foreign Affairs, 2) Personal Ties, 3) Race Relations and 4) Economic Developments. Unfortunately, not all of these changes have been positive for the average individual nor for the country at large.

Foreign Policy

For example, the first dramatic change in our lives has been the fluctuating role America has played in foreign affairs. The US has evolved from being a 1) peripheral power prior to WWII to 2) being one of two superpowers after the war to 3) emerging as the world’s first superpower in the 1990s to 4) a period of decline in which today the US is merely one of several multi powers, challenged by China, Iran and Russia. That last point has been reinforced by the government’s inept use of “Coercive Diplomacy” to discourage our opponents in Syria, Russia and now China from taking coercive actions against our allies in the Middle East, Ukraine and Taiwan.

Personal and Political Ties

A second major change that affects us more personally has been a real deterioration in in our personal and political ties. If we review poling data from both the Pew Center and Gallup, we find that America has taken a turn for the worse in how we treat one another and view our own country. Among these developments we find that 1) Americans have fewer friends than 60 years ago, 2) that people are less considerate and civil when dealing with other people than in the past, 3) that the country is perhaps more polarized than at any time since the civil war, 4) that Americans, in the words of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the famous Democratic senator from New York, are increasingly choosing to define deviancy downward, confusing many people as to what is ethical or proper behavior and 5) that our country has been transformed from a high trust to a low trust society in which most Americans no longer have much faith in the integrity or fairness of our major institutions, and 6) finally that increasingly many Americans say that no longer feel proud of their country or feel a patriotic sense of duty to defend it. On both a personal and political level America is going through a toxic rough patch that show no signs of dissipating any time soon.

As people become less civil and more prone to attack one another, it is easy to understand why people have fewer friends, as they become wary of long-term relationships that may be anything but stable, considerate or polite. 

Because the phrase “define deviance down” is probably new to most people, it is worth further discussion. The phrase merely means that behavior which was once considered harmful or criminal or unethical is now considered acceptable behavior. Surprising enough, California is a perfect example of Moynihan’s point. In 2014 California passed Proposition 47 which allowed people to steal up to 950 dollars of goods a day, and face little or no jail time as that offense was reclassified from a felony to a misdemeanor. Deviant behavior that was once condemned and faced severe penalties was defined downward to a minor offense that was rarely prosecuted.

Paralleling the doctrine of defining deviance downward was the doctrine of defining deviance upward. That situation would arise if a person from the 1960s who looked at California in 2014 and argued that the state had lost its moral compass on crime, soon found themselves under attacked as a bigoted individual because of their stance on shoplifting.

What is right and wrong sixty years ago has been turned upside down by 2020. Increasingly we live in a society where public norms about acceptable behavior are in doubt, creating a more unpleasant and uncertain world.

Changing Race Relations

As pessimistic as the above developments in personal ties has been, a positive note has occurred in race relations. A third major development in our American history has been the evolution of more tolerant race relations in the country. Within a year of our graduating from high school, the US government dismantled the Jim Crow laws that existed in the nation.

While in the 1960s America was basically a bi racial society in which 85% of the population was white and 10% of the population was African American, the US was slowly evolving into a Multi Racial Society by the end of the century.  Because of changing immigration laws and the rather rapid decline in the birth rate of whites in the world at large and in America in particular, the white population will probably decline to around 47% of the American population. In contrast, the Asians population will be likely 9%, African Americans will be 14% and Hispanics will constitute anywhere from 25 to 30% of the country’s population. Besides having a greater diversity of ethnic and racial groups, we are also like to see more mixed marriages in the country raising issues of how we racially classify people.

The Changing Economy I

Finally, the fourth major change we examined is how the US, which had been a major industrialized power up until the 1970s, went through several periods of economic deindustrialization. This decline in our country’s manufacturing base transformed the industrial Midwest or parts of the south into what is today called the Rust Belt. 

The people who were hurt the most in this process of deindustrialization were often the children of immigrants from the working class. After all industrialization had been the means by which many immigrant families had escaped the working class and enjoyed the prosperous lifestyle of a middle class family.

Their devastation is reflected in the changing class makeup of the US. While after WWI over 61% of the public was considered middle class, the number dropped to around 50% by the 21st century. While admittedly part of that changing class structure reflected more people moving into the upper class, it left over 29% or close to a third of all Americans in the lower class. Billie Joel captured the plight of the working in America in his famous ballad “Allentown.”

If the economic hardships were not enough, by the year 2005 the working class were also under political attack. Besides having lost well paying jobs, the working class were now often attacked as deplorables and depicted as the beneficiaries of some unspecified privileges. 

While in the 1970s many people had felt compassion for the workers of Allentown who saw globalization destroy their livelihood, by the year 2010 many of those same people dismissed the working class as threats to the well being of society. This startling change in their status in roughly 40 years only added to blue collar worker's sense of dismay and alienation from American society. In light of the fact that many working-class families were often looked down upon as living in fly over territory, they quickly realized that many in the political system no longer cared about their well being. In place of respect and concern, which many political elites once showed for the welfare of the working class, today they often choose to ignore the dire economic situation of the working class.

The Changing Economy II

But if I) deindustrialization and 2) the shrinking of the middle class and the growth of the lower class were the main economic stories of America from 1970 to the turn of the century, two very different changes have characterized the economy since 2020. 

While these new emergent trends have yet to fully run their course, they may very well signify a significant shift in the economic and political makeup of the country. The south which was once an minor player in America’s successful post war economy, may now become the economic power house which fuels further economic development in the country.

1)A Major Demographic Shift in the Nation’s Population. 

The first of these two changes which we just hinted at in the last post and will expand in the next post is a dramatic shift in the demographic makeup of the US. We are beginning to see a major shift in the country’s population from the west and east coast to the south. That demographic change may significantly alter the distribution of political power in Washington as both the west and east coast lose representation and the south gains more congressional seats

2) A Major Shift in the Economic Makeup of the Economy

The second major change is the significant change in the preferences of businesses for where they wish to run their operations. Increasingly we are seeing more and more companies choosing to leave states like California, Illinois and New York while shifting their plants to a variety of southern states.  In the same way that the demographic makeup of the country will likely change, it is possible that the makeup of the country’s economy will experience a parallel change, essentially altering the country’s political culture. 

To appreciate this development, we should realize that the shift in the location of American companies covers the gamut from firms specializing in computer software to movie houses producing films to financial industries investing people’s retirement funds. 

The major industries that have up to now defined California as well as New York may soon start departing for the more business friendly states in the south.  For instance, in a major blow to California’s silicon valley, we now see companies like Oracle and Hewlett and Packard moving much of their hardware and software design from California to Austin and Houston Texas. Likewise, in the film industry, we increasingly see Atlanta Georgia producing as many if not more movies than Hollywood in some years. Atlanta Georgia may soon come to rival Hollywood as the movie capitol of America. 

Finally, if we focus on the east coast rather than the west coast, we see Miami giving New York City a run for their money as the financial capitol of America. If you want an investment banker or a hedge fund to park your retirement funds, you may find that they are increasingly headquartered in Miami rather than New York city.  If these trends continue in the next decade or so we may find that part of the territory once called fly over territory or home to the deplorables has been transformed into fly to Territory.

While Silicon Valley and Hollywood once distinguished California while New York’s Financial district once set New York apart from the rest of the country, both areas run the risk of being eclipsed by a growing and increasingly prosperous south.


04/05/24 12:42 PM #463    

 

Bill Kelso

              

A Declining California & A Rising South

      The Changing American Economy

 

In the previous post, we tried to summarize most of the major changes that have occurred in American history during our lifetime. However, while we previously have examined how America’s economy changed from the 1970s to the 1990s, our present knowledge needs to be significantly updated. As is obviously the case, our understanding of the national financial situation is incomplete if we do not study how the economy has evolved over last two decades. 

 

The Rise of the South and the Fall of the West and East Coast

 

If deindustrialization and the changing makeup of the middle class were the key economic issues of past decades, today the major financial story is the demographic transformation occurring in the former states of the old confederacy. Our country’s economy is currently beginning yet another major geographical transformation that will dramatically alter the political and economic landscape of the country. On the one hand we are seeing the demographic and economic decline of both the west and east coast including California and at the same time we are seeing the emergence of the South as a major economic and political force in the country.

 

Because these changes have primarily occurred in the last decade, we have only recently become aware of how our economy is starting to develop. Fortunately, organizations like the Census Bureau as well as economists and reporters from a variety of institutions including Stanford, have started to gather enough data that we can finally draw a tentative picture of these newly emerging trends in America.

 

1)The Changing Demographic Makeup of America.

 

                           2020                   1960                   1910

 

Northeast            17.7%                 24.4%                 28%

 

Midwest             20.7%                 28.7%                 32%

 

West                   23.7%                 15.7%                 7.6%

 

South                  38.4%                 30.6%                 31%

 

For instance, if we look at the above chart, we see that the distribution of the nation’s population has changed over time, sometime dramatically. Over the past 200 years or so, the major changes in population have primarily concerned the Northeast and Midwest. But today the major shift in population involves both the east and west coast as well as the South.

 

But to provide some context for this discussion, first look at the declining share of the population located in the Northeast.  Over the last hundred years or so the number of individuals in the Northeast have declined from 28% to 17.7% of the American population while the population of the Midwest which was the heart of Industrial America has dropped from close to 29% of the country’s population to 20%. The result should not surprise us for as the US deindustrialized, many former blue collar workers moved from the Midwest to other states in search of work.

 

However, the most dramatically story of the post 1960s has been the growth of California. For about 50 years California was the Golden state, the land of opportunity that attracted millions of new residents. However, by 2000 the miracle of California began to fade, and its population growth began to stall out. In the last census of 2020 California failed to keep up with population increases in the South and actually lost one congressional seat. But the Census Bureau is now suggesting that the relative decline of California’s population has accelerated in the last couple of years and that California may now lose 5 congressional seats by 2030.

 

As California has declined the South has boomed. As the above chart indicates population growth in the South jumped from around 30% of the American population to 38% by 2020. The Census Bureau is now suggesting that the South’s share of the country’s population is rapidly growing and may be over 40% of the country’s total census by the end of the decade.

 

The most surprising development in this growth spurt in the South  is its popularity among African Americans. Starting in the late 1970s African Americans started moving out of New York and Illinois to the South and in the last two decades they have started moving out of California. Today roughly 60% of all African Americans have chosen to lives in the states of the south.

 

What is interesting is that the west coast seems to have little appeal to African Americans. Presently only 2% of people in Oregon,  4.6% of individuals in Washington State and 5% of Californians are black. In contrast, around 13% of Texas, 18% of Florida and 30% of Georgia are African American.

 

2)The Changing Economic Makeup of America

 

a.The Problems facing California.

 

If the shift in the country’s population is an interesting story, an even more dramatic change in our economy is the growing migration of American business firms out of states like California, Illinois and New York to the South.

 

In the case of California, the number of businesses moving out of the state covers the gamut including movie studies, manufacturing plants, computer software and hardware companies and financial firms.

 

Movie Studios

For instance, Atlanta is fast becoming the Hollywood of the South and in 2023 it made 390 productions with 31 studio films and 55 independent made films. In 206 it actually made more films than did Hollywood. Recently over 7 film studies have made their headquarters in Atlanta.

 

General Firms including Silicon Valley Companies

But the out migration is not limited to movie studies. In one of the oldest studies, the Relocation firm Spectrum Location Solutions claims that 10,000 business of all types either left or reduced their operations in the state between 2008 and 2015.

 

More recently economists at Stanford found that 352 California companies moved to other states in three years from 2018 to 2021. They also claimed that the data indicated that the outmigration from California was accelerating. Among the most notable companies to leave was Oracle, the third largest software company in the world by revenue which elected to move its Redwood City headquarters to Austin Texas.

 

That major loss was followed the following year by Hewlett Packard, one of the major firms that helped established Silicon valley which also decided to move its operations from San Jose to Houston Texas. 

 

Manufacturing Plants

In addition to computer firms, California has also lost significant manufacturing jobs. For example, from 2010 to 2021Tesla manufactured cars in Fremont California and employed over 20,000 workers. However, by the late 2020s Tesla, like an increasing number of California companies closed their operation in California and elected to build clectrical vehicles in Austin Texas.

 

Financial Companies

Besides losing general American companies, California as well as New York have lost many of its hedge funds and investment firms. As proof of that comment, six months ago Bloomberg financial news reported that since the year 2019, 158 financial companies that had responsibilities for investing and managing close to a trillion dollars had moved out of the state of California.

 

Retail Stores
Finally the state has lost a significant share of its retail business. In June of last year the San Francisco Standard, an on line newspapers reported that the number of retail stores in Union Square alone decreased from 207 to a mere 107. Among the stores closing were the Legos Store, Adidas, and Nordstrom. 

 

Things were so bad that the San Francisco Chronicle, normally a cheer leader for all of California’s public policies, even ran an editorial that asked “Is San Francisco a Failed State?” They also ran a whole series of articles about a doom loop in California as things deteriorate, more companies move out which only exacerbates the decline of the city.

 

b. The Rise of the South

 

While the outmigration of companies from states like California is dramatic it is only part of a larger story. And that story is the growing shift of economic power and companies to the states in the old confederacy. If present trends continue, we will probably see the south displace the west as the major source of economic growth in the country over the next couple of decades. That development is stunning.

 

During the 1940s the south was an incredibly poor part of the country troubled by the bigotry of Jim Crow. In fact the region was so poor, when the US had to fight Germany during WWII, most of the new army and marine bases were built in the South because the land was so cheap. The most famous of those bases is what use to be called Fort Bragg in North Carolina where our famous Delta Force is located which specializes in counter terrorism and hostage rescue.

 

But the rise of the South should not necessarily surprise us.  In our country, different regions have been the dominant force in our economy during different periods in our history. When we were first formed, the Northeast was the richest area in the country only to be displaced by the Midwest when America industrialized at the start of the 20thcentury.

 

Likewise the Golden Age of California, which lasted some 50 years from the 1950s to 2000, now seems to be coming to a close. But we should not be surprised by these results as California is well known for its hostility to business. In several surveys spanning numerous years California has consistently scored as either having the worse or second to worse climate for business out of all the 50 states. Those findings have had little impact on Sacramento. In the last two decades California’s legislature and governor has chosen to do very little to make their states more attractive to American companies.

 

Unfortunately the state of California also seems to be troubled by numerous social issues. In the 1960s when Lyndon Johnson set up a commission to study poverty in America, the poorest population in America were the Scotch Irish living in Appalachia.  However today 60 years later, California has displaced Appalachia as the region with the worst poverty rate in the country. Similarly, California is in the top three state for the most unequal distributions of income and it also has the largest homeless population in the nation.

 

Unanswered Questions

 

But this whole discussion of changing population and business patterns leaves one question unanswered. In reaction to the last post Kurli Thompson raised the perceptive question as to what does the out migration from states like California and New York mean politically? Will the out migration of people from California to states like Florida or Texas alter their more conservative political orientation and turn the state purple or even perhaps blue.

 

Because Kurli raises such an interesting question, we could try in another post to analyze the issue in more detail. But we have to realize that the question Kurli asks is an empirical issue and the only way to correctly answer it is to wait and see what the election data in the next few elections tells us. Thus the most definite answer to her query is that it is too early to tell.  However given our age, we may not be around to see what happens in future elections. We can thus use whatever data is currently available and speculate where we lack data. For instance, in the 2020 midterm elections Republicans in states like Florida, Texas and Georgia swept the election and, in the process, managed to control both branches of the legislature as well as all of the state wide elected office. That result suggest that the inmigration of people has had little impact on the electoral politics of the above states. But to know if this trend will continue, we again need data from several more elections. 

 

If we take Kurli’s question and broaden it, we can actually speculate about the future political direction of both California as well states like Florida. Besides asking if people moving from California to the South will turn these states purple, we can reverse the question and ask if people and businesses moving out of California and New York will turn these blue states more reddish.

 

If a state like California also has a high poverty rate, a large homeless population and numerous African Americans and American businesses abandoning the state, will people be willing to change their voting habits. Another possibility is that the out migration may embolden more moderate Democrats to try to wrestle power away from more Progressive Democrats. More moderate Democrats might be less hostile to business and more opposed to Progressive policies that define deviance down such as defunding the police or letting shop lifters walk scott-free.

 

Again, if we are willing to wait, we should know the answer some time in the next decade. But given our age, we probably won’t have the opportunity to see the results.  That leaves us with the option of just speculating about various scenarios. The process can be fun. But every possibility is just that a possibility. Unless we are incredibly long living members of the class of 1963, we will probably won’t be around to correctly answer Kurli’s interesting question.


04/06/24 06:36 PM #464    

Susie Weidman (Arnold)

Bill, thank you so much for your informative posts.  We are so fortunate to have our own in house professor.  Good to still be learning at our age, best to you, Susie 


04/06/24 08:49 PM #465    

 

Tim Kleeman

Hi Bill, I hope you realize that some of us that do not post-or even go online for that matter that often, really enjoy your insights. Please keep posting Bill. You're a good man and citizen! Thank you


04/07/24 04:41 AM #466    

 

Bill Kelso

Just want to thank Susie and Tim for their nice comments. Over the years I have exchanged many wonderful letters with Susie who is a dear friend. 

 

It was also nice to be back in touch with Tim again. I wanted to tell Tim how much I enjoyed his comments a year or two ago when our friend Bennie Sargis passed away. At that time we were discussing how Bennie had perfected his ability to break into California Jr. high, enabling our class to play basketball in the school’s gym during the weekends.

 

At that time I think everyone at Cal thought that Benny was probably the finest two story individual Cal had ever produced. Nobody else ever came close to having Benny’s B and E skills. 

 

Because Benny’s hijinks quickly become widely known, many members of our Jr. high class started showing up for the recurring basketball weekend games.  

 

When Tim mentioned that he had participated in those games, I distinctly remembered playing with him in those pickup games. As a result his comments brought back a lot of great memories about jr. high. 

 

At that time none of us had cell phones, video games or streaming, but who needed it. With Benny, we had the better option of playing in a posh junior high gymnasium protected from the outside elements.  In discussing our weekend basketball games at Cal, Tim recalled one of the most pleasant aspects of life in jr. high. 


04/11/24 07:56 AM #467    

 

Bill Kelso

                  A McClatchy Reunion Theme Song

When I opened the “In Memory” section the other day and saw Lynn Anderson’s name, I was really saddened. In my senior year I sat across from Lynn as well as 

Robert Moeckly in Mr. Lindberg’s science class and when I joined the website, I was hoping to contact Lynn. However, because she never joined the McClatchy website I had no way to get in touch with her.

When I looked at all the students who had died in just the first 3 ½ months of 2024 it was hard to be optimistic about the future. It seemed like we were losing a classmate every 3 weeks or so. 

Because the news was so depressing, I thought I would look for some positive news to offset the news about our classmates who were no longer with us.

To achieve that goal I started looking at videos of the TV show Glee which was about a bunch of high school students who sang and performed in their Glee club at their high school of McKinley high.

A Theme Song for our Reunion

Very quickly I found this song originally sung by Diana Ross but in this video performed by Amber Riley, one of the best young singers in America. It seemed to me to both a poignant as well as happy song about kids graduating from high school. It thus appeared to be a perfect theme song for a high school reunion.

Someday we will be together

https://www.google.com/search?q=video+of+Mercedes+singing+someday+we+will+be+together+on+glee&sca_esv=4188d43fabe6cc89&sca_upv=1&source=hp&ei=vzQXZsCoOIHg+someday+we+wild=cid:22bcf468,vid:C1X0E4AiNZA,st:

It is also a wonderful video that illustrates the importance of high school friendships as well as the importance of staying in touch.

Because Amber Riley is such an impressive and powerful singer with incredible range, I added two other videos of her to this post. 

Maybe it is a stretch but they also illustrate problems we all have to face in attending high school.

The Importance of Being Resilient. 

For instance in the following song “I am Beautiful” which was written by Candice Glover tells the story of a young person who refuses to believe negative things thought about her. In the lyrics of the song, we are told that words will not bring us down, that in effect we will be resilient. The record is important because many think our generation was trained to be much more resilient than Millennials or Gen Z. Where as colleges today tell young  people today that they need safe spaces and should worry about Micro aggressions, Amber Riley expresses the need for young people to believe in themselves. Or to repeat the above point “What ever happens do not let word bring your down today.”

You are Beautiful. The Main Theme of the Show

25)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8sq_MA4uBQ

The Importance of Treating others with Consideration

Finally a third Amber Riley’s recording you might like is her rendering of Otis Redding’s song “Try a Little Tenderness”. This song reflects probably both a short coming in our generation as well as that of young people. That is the tendency of people to show a lack of tenderness or concern for other people. In our very polarized and low trust world, it would be nice if people were more thoughtful of others.

Mercedes singing a song from Otis Redding

If you liked these videos of kids at McKinley they can perhaps be a model for our next reunion. Besides enjoying the company of our fellow classmates, we can also appreciate the need to be resilient as well as considerate of the people we grew up with.

If at the next class get together the reunion committee is going  to play any music, they may want to consider “Someday we will be together” as the theme of our high school reunion.  


go to top 
  Post Message
  
    Prior Page
 Page