As I write, it is April the 1st. March and its winds of folklorish legend have theoretically passed. The weather report suggests that by the end of the week, the temperature could rise to 60 degrees fahreneight. Much of the winter's snow has already melted, exposing patches of ground large enough to easily spot this morning's frost. It was really a delight to have a good old fashioned snowy winter again. There have been some years recently in which I was already photographing daffodils and jonquils by this date. As it happens, I'm old enough to remember when such warmth was unexpected and a fairly rare event, as it was in Ticino in 1959 in this report from the venerable Beeb.
When I prepare one of my radio shows, I spend as much time as possible listening to old radio shows from which I might take an excerpt. Such clips are intended to illuminate the times from which the featured big band broadcast originates. Last Saturday's show centered on March 31st, 1946, and a broadcast from the New Meadowbrook in Los Angeles by Gene Krupa and His Orchestra.
From the time I was a baby until a month before my 9th birthday, we shared what had been my grandfather's house with my uncle and aunt. My uncle had fought in the Second World War. He never talked about it. It seems to me that most folks of that era didn't talk about it. The war was a job they had to do, a sacrifice that had to be made. It was over, and time to get back to the everyday business of living and dying.
The men and women who had gone overseas returned to find that the home they had fought for had changed. They returned to a world of shortages, which was to be expected. But there was also great unrest. The Labor Unions were calling strike after strike, and it could be difficult to find work. There was an acute shortage of housing, and what was available was overpriced. When England withdrew its troops form Iran as specified in the terms of a treaty, Russia did not. The War had not brought peace. In many of the March and early April 1946 radio shows I listened to, a recurring theme centered on the world spinning out of control - again. Thanks to the presence in every home of a radio, news stories were everywhere. The lead characters in both the comedies and the dramas all felt overwhelmed by the all too present world. All people really wanted was to be left alone. In peace.
I am a news junkie, always have been. I like to keep up on what's happening, what's going on, what's new, what's old, what's in, what's out, what.... and there's the rub. These days, it's just "what?". In capitals "WHAT?".
There was one segment I prepared for last Saturday's show that I ended up not using for various reasons, including its length. It was an excerpt from a 'Songs by Sinatra' broadcast. In it, there was a recreation of a scene from a short subject which had just won an Academy Award. There were boys fighting, picking on one fellow who was 'different'. Sinatra broke up the fight, and noted that it was Un-American. We had just fought a war - did you care about who dropped the bomb on the Japs, he asked? Or that we won? He noted that as a nation, we had come together, all races working together. Discrimination didn't have a place here in America, no sir-ee. The lesson was followed by the song, "The House I Live In".
Along with all the other news, local, national, and international which I wish I hadn't heard this past week, was the curious case of a law to protect religious rights in one of our states. Many states have instituted such laws or are in the process of adopting them. Religious liberties are being threatened, they say. People should not be required to do things which violate the precepts of their religion, they say. The particular legislation which hit the fan this time was signed into law by the governor of a state in a private closed door ceremony. In the photograph of the signing, several prominent anti-gay rights advocates can be clearly seen. The bill was quite clearly passed to allow businesses and corporations (which are defined as 'people') the right to refuse their services to others based on a religious objection. When the backlash started, as events planned in that state began being cancelled, the governor went on a media offensive tour, proclaiming that we all simply misunderstood the nature of the bill. You know, governor, I think we get it.
In California, a 'citizen's initiative' by a lawyer will make to the ballot. It will allow citizens to shoot and kill gay people on sight if the state doesn't put them to death first. Now, we all know this kind of nonsense doesn't have a chance of happening, said the people of Germany on November 8th, 1938. The question I have is why these stories are getting so much coverage. Is the intent to ferret out prejudice and bring us all together in the house we live in? To shock and get ratings? To distract us from something else that is going on? To reinforce the beliefs of the similar minded? Yeah, I understand the desire to be left alone, to putter around doing my own thing, to get back to the ordinary process of living and dying.
As always, I hope anyone who listens enjoys the show.