Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Some Misc in Context

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Let’s start with 3:20 am on Wednesday morning, which is when I got up in the middle of the night, didn’t bother to turn on the lamp–I never do–and promptly fell right over, hitting the carpet hard with both knees.

Then, I couldn’t figure out a way to get up except by crawling into the hall, where there was enough room for me to sort of roll around.

The whole scene was ludicrous and embarrassing, and it left me wide awake for the rest of the night, but I thought that was all that had happened.

It did occur to me that I could have fallen like that in a room with hardwood floors.  We have a lot of them.  And hardwood floors could easily have broken one of my knees, or both. And that would have been very bad.

So I sort of stumbled through the day, feeling sort of mentally fuzzed from the lack of sleep but basically all right–until just after lunch, when the knees started to hurt.

A lot.

They also started to have a really hard time bending.  I discounted that at first, because I’ve got arthritis in those knees, and sometimes they just have a really hard time bending.

But it’s back to that thing about how everything is relative.  My knees do often have a very hard time bending, but not this hard a time bending.

I also usually don’t have problems with my knees standing up.

By the time it got around to when I was supposed to start dinner, plans went from this elaborate chicken thing I’d been intent on making to plain hamburgers, which could be shaped and slapped on a broiler pan in thirty seconds.

By the time I’d normally go to bed, I’d taken all the aspirin I dared to and I was aching so much I couldn’t concentrate on the Perry Mason novel I was reading.

I managed to get to sleep, finally, although it was a little late, and I got up this morning hoping that the whole thing had taken care of itself overnight.

Which, of course, it hadn’t.

The good news is that this is a long week-end, and Monday is the holiday, so I won’t need to be up and about and vigorous for class until next Wednesday, which ought to be long enough.

The bad news is that this is a long week-end, and I have a hundred and one things to get done whether I want to do them or not.

If it was up to me, I’d order a pile of take out and pretend that my life didn’t exist until Tuesday.

As it is, I am here at the computer being Extremely Conscientious and Responsible, and I’m not very happy about it.

Having taken the time to write this, however, let me answer a question from the comments–what was so awful about the Fifties?

I’m with John, to an extent.

There were definitely some things that were right with the 50s.

We did most certainly build the Interstate highway system, and much else besides. 

And although people were still people and lusted after money, there seems to me to have been a lot less in the way of money-is-the-only-thing-that counts.

It was an era in which people involved in scandals disappeared from public view instead of ending up as “celebrities” on Dancing With The Stars, and Jonas Salk refused to patent his polio vaccine because he didn’t want to make the vaccine too expensive for children to be able to have it.

But there were some other things about the 50s that were no so admirable.

Jim Crow, for instance, and a situation in most of the American Southeast that made it impossible for most black people to vote.  At all.

Lynch law.

A world where the want ads were divided up into “male” and “female” and Harvard Law School admitted one–ONE–woman to each year’s class.

A world where homosexuality was usually against the law, and where the laws against homosexuality were often vigorously enforced.

A world where the only thing it took to ruin a girl’s reputation–to get her thrown out of school, to make her “fair game” to anybody who wanted to to force her into anything (after all, she gives it away,  you can’t believe her when she cries rape, she wouldn’t care anyway, she’s got nothing to lose)–was some guy saying he’d had her, no proof required.

So, no.  There is much I admire in the 50s, there’s enough I don’t so that I don’t want to go back.

Written by janeh

August 30th, 2014 at 8:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

9 Responses to 'Some Misc in Context'

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  1. No, I wouldn’t go back to the Fifties either. I’m too old and too comfortable. I wouldn’t give up modern medicine and modern communications. (Does anyone else remember pre-Internet used book searches?)But let me say a few kind words for the era of my birth and earliest memories.
    Talk about momentum. Yes, there was still racial segregation–but less each year. The armed forces were integrated, minor civil rights laws were passing, and people were anticipating a future in which race mattered less. The brighter science. fiction writers had already figured out that in a world in which education and intelligence counted for more and brown for less, and homes were filling up with labor-saving devices, relations between the sexes would be very different. People denounce the Fifties in that regard because they look at them from the Eighties and not from the Twenties.

    Paperbacks sold for fifteen minutes work at minimum wage. Locking doors was something they did in New York

    But let’s talk culture. Go to any university in the country, and virtually any middle-aged and younger professor will have served his country in time of war. (The old professors were disproportionately refugees from totalitarian regimes.) The Great Books program is under way, and ordinary citizens are reading and discussing Plato, Aristotle and Bacon. (McDonald is outraged: How dare they?) Book clubs are thriving, and English professors at universities know the books they assign, and think them worth studying for their own sake. (No, I didn’t and don’t share their tastes. but I wanted and want professors who know and love other books, not ones who just want a launching pad for political diatribes.) NATIONAL REVIEW is at its peak, and even the NYRB sometimes had something to say.

    In popular culture, the Kingston Trio is on tour, and the Limeliters–and Tom Lehrer. Al Hirt is playing in New Orleans, and Presley and Cash in Nashville. Broadway musicals are at their peak, and the movie studios not far off theirs. John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and Michael Curtiz are still making movies. NEW YORKER cartoons are by Arno, Hokinson and Addams. The “slicks”–COLLIERS and THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, among others–are providing a thriving market for short fiction.

    In science fiction, John Wood Campbell is editing ASTOUNDING/ANALOG, and he never has less than half a dozen competitors. There are two new Heinlein novels a year. Half a dozen small presses are publishing him, and bringing Howard and Lovecraft into hard covers. Piper is at his peak, Anderson is hitting his stride and Tolkien is new. In mysteries, there is a new Christie every year, and a new Rex Stout. In romance, Georgette Heyer is inventing the Regency.

    Jane’s wayback machine is set, I think, for the Athenian Agora, just as they’re rebuilding the Long Walls in the early 4th Century BC. Me for the Hungry i just before the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.

    As for the “they want to go back to the Fifties!” critics. They can’t be upset over racial quotas. They have their own, after all. And their rules for sexual conduct are even more insane than those of the Eisenhower administration. (“Yes Means Yes” just passed in California. Gentlemen, don’t have sex in that state without a signed and notarized consent form, and at least two cameras rolling. Better still, drive to Nevada in separate vehicles.)

    Myself, I think it’s the culture of the Fifties they can’t stand, and having passed through what followed, I have no sympathy for the older ones. They know better. My heart goes out to the young critics, though. They’ll like the culture which results in their lifetimes from their policies a lot less the one they heard about from sixty years ago.

    I have to go. I need to stop by Amazon and see whether 77 SUNSET STRIP is out on DVD yet.


    30 Aug 14 at 11:51 am

  2. As usual, Robert sums it up beautifully. I particularly agree with: “People denounce the Fifties in that regard because they look at them from the Eighties and not from the Twenties”.

    As Jane says, there were plenty of things still wrong, but as Robert says they were improving.

    It might seem trivial when we are faced with war on every horizon, but for me the thing that upsets me most about our modern “culture” is that it has pretty much descended into sheer barbarity. I’m not a prude, and have certainly been guilty of dropping the F-bomb in inappropriate places, but it seems to be a badge of honour for modern “celebrities” to compete with each other and the world at large in their foul-mouthedness. Don’t any of them have mothers, sisters, small children? Here in Australia just this last week, a well-known radio/TV sports commentator – a former star football player – was instantly fired from his station for saying to his female producer “Get me a cup of coffee, you C***”.

    I’m having an argument with a guy on Facebook who thinks it would be OK, indeed, necessary to “accept” the loss of a few hundred innocent civilian lives by shooting down a hijacked civil airliner to save people on the ground. I think it’s simply murder to do so, and can’t understand why so many seem to think it’s a sane and reasonable policy.

    I despair.


    30 Aug 14 at 12:41 pm

  3. I agree with Robert that the young critics will not like the culture which results from their policies. But the bad results may already be occurring. Has the US media been following the Rotherham scandal?



    30 Aug 14 at 4:11 pm

  4. I have been rereading Churchill’s history of WW2. The first volume “The Gathering Storm”, covers the period between WW1 and WW2. Looking at ISIS and Russia and the Ukraine, I can’t decide if we are at 1930 or 1938.


    30 Aug 14 at 4:23 pm

  5. Mini-hijack alert

    Given the surge of hysterical leftist anti-Semitism (masquerading as “anti-Zionism) I thought I’d post the link to this brilliant essay part of which appeared in The Australian on the weekend:


    Am I the only one who is increasingly bored by people who use Facebook to fly their “me too” political banners as if any sane person gives two hoots about their pathetic simplistic little bumper-sticker slogans? They remind me of certain lesser primates who like to flash their colourful arses to get attention.


    2 Sep 14 at 7:46 am

  6. Mique, I’m not so sure those primates are lesser. Sometimes I look at mankind, and all I see is a terrible waste of the opposable thumb. Did you ever read the old Heinlein speech in which he argued that a young baboon, up in the tree looking for lions and ready to warn his troop, is morally superior to Sam Johnson? Heinlein made a pretty good case.

    But I am never bored by social media. This is as close to them as I get.


    2 Sep 14 at 3:13 pm

  7. And for a wonder, I found that Heinlein speech. Enjoy:



    2 Sep 14 at 4:09 pm

  8. Thanks for the Heinlein link Robert. It reminded me of Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Very typical Heinlein.

    The link to Four Chaplains was also interesting. I never heard of them which seems strange as I was in school in the 40s and 50s.


    2 Sep 14 at 7:47 pm

  9. I can’t remember when I DIDN’T know of the Four Chaplains. On the other hand, I remember a colleague–raised in Hungary until she was 12–describing her amazement when in school she found out that the Alamo wasn’t just a John Wayne movie, but had really happened.


    3 Sep 14 at 7:19 pm

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