The it was really IT
There IT was. Flat as a pancake, staring up at me from the bottom of the cardboard box. It reminded me of the dollar bill I’d used as a bookmark and found, after several years had passed, when I decided to read the book again. IT surprised me.
But there IT was. I’d forgotten what IT looked like. In fact, I had forgotten IT even existed, that IT had been a part of my educational experience many years ago, but I found that IT now would provide some very interesting reading. More about that later.
I carefully lifted IT out of the box, fearful that IT would fall apart in my hands. But IT didn’t. The string or cord that held IT together so many years held. IT didn’t break apart as I carefully laid IT on the countertop. Thus began several hours, make that several sessions, of poring through IT’s pages as I relived those events of a couple generations ago.
Just was in IT? You’ll find it hard to believe. It’s hard for me to believe IT survived all these years — seventy, to be exact.
For there, staring up at me on the counter was a full semester of those infamous “Weekly Reader” newspapers which were part of the classroom work at school. There were always exams. I had saved all of them, nine months from September 1947 through May of the following year, 1948. They were bound together behind a cover which I had designed featuring a picture of the then Supreme Court justices, as well as other timely decorations. And there they were, providing a look back at the world, the nation and the people of that era two years after the end of World War II.
All of the challenges and accomplishments of mankind were spelled out in black and white (there were no color photos in those papers). Black and white can provide a very graphic picture, while so often a color photo actually minimizes its effect. As I mentioned, there in stark black and white were welltold stories of the problems facing the world after years of warfare, shortages, rationing, doing without, worry and frustrations.
I won’t bore you with much of the info I enjoyed and, yes, I was filled with disbelief at the woes of the world and America of that day. Sadly, many of those uncertainties are still with us, along with others that cause so much confusion, disbelief and uncertainty. Topics of that longago era included problems in the Near East, Israel and Arabia, the worldwide war debt which has been a similar development today. A topic that especially grabbed me was the dependence on the good old USA to bail out so much of the world with billions of dollars of loans (were they ever repaid?). Western Europe, from Great Britain to Italy and through adjoining countries, all faced severe rebuilding problems, food shortages, infrastructure destruction, destroyed manufacturing facilities, and on and on.
Of course, the hand and arm and fist of the USSR occupied Eastern Europe. The remnants of the USSR exist today with a nation called Russia, which seems to desire similar occupation of those now independent countries. A similar situation involved Korea, the first nation that was conquered by Japan during the early years of World War II. Seventy years ago the United States was assisting the southern area of Korea in its rebuilding process and its formation of a self-governing democracy. It was then that the USSR occupied the northern portion and created a communist type government which was later replaced with the dictatorship that rules the region today. The USA and the USSR were unable to reach an answer to the problem. Sound familiar?
As noted, billions and billions of dollars came from the good old USA, which we realized held the answer to help solve the world’s economic problems. The process was known as the Marshall Plan, named after Secretary of State George Marshall. Harry S. Truman, from nearby Missouri, was the president (he didn’t have a middle name, just an S) and the early stages of the 1948 election were challenging to his election to a four-year term of his own. He had replaced Franklin Roosevelt who died shortly before the end of the war. Do you remember how that election turned out? Briefly, the result of the Marshall Plan was no questions, no regrets, much satisfaction. The plan was a success.
America itself faced recovering from the war of shortages and rationing, as well as coal miner strikes, retooling and restructuring our manufacturing processes for making autos, appliances and other items which had been changed to war supplies.
Briefly, those who were exposed to the “Weekly Readers” at that time can remember the small page covered the entire world, along with emphasis of happenings in the United States. Children were exposed to lessons in geography, government, early American history, how our government operates at the national level, especially the legislative process, as well as
sports information, natural disasters, floods, hurricanes, forest fires, new discoveries in medicine, airplane improvements, how the United Nations functioned, including the dozens of vetoes by the USSR of topics proposed by the Western world. Some things haven’t changed. In other words, couldn’t it be said, some things never change? There are always instances of greed and self-interest (that’s the basic cause of greed). As an aside, it’s amazing — our learned and inspired forefathers would have a hard task, if not an impossible one, forming our government today.
A topic that has caused considerable discussion involved the sale of colored oleomargarine. In those good old days, margarine appeared similar to a chunk of lard, white and greasy. Many states even prohibited the sale of uncolored oleo. Butter, which had been rationed during the war years, was now the readily available item of choice, particularly by the dairy industry.
How well I remember my mother placing a block of white oleo in a bowl, opening a small vegetable parchment envelope and pouring about a quarter teaspoon of orange powder on the white stuff, then giving me a fork and letting me know I was to mix the mass. The resulting yellow glob, which was streaked with bits of an orange powder (I wasn’t a very good mixer) was then put in the icebox (not a refrigerator). Years later, the white blob came enclosed in a plastic bag which featured a small capsule on the inside that held some orange liquid. I’d pinch the capsule and then begin squeezing and massaging the bag until that “stuff” became spread for the toast. Such was the churning process for non-butterers.
You can tell I’m having fun reading about those seventy-year-old days that were filled with many of the same challenges facing humanity today. We’ve made unbelievable progress, instant and constant information, medical and other health advances, cars and smartphones … all of the things today we call living and, of course, more regulations, higher taxes … well, you get the drift.
This final paragraph changes directions: How great it was a couple of weeks ago when the Gravette Lions and Arkansas Razorbacks both got on the same page. The Lions defeated Shiloh Christian after 15 years of drought; the Hogs pulled one out of the fire, hopefully, to get on a long winning streak. This is being written before last Friday’s games. The result, we hope, was a continuing “Go Hogs” and that both the Lions and Pioneers fare well in the playoffs.
I wonder, do they still print IT? I mean “Weekly Readers”?