The country had regained its equilibrium. After a decade of economic collapse, followed by years of war, the United States was once again moving ahead in search of greatness. It took a cataclysmic war to pull the country out of a dark and bleak depression that had taken hold of the world in 1929. That same war demolished old empires and created new alliances and federations.
Hope once again could be felt across the country, a hardy land filled with men and women who came of age when a darkness huge and mighty hung heavily on the horizon. Teetering on the abyss, this greatest generation struggled and fought and suffered. They found strength in one another and the rightness of their cause. And when the battle had been won, they quietly returned home – to their cities and towns, to their families and friends.
In 1948, life, yet again, was grand! Vast fields of acreage were being covered with homes in something called the suburbs; business was good and employment soared. A huge assortment of consumer goods – dish washers, refrigerators and electric stoves; portable air conditioners, radios, stereos and tiny TVs – were spilling off assembly lines like stink off poop, all aimed at making life easier and more enjoyable. And please forgive the simile!
The American dream was alive, well and affordable – at least for the rich and the growing middle class. The average cost of a new home in the burbs was only $7,700 – three bedrooms and a bathroom, living room, dining room and kitchen – and a new car could be had for $1,250. A gallon of gas was only 16 cents and a loaf of bread a dime. All of that could easily be handled by most families when the average worker was making just under $3,000 a year – a small fortune in 1948!
Roosevelt was still being mourned by the masses three years after his death; Truman was in the White House and the cold war was growing chilly. Israel was declared a country and the summer Olympics was held in London.
The game of scrabble was introduced, an exciting way to spend the evening while listening to soap operas and comedies on the radio. Frank Sinatra remained hot and happening; so too Dean and Jerry, Jack Benny, Sid Ceasar and Arthur Godfrey. South Pacific opened on Broadway and Hamlet won the Oscar for Best Picture – go figure.
The mood in 1948 was festive and upbeat. Love was in the air and there was a birthrate so large and vibrant that people born during this period are now known as baby boomers. Among their numbers are politicians and artists; the rich, famous and infamous – Al Gore and Alice Cooper; Bernadette Peters, Andrew Lloyd Weber and Billy Crystal; Mikhail Baryshnikov and Ozzy Osbourne; Julie Nixon and David Eisenhower; Richard Simmons and Jerry Mathers – that would be The Beaver!
It was also in 1948 that the lovely Miss Wendy found her way into this world, taking her very first breath exactly 63 years ago today in, well, Brooklyn. She was born a Yankee but her parents, Roz and Joe, had the good sense to whisk her south to Jacksonville a few years later. It was there that I met and married her in 1975.
If you do the math, that means we’ve spent nearly 36 years together – our anniversary is in November – and celebrated 35 birthdays with one another. I was lucky; I managed to pick a mate from a vintage year. And after all these years she’s managed to both mellow and hold onto her bubbly effervescence. I think maybe it’s time to, um, pop the cork!