Thursday, October 26, 2006

Being Brought up Small Town Democrat in Wisconsin

Eisenhower was President. Radios took forever to warm up and the furnace alternately was fed wood and coal. Taking a walk through the railroad switch-yard meant carrying a bag (paper of course, plastic didn't exist) to pick up coal that had conveniently bounced out of the rail cars. Natural gas was coming but not yet to our neighborhood. Television was something the taverns and a few wealthier people had. Everyone subscribed to the daily newspaper and I was learning to read. I never heard a bad word uttered towards President Eisenhower (IKE), Ed Gein (rhymes with fiend) had been caught, and the Milwaukee Braves always won. Through the miracle electronics of the day the newspaper carried a photo of Hank Aaron and I learned that my baseball hero was black, in black and white of course.

Sunday after church the chicken or the beef roast in the oven was turned up and stomachs growled in anticipation. The radio was warmed up for the noon news and the reading of the obituaries. At 12:15 my dad shushed up everyone at the table and the meal was finished in silence while we listened to the radio. William T. Evjue's voice would boom out of Madison as if he had to yell to make it heard across the state. The chief honcho of the Capital Times would exclaim: "Hellooooooo Wisconsin!", and for fifteen minutes we learned what went on in the state capitol and the nation's capitol. We knew it was safe to carry on conversation after he ended with, most notably: "Let the people have the truth, and the freedom to discuss it, and all will go well."

My dad, who rarely spoke, would on occasion be moved enough to comment. He liked Social Security and appreciated that those pennies were taken out of his paycheck to pay for it. Born 1913 he would talk about how things were before 1940 and the stories he heard about the years before he was born. He would tell that around the turn of the century (circa 1900) life was different for older folks. It was hard with a farm and a large family to take care of a grandparent who had dementia and couldn't control their bowels. (The term Alzheimers and the product Adult Diapers didn't exist.)

The solution, difficult as it was, was to hitch up the horses and drive grandma or grandpa to the next county, drop them off at the long entrance to the Poor Farm, yell 'giddy-up' and get away as fast as possible.

Why the next county? The County Poor Farm would take people in, but would send a bill to the adult children, who were in no shape to pay for it. People, realizing that care would be the same in either county, chose to leave them where there was no chance they would be recognized.

I used to laugh at this story. I never believed it. Later in life during a genealogy search of a distant relative I found an actual case. A man from Auroraville (Waushara County) was 'dumped' at the old Winnebago Poor Farm north of Oshkosh. He died some years after 1900. His wife in Auroraville told the census taker in 1900 that she was a outright lie!

My dad would always say that he was proud that the country had developed that program called Social Security and for all the complaining the Republicans did, a lot of them were collecting those checks and getting by.

My dad was right. Old folks are taken care of a Hell of a lot better than they were a century ago. The Republicans fought Social Security tooth and nail in the mid-1930's. Dust off the microfilm of any newspaper to read about it.

The Republicans were wrong about it then and they are still complaining about it. Democrats know that Social Security is a resounding success and possibly one of the greatest things to happen to the common person in recorded history.

All those kids born after WWII (1945), the ones now called Aging Baby Boomers are beginning to stress the system and will put pressure on it into the 2040's. The Republicans who can't think beyond that have to be made aware that the birthrate did drop and the Social Security system will not be as stressed as the Boomers die.

It's 2006 and there is an election around the corner. Vote for liberals, whether they be Democrats or Greens.

Vote against the corporations by voting against Republicans and conservative Democrats.

William T Evjue is gone as is my dad along with tube radios and all those wonderful things of the 1950's and 1960's. The Capital Times, the only liberal daily newspaper in America, is strong and getting stronger. There is a link for it on the right side of this blog and you can acquaint or re-acquaint yourself with the legacy, tradition, and future of Wisconsin by going there every day.

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