My promise holds true with two conditions: (1) you’re under 40 (2) your imagination isn’t.
Okay, imagine with me a small green neighborhood where Norman Rockwell lived many years ago. I’m not thinking of his official home in New England, but his unofficial place on the far westside of Chicago during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the War of the 1940s, postwar America of the 1950s. Where a lot of us on CHICAGONOW once lived.
If you’re still holding my hand, notice a remarkably different America. Almost exactly as he used to paint it.
Take just one simple adolescent scene that played out here, summer day after summer day. You got up in the morning and rushed through a Wheaties breakfast…hopped on your Schwinn bike…pedaled down side streets joyously stuffed with overhanging Elms and Maples, the fresh smell of hand-mowed lawns, and a concerto of approximately a million June birds. Along the way you meet some of the horse drawn milk trucks…notice neighbors putting white sheets out to dry on their laundry lines…finally reach your best friend’s house: “Hey, Johnny, whattaya want do do today?”
Which meant we were all going to ad lib life together between now and dinner. The idea was to squeeze this gorgeous day out like an over-ripe orange? Without organized games. supervised swimming. iPads, smartphones, day camps or corner drug deals. But with a whole bunch of ten-cent, all-day-movies-with- cartoons where we can end up the day strolling right into for as long as we wanted.
You see here’s the thing. It was a simpler less sophisticated America for kids. Yeah, we were far less connected with the world. But dreaming back, so much more connected with our small piece of it
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