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« 60 years later | Main | Is Middle East Free For All What We Want »


60 Years later

By Ken Poland
January 31, 2013

I think the maximum SS deduction for the year was $78. And there were complaints that those my age would never draw a dime of it back. Farm labor, self employed farmers, and, I think other self employed folks were not eligible to be covered by SS. There were very few non union jobs that provided health insurance or retirement benefits. Workers in large manufacturing and production factories had successfully organized and had raised the standard of living for a significant number of laborers, but the small companies and employers were free to hire and fire at will and paid only what they had to to keep help. Union wages were a positive influence, even for those without union representation. And believe it or not, businesses flourished, hard workers were rewarded, and the wealthy continued to do quite well.

I remember very well the sit in at a lunch counter downtown. The blacks couldn't sit at the counter for lunch. Schools were still pretty much 'separate but equal'. What a farce that was. Separate was sure but equality was not even close. Wichita had grown rapidly during WW2 and that meant segregation in housing wasn't as evident as in other towns or communities, but it was noticeable and schools with any significant number of colored children had a definite influence on real estate values and homes in the vicinity. Those economic values, and yes, the moral values in community had an effect on amenities and values in the schools. Bussing may not have been fair for some children but it did much to integrate whole communities. You weren't automatically safe from segregated schools by simply selling at reduced prices and moving to all white communities.

When I was growing up, the county seat and main town in our area wouldn't let colored people stay overnight within the city limits. That didn’t change until several years after I got out of school. Greyhound bus passengers, if they were colored, couldn't disembark and go in for lunch. The school system could have colored troops come in for entertainment for the school children, but they had to journey on to somewhere else to find sleeping and eating quarters. Colored people could work on city or community projects, but they had to commute to work from outside the city. They could build our streets, schools, churches, homes, etc. but they couldn’t eat or sleep on our turf.

And, you know what? That was back in the good old days when God was, supposedly, present in our schools and public offices. The 'good' Christian leaders in the community organized fund drives and gathered throw away clothing, bedding, etc. to take to the poor and misfits in society. But, we wanted them to stay in their place and take what we deemed they deserved.

The civil rights era of the late ’50-‘70s revolutionized society and the political world. The, so called Christian, southern Democrats decided they didn’t like the direction of the federal government and became today’s Christian southern Republicans. I, personally, have a problem with thinking ‘Christian’ is an honest identifier for either party’s platform. Christian, to me, means identifying with Christ and his gospel of salvation and social justice. In spite of all the hype about us being a Christian nation, I’m not sure the majority of society bases their economic and social standards on Christ’s examples. In fact, few lay people who identify themselves as practicing Christians can explain any relevance of Christ’s miracles or message to direct their church’s involvement in social needs of society, today. God’s Grace not our piety is the bases for God blessing America.


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