American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
June 26, 2002
READY FOR THE ROARING '20s?
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Birthdays are a time to think back and plan ahead; at least, that's how I pass them. So, thinking back, I realize I was born a decade too late for the Roaring '20s, a time of life last century that affected almost every decade to follow. The era was a turning point in style, attitude, technology, social mores and, of course, was preserved on the silver screen. We have the movies; we can see it, hear it and almost taste it.
The Roaring '20s were something I couldn't be part of and yet my own time was one of looking back and longing for the freedom that burst on the scene with such a sound track that even now I'd dance in the middle of the street if I heard the tunes they collectively cvalled the Charleston.
But I wasn't there. My heyday began in the '40s, on the homefront. We were deprived; we survived. There was joy in being 16, of course, but that's a given. Then, on into the '50s - boring! There was style, no doubt about it, but it was flatg. Eisenhower was President, ho hum. The most exciting speech of that administration was when Vice President Nixon defended his dog, Checkers.
The '60s was a decade that broke new ground, but not with the spirit that burst loose in the '20s. Somehow, short skirts, brassy music, rhinestones, and a flask in fringe-topped hosiery lent a different picture of a decade than torn jeans, tattoos, hiding in dark corners under a cloud of forbidden smoke, then rolling around in the mud on an upstate New York farm declaring independent thought and rights of freedom from anything - anything at all - that smacked of what is appropriate behavior.
The '70s gave way to very independent thought: Everyone wore a golf shirt with an alligator embroidered on it, and tan khaki pants and penny loafers - as if they invented the look. That uniform lasted until Madonna exercised her right to independent thought, and in the '80s, the wannabe Madonnas came out to play.
If something were bought in a thrift shop, it went with anything else bought in a thrift shop. Designers set style according to what the customers were wearing but not buying from them. So, torn jeans, faded and frayed around the edges could be bought "brand new" in the finest shops. Anything goes, but the only independent thinker that decade was Madonna..
In the '20s, "Anything Goes" was Cole Porter's take on the scene: "In olden days a glimpse of stocking/ was thought of as something shocking,/ now goodness knows, anything goes."
the '80s and '90s went by in a blur, and the first decade of this century is on its way. My driver's license keeps expiring - was it really four years ago I had that picture taken? Those born in these latter decades of my life will never know a day without cellphones, digital everything, technology far beyond our ability to comprehend and not an inkling of what an 8-track is. Is it too much too soon? No. They have what they have. And we are amazed by what we have only because of the days we didn't have whatever "it" may be this week.
I find myself wondering if I'll make it to the next Roaring Twenties. Will it be another decade of decadence as they called the last '20s? Will it be noisy as with the original roar? Or will it be a time of rebellion - quiet plotting and rebellion? Make love not war, unless it's war against anything or anyone holding you back. That's an echo of the '60s.
One thing for sure: the '20s are coming in only 18 years. I believe it will be a noiseless transition into that time, 100 years from the last time - a time when confetti and noisemakers were not reserved for New Year's Eve. It was a time when for a lark the twentysomething women would tote a small ivory-handled revolver in their beaded purse and enjoy being called "pistol packin' mamas."
This time, mark my words, it will be quiet. Quiet, not because of ordinances, but because we're tired of noise, panic buttons, alarms, telephones ringing, horns blaring, and music that cost us our eardrums in the '70s. In the first decade of 2000, we spend more time with telephones to our ears than face-to-face conversations, and we never break stride to do it.
I missed the end of the last Roaring '20s by two years. The next time around I'll be 88, and, as we all know, when you're 88, anything goes.