Did you ever wonder what it is that makes us Americans? Foods, sports, music, special events, and literature are just some of the things that are part of defining Americana. Regardless of your station in society, we each have memories going as far back as our childhood, of things that we consider to be part of our own Americana. Below I’ve included some original photos of my small town America.
I’m not sure there is one true definition of Americana. Consider my small town U.S.A., a Main Street lined with mom & pop stores, like the small hardware store, complete with that hardware store smell, you know the one, the lunch counter named Artie’s, where mom was a waitress, a barber shop with a barber pole spinning outside, where barbers named Bud or Dom cut just father’s and their son’s hair (where as a kid you also may have heard and not understood your first dirty joke), and a delicatessen with a wood pickle barrel filled with fresh dill pickles soaking in vinegar brine. Main Street, where they held a Memorial Day or Fourth of July parade complete with fire trucks, bands, floats with some new Miss Something or Other waving down at you from on high, WW II and Korean War vets from the local V.F.W. (which my father was one) marching patriotically in step with their flags and rifles. A parade in which at some point, someone will come along and throw Dubble Bubble bubblegum at you when what you hoped to get was Bazooka gum with the Bazooka Joe comic inside. Suburban America in the 1960’s… where your parents moved to get away from the big city. What historians call suburban sprawl. At my age, I still remember that town, the town I grew up in, with shop owners who were on the volunteer fire department, who left their stores when called, any time of day, regardless of who was in the store. This picture of small town living and growing up in the 1960’s truly defines everyday life in my Americana. Sadly, for many, this picture, these memories of small town America are quickly disappearing. They did in my former small town…
For my kids, my Americana, my town, is just a town that exists in a Norman Rockwell painting or some other ancient artifact (me) from the 1960’s. Although to be honest, they probably don’t know who Norman Rockwell is, although for many of us, his work will always be a part of true Americana.Their world, their town, is constantly changing, filled with too many strip malls and large box stores, and the over-development of just about every open space available. There is always some new version of technology becoming available to upload or download, Friends they have…but have never met…a world constantly rebooting. Their own version of Americana… Generation Y Americana.
Over my next 5 or so posts I will be looking at some of the things and events that help to define my Americana including, but not limited to, sports, music, transportation, television and media, food, and family life. Much of it will be about things as they were, because isn’t much of Americana about remembering?
If you’ve made it this far thanks, and I hope you will read the other posts in this series. And, if you’re one of the few who read this, please feel free to send me your memories or comment on what you’ve read.