The ‘Golden Age’ Depends Upon Your Age
By Tom Morrow
We often hear the phrase “that was back in the ‘golden age’ (of whatever you want to discuss – television, movies, lifestyle, politics, cars). Probably the most commonly discussed “golden age’ has to do with communication – and, depending upon your age, that can take in a wide variety of subjects — magazines, newspapers, television, and radio.
Remember Collier’s, Saturday Evening Post, Life, or Look? No? Then you hadn’t made your arrival here on earth until after the 1950s. Among many others, these were popular weekly magazines that were the ‘People” magazines of their day. News magazines such as Time and U.S. News & World Report were in they heyday by mid-century.
One could say the late 1800s to the first half of the 20th century was the golden age of newspapers. Every major city in America had at least two newspapers. New York City had seven. Interestingly enough, today overseas cities such as London, Paris, Melbourne, Sydney, and Berlin each have more than four. Most of those cities sell their newspaper via street vendors. Door-to-door delivery seems to be an American thing. Today, Los Angeles has just one (there were three until the late seventies. Chicago still has three down from four, and New York City is down to three from seven until the seventies.
We’d have to include a golden age of automobiles during the twenties through the sixties. Some of the most inventive vehicles were born and sold. The Stanley Steamer (yes, it was powered by steam and went very fast). And there was the luxurious hand-built Duesenberg, which was a ‘real doozie.” There were a number of electric-powered cars. Those left from the “Greatest Generation” will remember the Graham, and the Cord. Those of us who have been around since the thirties, forties and fifties remember Packard, DeSoto, Willys, Kaiser, Frasier, Crosley, and, for a very short time, the Tucker? One of the best-built, but ugliest was probably was Ford’s Edsel. It just didn’t attract enough drivers. The grill might have had something to do with it.
Radio’s golden age began in the late twenties and lasted little more than two decades (1930s through the 1940s). Many of future TV star performers, sit-com and drama formats were developed during this period. But anyone born after 1950 would probably not have experienced the comedy, drama, quiz shows and more that were given birth during that period. Many of us rushed home from school to listen in on “The Lone Ranger,” “Sky King,” “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon,” and “Straight Arrow.”
On Sunday afternoons it was “The Shadow,” and “Nick Carter, Private Eye.” Weeknights it was “Johnny Dollar” and “Lux Radio Theater.” Every night “Fibber McGee & Molly,” “Bob Hope, “Jack Benny, “George Burns & Gracie Allen” made us laugh.
Nowadays when the “Golden Age” of anything is mention, the first thing that comes to mind is television. While most of us associate that time period with the fifties, it really isn’t true. Years from now people will look back on the present time period as “The Golden Age of Television.” Think about it – television sets, programming, and reception has never been as good as it is now. No more “snowy” pictures … “fade-outs,” or “test patterns.” Television sets are bigger, better, and lower-priced than ever before.
Today’s television programming is far-reaching. There’s very little that you can think of that isn’t available on a wide variety of “streaming” channels. Movie theaters have all but been wiped because of today’s modern era of television. “On Demand” programming has new movies available while they’re still in the theaters – if you can find one that hasn’t closed down. Cable TV offers 24-hour news and talking heads spewing all sorts of opinions.
In some ways, television, computers, cell phones, and video games are almost too good – they keep us on our butts and dangerously inactive. You could say we’re presently in the “Golden Age of Indulgence.”
SCAG SEZ: “Have you ever noticed that the only people who don’t think they’re fat are fat people?” – Cecil Scaglione, Mature Life Features.