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Dancing Through The Great Depression

Marlene Geiser

Posted on April 6, 2018 12:44

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This morning, listening to some old jazz music brought back memories of the days when I was growing up. A question came to mind: Have we really accomplished much since then? That was a more innocent time.

My mother and father never missed the chance to get up on a dance floor. They were two people who loved to dance. As a little girl I remember watching them from the table of a nightclub in New York where the two of them made their way around the dance floor. Happiness shone in both their faces, and they radiated joy as the hot jazz music played.

Years later, I can still see my father dancing alone as he played some of the old records he treasured. He really loved the music of men like Louis Armstrong and others who played those happy tunes.

Sitting here and writing, YouTube -- courtesy of my daughter -- is delivering some of that sound to my old ears, and the memories make me want to return to a better time when life was very different than it is today.

On Sundays, my father and I also danced, leaving me with memories that make me smile and feel happy again. The one thing that bothers me is that the world in which I live seems to have lost some of the enthusiasm that strangely permeated the 1930's and '40s.

What is ironic is that some of the great jazz came out of a period in American history when it was deep in the throes of the Depression, but it surely is anything but depressed. It radiates a spirit of hope that we appear to have misplaced these days.

There are times when I'd love to take a magical ride back to my youth. As I remember it, life then radiated an innocence and simplicity that would be wonderful to enjoy again. Sure, people had their problems. War was rampant both east and west of us. Diseases like polio attacked, putting helpless children in mortal jeopardy, and many were out of work and struggling to put food on the table. But my parents kept dancing, and the music played.

The question that refuses to leave my mind is whether we have truly accomplished much. Are computers better than radios and phonographs? Do people really care about the other guy anymore? Should there be so many people sleeping on the street in cardboard boxes, while others live in luxury? Perhaps we have chosen the wrong gods to worship. Money surely pays the bills, but it doesn't always do the job. The thing that counts is concern for the other guy.

One has to wonder whether we weren't better off in a more innocent time when alcohol was a threat, but loving family dinners were the norm, and people like my parents danced to happy music and still saw tomorrow as something promising.

I find myself in a strange dilemma. Remembering those days makes me want them back again, and what I am left with is how I treat my neighbor. Do I still have a way to put a smile on another face? Is dancing to great jazz a potential solution?

Marlene Geiser

Posted on April 6, 2018 12:44

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