Sunday, February 26, 2006

How the Times Have Changed....

My mother's brother died last week at age 81. This wasn't a shock, although it wasn't really expected either. Nor is it really a sad occasion, although it will be for those close to him. My uncle had led a full life and now lived in a good deal of pain from numerous by-pass operations. Further, his wife had preceded him a few years before. So the sadness in this case is for the survivors and their loss. My uncle's death now leaves my mother as the senior member of her branch of the family, at the relatively young age of 78.

But this is really just a jumping off point for this post. I went over to see my mother today to see how she was doing. Talking about family got us to wondering where the book of the family genealogy was hidden. One of my mother's cousins had once traced the family history back a good long way. When we found the book, which we had been trying to find for years, we also discovered a treasure trove of old family documents and pictures. Mom had been looking for one of those pictures for years. The picture showed a group of fifty or so people gathered for the 50th wedding anniversary of Mother's mother's mother's parents. (Just to distinguish exactly which set of Mom's great-grandparents they were.) It had been taken in 1925. (This was not the oldest picture we found, not by a few decades.)

But I'm not here to bear witness to the vast changes that have taken place since 1925. No, I'm here to bear witness to the vast changes that have taken place from the year 1973. Among all the other treasures, I found a card with mementoes that my maternal grandmother had saved marking important occasions of my sister's life. Included in this cache I found a program from my sister's high school baccalaureate and commencement programs:

Baccalaureate Program

June 3, 1973 5:00 P.M.
First United Methodist
Church of Orlando

Mr. Warren Coker, Organist

"God of Grace and God of Glory" No. 470

The Reverend Lloyd E. Meyer
Metropolitan Baptist Church

Reading of Scripture
Genesis 32: 24-30

Pastoral Prayer

Special Music
Trojan Ensemble
Mr. Leslie G. Knepper, Director

Baccalaureate Address ----
"The Inescapable Struggle" The Reverend Gene Zimmerman
First United Methodist Church of Orlando

"Oh God Our Help in Ages Passed" No. 28

The Reverend Lloyd E. Meyer

Metropolitan Baptist Church



Flowers and decorations compliments of
Maynard Evans High School Parent Teachers Association

Commencement Program

June 8, 1973 8:00 P.M.
Orlando Municipal

(Audience please remain seated during the
Processional and Recessional)

Mr. Warren Coker, Organist

The Rev. Richard Wezeman
Orlando Christian Reformed Church

William Frangus, Principal

President’s Message
Samuel Mark Adkins

James D. Pendley

Wanda Marie Yucius

Special Music
Maynard Evans High School Mixed Chorus
Directed by Leslie F. Knepper

Presentation of Class
H. Dale Brushwood
Class Sponsor

Awarding of Diplomas
William Frangus, Principal
Ronn J. Schwenn, Curriculum Research Associate
H. Dale Brushwood, Class Sponsor

Alma Mater

The Rev. Richard Wezeman
Orlando Christian Reformed Church

Maynard Evans High School Band

All this happened at a public high school in 1973! I can’t imagine so much overt religious content during the graduation of my class, the class of 1986. (Yeah, I dropped out, but that would have been my class.) Somehow, the cultural climate changed more between the 1973 and 1986 than it had between 1973 and 1919, the year my grandmother graduated from high school.


Aspasia M. said...

That's interesting. I guess a lot has changed, although I'm glad I didn't have to wear a skirt to school in the cold.

I graduated from a high school near Seattle in 1990. We had a Baccalaureate in the local Presbyterian church. It was optional, but, then again, so was the graduation ceremony. Most everyone was there.

A couple of ministers spoke and a nun was the featured speaker. She was fabulous. I still think about her speech.

But there wasn't religious content at the actual graduation.

Icepick said...

What struck me wasn't just how overtly religious the ceremony was, but how unselfconsiously so. Not so long ago, the country was predominantly Christian in culture, and now it pretty much isn't. The overt campaigning by various Christian sects and coalitions is most noteworthy because they HAVE to campaign for something as ultimately reivial as prayer in school. And they lose on all of the big issues!

As I mention in a post that came after this one, I'm an atheist, so the lack of Christian content doesn't bother me per se. But a huge cultural shift has taken place. Actually several! The last 50 years may have seen as much cultural change in the USA as the years 1900-1950 saw in Imperial Russia or China. What interesting times....

Aspasia M. said...

oh yes, I agree about the cultural change.

Although I think there were larger and more significant cultural and economic shifts from 1815-1840; and then from 1861-1865.

From 1815- 1845 we had the transportation revolution in the US. It used to cost more to ship grain from what is now the suburbs of Philly into the city then from the breadbasket (Ohio/IL) to Philladelphia by the 1840s. Steamboats, canals, and later, streetcars and trains changed things drastically.

Native-born American women used to have an average of 12-15 live births and it became much more common for middle-class families to have 4-6 kids. (I guess this was the time of the rise of the middle class in America.)

The population of cities like New York exploded. I mean - New York was about 12,000-15,000 people in the colonial era. American cities grew from those more modest sizes to a couple hundred thousand residents.

Things drastically changed for women during this time - the invention of stoves, less children, and a rising level of literacy. Oh, and women began to speak in public - at Temperance rallys and such. Prior to the 1830s it was very unusual for women to speak in public.

1861-65: Slavery, Civil War and Emancipation.
So huge. So many deaths. The outcome of the war changed the entire economy. Changed the definition of citizenship.

But I love the 19th century, so I tend to think about it a lot.