1957 vs. 2007… or “You just want the fifties back!”

Thanks to Sacramentum vitae (the blog, not the Eucharist) I have this to share from Professor Tony Esolen at Mere Comments posts the following satire from a reader.

How many times have some of us heard from the spittle-flecked lips of an aging-hippie "You… you… you just want the fifties back!"

Think about it in regard to a public school.

SCHOOL – 1957 vs. 2007

Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.
1957 – Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack’s shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2007 – School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1957 – Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2007 – Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario: Jeffrey won’t be still in class, disrupts other students.
1957 – Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the Principal. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 – Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 – Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 – Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy’s mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school .
1957 – Mark shares aspirin with Principal out on the smoking dock.
2007 – Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.
1957 – Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.
2007 – Pedro’s cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro’s English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.
1957 – Ants die.
2007 – BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny’s Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957 – In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2007 – Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

As Tony says, "It’s a witty exaggeration of our current madness, but not much of an exaggeration, either." Indeed, what’s common to all those scenarios is "the loss of trust." See Matthew 24: 12.


 Think of this now in terms of the Church.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Daniel Muller says:

    No comments so far. For my part, I could talk all day about both forms of the Mass in Latin (as well as the one in English, the BDW), but I know nothing about the 1950’s. I would say most people my age get their ideas about the 1950’s from television sitcoms, but, apart from a few episodes of “Happy Days,” which was already manufactured nostalgia in the 1970’s, I have not even seen those.

  2. john says:

    Excellent! Although i come from Australia. Those comparsions ring just as true.
    Just time frame is changed. For us it would be 1980 v 2007.

  3. Felipe says:

    Bernstein’s operetta “Trouble in Tahiti” stands in contrast to this blithe portrayal of life in the 1950s. Having been born long afterward, I can only say that there is no clear picture painted of the 1950s. One person assures me they were horrible times masquerading as prosperity and happiness. Another will say that, no, it really was like “Leave it to Beaver”.

    I do believe that, economically, the culture had many reasons to take pride in itself. I also believe that situations like “dad hits child with belt” might not have been the best fixes for inappropriate behavior. FWIW.

  4. Robert says:

    Father Z: This inspired me so much that I posted it on my blog too. Then I added this scenario:

    Scenario: At Our Lady of Good Weather Parish, more families have moved in and Joe from Poughkeepsie asks his pastor if it would be possible to have a Tridentine Latin Mass.
    1957-The pastor responds by adding another Mass. Everyone’s needs are respected and met.
    2007-The pastor angrily snaps, “Nobody here wants that Mass! You need to find another parish. We have too many Masses to do on Sunday already!” He tells Joe that he is uptight and out of touch with the Church and glares at him every time he comes to Mass. Joe volunteers to teach CCD and, even though they need teachers, the pastor refuses to allow him to teach because he says Joe is too “rigid” and “pre-Vatican II.” Joe is forced to drive two hours to find a Tridentine Latin Mass and he and his family are paraiahs in the parish, thanks to the gossip initiated by the pastor. The pastor then reduces the time for confessions to 10 minutes on Thursday afternoons. He always shows up late and is annoyed that he has to listen to people recite their boring sins to him. Father does seem happy, however, when he welcomes the district’s pro-abortion congressman as the guest speaker to the parish fundraising dinner.

  5. Joel says:

    I think this provides another good contrast between 1957 and 2007.


    The description:
    This is a video made for Alumni Day 2007 at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. The premise is that the class of 1957 made a short film about what the seminary would be like in 2007.

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