Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Only Yesterday 02 (Continued)

Only Yesterday
Frederick Lewis Allen
New York: Bantam Books, 1931.
An ironic view of the 1920s, from the end of World War I to the collapse of the stock market in 1929.


Calvin Coolidge on what to do with the "Reds": My motto for the Reds is S.O.S.--ship or shot. I believe we should place them all on a ship of stone, with sails of lead, and that their first stopping place should be hell. p. 41.

The KKK: ...the preposterous vocabulary of its ritual could be made the vehicle for all that infantile love of hocus pocus and mummery, that lust for secret adventure, which survives in the adult whose lot is cast in drab places. p. 46.

KKK: To unite white male persons, native-born Gentile citizens of the United States of America, who owe no allegiance of any nature to any foreign government, nation, institution, sect, ruler, person or maintain forever white supremacy. p. 47.

The division of public opinion on the [Sacco-Venzetti] case was largely a division between those who thought radicals ought to be strung up n general principles and those who thought that the test of a country's civilization lay in the scrupulousness with which it protected the rights of minorities. p. 60.

....millions of [ex-soldiers] had been provided with an emotional stimulant from which it was not easy to taper off. Their torn nerves craved the anodynes of speed, excitement, and Passion. They found themselves expected to settle down into the humdrum routine of American life as if nothing had happened, to accept the moral dicta of elders who seemed to them still to be living in a pollyanna land of rosy ideals which the war had killed for them. They couldn't do it, and they very disrespectfully said so., p. 66.

Sex, it appeared, was the central and pervasive force which moved mankind. Almost every human motive was attributable to it; if you were patriotic or liked the violin, you were in the grip of sex--in a sublimated form. The first requirement of mental health was to have an uninhibited sex life.... And clergymen who preached about the virtue of self-control were reminded by outspoken critics that self-control was out of date and really dangerous. p. 69.

Meanwhile a new sort of freedom was being made possible by the enormous increase in the use of the automobile, and particularly of the closed car.... The automobile offered an almost universally available means of escaping temporarily from the supervision of parents or chaperones, or from the influence of neighborhood opinion.... The automobile had become a 'house of prostitution on wheels'.... p. 70.

The publishers of the confession magazines, while always instructing their authors to provide a moral ending and to utter pious sentiments, concentrated n the description of what they euphemistically called 'missteps.' p. 71.

To be continued.

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