Sometimes things just don’t work out…know what I mean?
I mean…I really wanted to be a star in the firmament that would leave a legacy; that would burst onto the scene in a blaze of glory; whose birth would be cause for great celebration throughout the world. No, no, not the Jesus thing; that had already been done a number of centuries before and the star in the East bit is only good for one showing.
But no, I was deprived [some have also said depraved but we’ll go into that another time] by the events of the year 1934 from my moment in the sun; my years of fame and magnanimity; my…well…let’s just say that things didn’t go as well as one might hope. Mother never talked about hours or days of labor. When I was growing up, those things were kept quite private and to one’s self. Father in the delivery room? Are you shitting me? That would be, in today’s parlance, like having the entire medical staff present at the moment of conception, probably standing around with drinks in hand and feeding from trays of canapés carried through the crowd by illegal aliens in those short maid outfits [who are being paid $9.25 an hour and damned happy to be getting it]. No, privacy – that’s priv-a-cee in this case – and dignity were the social mores of the time and one just did not deviate.
As a consequence of all of the above, I just popped out sometime on the morn of September first in the year of our, etcetera, etcetera, silver nitrate dropped into the eyes and me dropped gently onto a scale to weigh in at 7 pounds 8 ounces or there about. No bands; no fanfares. I’m not certain how Dad even paid for the hospital since I’m now aware that even in ’34, the Great Depression was still a part of life for many people including my parents. These were tough times, and without sounding overly ghoulish, World War two coming along actually helped many Americans to get back on their feet. It was at a horrible truth, but, in all honesty, it appears to be the truth.
The year started off with a bang [get your mind out of the gutter please] as Duquesne beat Miami 33-7 in the Orange Bowl and Columbia beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl 7 – 0. Right away you can see that things have really changed on the collegiate football front. Duquesne now plays in Division 1 AA and Columbia, sad to say, has been something of a doormat in the Ivy League for many a moon. Also on the first of the year, Dr. Francis E. Townsend of Long Beach, California announced an Old Age Revolving Pensions Plan. The Townsend Plan would give all those over 60 years of age $200 to spend. It wasn’t until a year and a half later that President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. See, I told you it was a fascinating year in which to be born.
By the end of Mother’s first trimester in March, Academy Awards had been presented to Charles Lawton for Henry VIII, and Katherine Hepburn was named best actress for Morning Glory. The outstanding picture award went to Calvacade. Ironically, two months later, a horse named Calvacade won the Kentucky Derby. This was also the first year of the annual Masters Golf Championship in Augusta and was won by Horton Smith.
As Mother was approaching her sixth month of pregnancy, she was upstaged by the birth of the Dionne Quintuplets as well as the killing of Bonnie Clyde. FDR signed the Securities Exchange Act, establishing the Securities and Exchange Commission and immediately put the fox into that hen house by naming Joe Kennedy as the first chairman of the SEC. Congress passed nine bills in the month of June 1934, probably more than the 112th and 13th US Congresses have passed combined.
During the summer, Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber, won his first professional fight, Babe Ruth hit his 700th homerun, and John Dillinger’s life came to an end when the bank robber was shot to death outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago.
By the time I was one week old, I’m certain that Mom and Dad were probably mourning the death of the 134 people who died in a fire aboard the liner Morro Castle of the coast of New Jersey. Word was that the crew of the ship let a small fire get out of control and then rowed off in most of the lifeboats, leaving the passengers to die. A couple of weeks later, Bruno Hauptman, an immigrant who could barely speak English was arrested for the kidnapping and murder of the baby of Charles Lindbergh and his wife.
By the end of 1934, Hitler and his Nazi Party had become the leaders of Germany. Stalin had begun his purge of those whom he thought might disagree with him. Japan had rejected a treaty with the US and Great Britain, and no one could see the spectre of another World War on the horizon.
It was an interesting year. I can’t say that I remember it well, but it was interesting nonetheless. To say that I have seen the world change physically as well as philosophically might be a bit of an understatement, but it’s been one hell of a ride. Have you ever checked back to learn what happened the year you were born, or how the world has changed in your lifetime? Give it a shot; you might get a few surprises.