WE WERE NEVER A CURRIER AND IVES COUPLE – GARRY ARMSTRONG

The title comes from an episode of “The West Wing” which we are binging again in this early spring of discontent and dismay.  The series is even better this time around, a great mental prescription from the Coronavirus while our world seeks a political hangover cure.

Many of us, struggling with the present, have tinted memories of the past, recent and distant.  There’s the yearning for the good old days when our lives were more stable and strife seem relegated to small countries on the other side of the world. We were younger, more innocent and more naive.

The Currier and Ives (or Norman Rockwell) images dominate our collective memories.  It’s a return to Main Street, white picket fences in Pleasantville that never really existed except in TV Land. You can almost smell those Sunday dinners with the family gathered around the table, roast turkey, mashed potatoes, hot buns and the smell of apple pie baking in the oven.

The memories seem so real you can almost touch them.  We yearn for them right now in this time of plague and uncertainty. We ache for those days when we could believe in our political leaders and when sports was an unchallenged relief from the headaches of yesteryear and yesterday.  When Mom and Dad could calm our fears and we weren’t responsible for our lives. The way we were.  Or were we?

We don’t remember Mom and Dad quietly wrestling with problems we didn’t understand because we were kids. We usually were told that there were no worries.  “You’ll understand when you grow up,” we were told.

We took those reassurances to bed, sure that everything would be okay in the morning.  Our tomorrows usually erased our youthful, short-term angst.

Many of us are now in the autumn of our years.  Mom and Dad are gone and we are left to make sense of today’s madness for our children and grandchildren. It’s difficult to explain, to find answers for all that’s gone wrong.  How do you make sense of a world turned upside down before your eyes?  We’re not living Currier and Ives lives and really, never were. We’re left wondering if those romanticized images of our youth have any truth.

Maybe it’s easier to believe that those were the good, old days rather than trying to stomach reality.  It’s like clinging to the images of old films with Hollywood endings. We’re desperate for heroes, good news, and happy endings for these long dark nights that drag into the morning. We’re not Currier and Ives but it’s nice to recall times when life seemed easier. When we could laugh freely and look forward to tomorrow.

I can see Wolf Blitzer and friends laughing in the Situation Room — with NO breaking news.

Here’s something to think about: give yourself a break. If there’s nothing you can do, do nothing and enjoy it. Everything is in motion, everything is changing. Relax now. Who knows what will be coming down the road in another week?

29 thoughts on “WE WERE NEVER A CURRIER AND IVES COUPLE – GARRY ARMSTRONG

  1. HI Garry, I have been reflecting on the world in general, and individual peoples, reactions to this awful virus and I have concluded that humanity is overwhelmed because we are so far removed from nature and the realities of life. Plagues have struck mankind many times in the past and wreaked devastation on people for a period, but people seemed to deal with it better. They knew they needed to do certain things and they did them without being belligerent and defiant (I’m think of the youths who are still congregating on beaches and in cities in defiance of the lock down requests). Modern people think that doctors and modern medicine will solve all their medical problems and they don’t really understand mortality. In the past, people could die from a cold so they took the necessary precautions with understand and without complaint. I hope this makes some sort of sense, but I am grappling to try and understand the modern response to this crisis.

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    • People didn’t deal with them better. There were fewer people, but otherwise, during the Black Plague in many parts of the world, entire cities and provinces were wiped out. Nobody has the full numbers, but at least 1/3 of all living people died and many historians think it was a lot closer to 60% or more.

      There were no peasants left to till the soil, so there was also starvation. There was no medicine. There were places in England where literally NO ONE survived. That isn’t better. There was just less communication. The 14th century has been much written about because those were the worst years the human race had ever experienced. The Plague hit in 1347 and returned three times during that century. No antibiotics, no hospitals, no central government in many areas. Everyone was poor because the Crusades had bankrupted much of the nobility.

      Some good came out of it, but the good was the result of so many people dying. Because the number of people was greatly reduced, especially peasants (serfs), these people were able to make much better terms of employment if they survived. The great manors were desperate for workers, so in many places, they could make a much better deal. Technically, serfs were tied to the land, but when so many of the lords and ladies were dead, they were free to find a better deal and they did.

      But closeness to the land didn’t help anyone. What helped was cleanliness, hygiene, and a lack of rats. Jews who were “locked up” anyway survived better because they were a lot cleaner than their neighbors and they live in areas with walls and didn’t go out much into the community. They also had better doctors.

      Plagues do hit. How much damage they do has everything to do with the nature of the disease and how lethal it is. This one is less lethal than the Spanish flu of WWI, but it is very fast-moving. It hasn’t mutated, which means that when they finally find a vaccine, it’s likely to be a long term vaccine and unlike the flu, won’t require annual inoculations. It’s also less of a killer than earlier plagues. But for all our medical advances, it responds to none of the medications we know about. And there are far too many morons in charge. The U.S. had a lot of notice that this was coming and we did nothing. That’s not a lack of touch with the good earth. It’s just good old-fashioned bad government.

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    • Yes, bring back Cronkite and, even Ed Murrow for an even stronger dose of no frills reality. Donzo would be doing the 2 step – backwards.

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    • I’ll go with Donna Reed (You can even play The Richie Valens classic) any time. I never looked at those stilettos.

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  2. Every word is so true, Marilyn. My one thought tho, is that those feel-good weekly shows were something to aspire to..unlike the Kardashians of the world that are so materialistic, so self-centred and egotistical that our teens and young people are aspiring for materialism for materialism’s sake. There are no goals to aspire to. I loved star trek for that reason. Picard and his crew had moved on from the pettiness of money and greed to expending our learning and experience on a global and interstellar scale. At least it was something to aspire to. He fought the political climate that was corrupt and stood his ground. Something I doubt our young people will ever know understand or be able to accomplish. Our education system has failed them and they learn only what they need to survive and how to check the voting card. I know that seems pretty pessimistic but at the moment, it’s how I see things. They’re considering invoking marshall law in Canada because people aren’t staying home…it won’t happen to me, I can’t get it, as they party onward and maybe they won’t get “it” but there are enough cases and it’s spreading, and how else would it be able to spread if people weren’t spreading “it”. Such selfish carelessness annoys me completely.

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    • I think the good news is that most of our kids don’t watch TV much anymore. Unfortunately, they do pick up a lot of this crap on the net, but at least they aren’t deluged by the perfect lives of people who never really lived. I’m not sure which is worse — the idiotic Kardashians and other “tweetsters” or Donna Reed doing the housework in 4″ stiletto heels.

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    • Leslie, I agree with you. The Kardashians have accrued very little professional merit for their “fame”. You can quibble about the illusory truth of Reed’s TV family life. But the actress had a solid career, including an Oscar for her against type work in “From Here To Eternity”. We had reason to believe in the images of old Hollywood. A different generation, yes, but more satisfying even when we get peeks behind the legends.

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      • The problem is that most “reality” shows are such crap with skewed values and start below ground level with nowhere to go. They don’t go up because it’s not in their best interests. If I were going to put a romantic spin on it, I’d say they tried to pull off a Rex Harrison moment where he boasted he could take a humble flower girl and turn her into a lady and ppl would buy into it.

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  3. The “good old days” are akin to “the Golden Years,” another myth we swallowed. Life is just living out the realities of the situations that confront us, and we do our best to survive them. However, we can choose to enjoy everything that gives us pleasure and to give love to those around us. That’s a real free choice.

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    • It’s just a bit tricky these days. At least we snagged a big roll of toilet paper today. One less thing we need. Tomorrow, we need to get to the store at 6 am because, as we all know, senior citizens are up at the crack of dawn (NOT). We need food. All we have left are hot dogs and frozen chicken and I’m going to get pretty tired of hot dogs pretty fast! I didn’t really love them in the first place, but Garry really loves hot dogs. I think they go with his passion for baseball and movie theaters 🙂

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    • I still use the movies from old Hollywood as my escape from today’s realities. I do that even knowing it’s pablum. However, THAT spoonful of sugar is still sweeter than what’s available these days. Yes, it’s free choice and it still works for me. I desperately needed Frank Capra after watching yesterday’s pitiful Coronavirus update from our heavy breathing, addled Pontificator-In-Chief.

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  4. That’s what I tell my children when they lament about the troubles of today. There has always been wars, rumours of wars, pestilence and all manner of problems and yet our parents and grandparents managed to get by. This too will pass. We need to have faith in the future.
    Leslie

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  5. What great advice in your last para! Thank you for that. We DO TEND to get sucked in to the general doom and misery.
    West Wing which we only saw years after it’s production, stays engraved in my mind. How often did we say, even when watching it: if only the political leaders were all so decent. When the truly GOOD wd be allowed to get out…. And common sense and kindness would prevail. When you had Obama….

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    • Obama made plenty of mistakes, but he did his best and his best was pretty good. He was intelligent, thoughtful, and often fun to watch. He was not perfect, but he WAS a president … not this piece of meatloaf we currently have in the White House.

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    • Kiki, yes. “The West Wing” may be our Capra, our “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”. It’s inspirational but it also has hard truths about the often shady business of politics. So, it’s not just Hollywood pablum. The lead characters are idealistic but all have their demons, falter as well as succeed. They give us “the better angels” I knew in real life with folks like Tip O’Neill. Marilyn and I grin at the domestic battles of POTUS and FLOTUS. They remind us of us. That’s reality and it’s what makes “The West Wing” so special. It’s idealistic but grounded in reality. I marvel at the myriad layers of thought. I still tear up at many scenes and wish episodes ran longer. The writing is to die for as is the acting and the production. I don’t think our current POTUS could begin to appreciate “The West Wing”. That’s too bad, especially right now.

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