Good Old Days?

Cheri Thurston

When CAPA member Barb Truax of American Canyon, California, was doing some cleaning, she found a comic book that was evidently a give-away promotional piece for accordion teachers and studios, complete with a coupon on the back for one free lesson. It tells the story of a boy named Tom, who goes to an accordion concert with his parents. He is smitten and knows, immediately, that the accordion is for him. “I could meet a lot of people and be popular too,” he thinks.

Tom learns to play the accordion and becomes the popular, self-assured young man he had dreamed about, all because of the accordion. 

    

Times have changed just a bit. It’s hard to imagine a teenager who would think that showing up at parties, accordion in tow, would be a sure route to success. And if Tom, the boy in the story, lived today, he probably wouldn’t even own a suit, let alone show up at a party or at school wearing one.

Were times ever really like those portrayed in the comic book? Certainly, life was probably more innocent in the late forties, fifties, and early sixties. It’s very easy to become nostalgic for the good old days.

It’s also easy to forget the down side to those days. Sure, playing the accordion was considered “cool.” Sure, life was probably simpler. Yet segregation was still legal in this country. Rights that women take for granted today were unheard of. In many ways, many people had less freedom to pursue their dreams.

Even in the early seventies, when I was in college, equal pay for equal work was pretty much nonexistent. I remember working at Griff’s Burger Bar in college, doing exactly the same work as the guys on staff, and getting paid much less—simply because I was a girl. After I graduated and went on to my first teaching job, a married teacher friend of mine was forced to quit after she became pregnant. “It wouldn’t be good for the kids to see you that way,” she was told. Her job? Teaching classes for pregnant teenage girls.

 Whenever I feel nostalgic for the good old days of the accordion, I also think about going to school in the fifties during snowstorms, freezing my legs because girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school. Some things about the good old days really weren’t so good at all!