JimQ’s recent moving and eloquent eulogy “Until We Meet Again” for his father got me to musing on the lifetime of the Greatest Generation, of which my parents were also a part. My own father died a couple of years ago at the age of 82, and like Jim’s dad also served in WWII, enlisting at the age of 18 right at the close of the war and serving only briefly in the Navy as a cook on a Submarine.
This generation was born right at the close of the last 4 Turnings cycle into the maw of the Great Depression, but for those who survived that transition; for those who got on the bandwagon in one form or another, they enjoyed an ever increasing level of general prosperity in the FSofA where the horizons seemed limitless and where any boy could grow up from humble beginnings to become the CEO of a Multinational Corporation. Of course, MOST boys did not grow up to be that, most boys grew up and hitched a ride on the bus in one form or another at a fairly average wage in a fairly average job. For Jim’s dad, he got a Lifetime Job with Atlantic Refining earning a decent Wage driving a truck for some 40 years or so, up to the age of 59. For my dad, he went to Pace College in NYC on the GI Bill for his few months of service cooking on the sub and got a Bizness Degree, hooked up with the Republican Party for a while and through those connections and a knack for mathematics got selected for the Executive Training Program at Chase Manhattan. Of the three guys selected for that program, one of them eventually became CEO of Merrill Lynch, another started his own Bank in New Jersey. My dad remained a middle level apparatchik for Chase, spending his Glory Years in the 60s down in Brasil acquiring small Banks to bring under the umbrella of Chase. After that he did a similar thing Down Under in Australia in the 70s, and came very close to becoming a Big Cheese CEO himself down there in the acquisition of one of the Banks, but he made one of his many marital mistakes and got dragged back to the FSofA by his wife of that time, declining the position. He moved back to the US and took charge of the Systems Department at Chase in the main office, the precursor to today’s IT departments. He had a fairly magnificent office 2 floors below David Rockefeller on the same side of the building, which I got to see on the alternate Weekends he had custody of me in the Divorce Settlement.
Anyhow, as the 70s came to a close, many of the loans made to SA countries came back to haunt the balance sheets of TBTF banks like Chase Manhattan, and they went through a period of Downsizing. My dad was offered a Golden Parachute to take an early retirement at the age of 50, which he took, along with many other middle level executives at the bank at that time. Nothing like the multi-million dollar parachutes Pigmen get nowadays of course, but still a nice comfortable 6 figure Lifetime Annuity for giving approximately 25 years of his life for the greater glory and profit of Chase Manhattan and the Rockefeller family (members of which I met on many occasions through my boyhood years in Brasil, when my dad would host the visiting Elite for conferences with local Brasilian Banksters. My Pigman dad was very good with languages as well as math, and became fluent in Portuguese with just a few months of study prior to moving down there, so he served as interpreter for the Rockefeller group).
Anyhow, for both Jim’s dad and my own, they both got to retire in their 50s, though the Group Think here now seems to think that the French Rioting over their Retirement age being pushed back from 60 to 62 makes them unrealistic and greedy. Times change, eh? Here in the FSofA, we are certainly on the cusp of the retirement age being further pushed back from 65 to 68 or 70 to try to keep Social Security and various insolvent Pension Funds solvent a bit longer, if that even works and they don’t collapse altogether. I am already 3 years past the age my dad retired at, and I NEVER expect to retire. I expect to pretty much work until I am completely unable to do anything productive. After that, I’ll be taking that last Kayak trip out to sea or be giving myself up to the Bear as my ticket to the Great Beyond.
For Jim’s dad, upon returning from WWII he was able to buy a nice little house in a new suburb of Philadelphia, and by living through the growth years following WWII and maintaining a Lifetime Job with Atlantic, he was able to pay off that mortgage in 1985. My mom (dad’s first wife) also paid off her mortgage on the house he put a down payment on as part of the Divorce Settlement back in the early 70s. He bought that house on a 25 year mortgage for $30K, which at the top of the RE Bubble sold for around $300K, but mom missed that top and sold it for $200K in the late 90s. She took that money and put it into “safe” CDs, eschewing the big returns possible in the Stock Market through the last decade for Safety. She lost nothing when the market crashed in 2008, but on the other hand she made nothing while the market exploded from 1998 to 2008. Basically a wash there. She lives now on what little interest she gets from that, her Social Security and a Pension from her years of working for the CA State Franchise Tax Board as a Secretary in their NY office, her last job she held after the divorce for about 15 years until the age of 65. While married to my dad for the first 15 years of her adult life, she was just a Homemaker in the Ozzie and Harriet paradigm of the 1950s-60s. She was nowhere near as educated as my dad, nor anywhere near as smart as he was either. She was however an extraordinarily beautiful girl at the age of 19 when they got married. Going to work nearing age 40 with only a HS education was for her a very difficult transition, but a necessary one if she was to be able to keep the House, because the Alimony alone would not make all the payments. She managed to do it, and she managed to pay off that house. She is finishing the last days of her life at the moment still barely independent in a small apartment she rents near my sister in Springfield, MO, though my sister and I talk about moving her to a retirement home, even though decent ones would suck up most of the money she has in CDs, along with her Pension and SS .
My mom often told me stories of the Great Depression. Her parents were immigrants from Poland in the early 1900s, Polish Jews who were fortunate to leave before the Holocaust came in the 1930s-40s. They lived on the Lower East Side of NYC, on Delancey Street. In the worst years of the Great Depression, when my Maternal Grandfather could not find any work at all, they survived running a Rag Shop selling used clothing, the store in which my mother grew up. He died long before I was born, a broken man, and like my mom did later after the divorce from my father, my Grandmother on that side of the family kept four kids dressed in rags alive through the worst years of the Great Depression on her own, running her Rag Shop.
My father’s parents also were immigrants, not from Poland but from Ukraine and Russia. They weren’t Jews, they were Gypsies. They also manged to avoid the Holocaust, where Gypsies went down in numbers quite close to the Jews of the time. They were both young acrobats, part of a traveling Circus which was in Spain in May of 1917. That for those of you who do not know your history this is when the Bolshevik Revolution went down. They resolved not to return to their homelands, but to emigrate to America. My Paternal grandmother was only 14 at the time, my grandfather only 17 and they weren’t married yet. My Grandmother was with her family, who were also part of the Circus, and they had enough money saved up to be able to book steerage on a Freighter bound for America. My Grandfather was on his own, no family, and he did not have money enough to book passage. He told my Grandmother he would come and find her in America when he could get there. She BELIEVED him. She told him she would wait for him FOREVER. She was 14 years old and in love.
It took my Grandfather about a year to make it to Lisbon from Barcelona where he bid Goodbye to his true love, walking most of the way. He worked odd jobs as a farmhand and did street performances throwing backflips to keep going. He stole food at markets and broke into shops and warehouses, climbing walls during the night and cutting through roofs and skylights to break and enter. He was a criminal for that year, but he never got caught. He was 100% on his own, and he had only one goal in his head. Make it to AMERICA to find my Grandmother. He slept in Barns with the Cows and along the side of many roads in a small tent. He had been told by friends that ports in Lisbon were very lax in security, and that there were many freighters leaving that port bound for America you could stow away on. In the middle of the night, with just the clothes on his back and some dried meat and a bag of flour held with his teeth, my grandfather the acrobat climbed the anchor chain of an American Freighter and stowed away for two weeks on the voyage to America in the Anchor Locker. He swam ashore in the middle of the night also, bypassing Immigration at Ellis Island. He was an Illegal Alien, in addition to being a Criminal Burglar. He wasn’t ashamed of it either. He did what he HAD to do to SURVIVE, and to make it to America and fulfill his PROMISE to my Grandmother.
It took my Grandfather another 2 years after that to find my Grandmother. He talked to every Gypsie and every Jew he found who had some connection to Circus. Circus families are a relatively small group, and eventually he found one who knew where my Grandmother and her family were living. He knocked on the door of the Tenement building on Delancey Street they were living in, my Grandmother answered the door, and they were married a week later. IMAGINE THAT MOMENT. Imagine it. That is the CRUX of the Fourth Turning, a Rebirth from the Depth of Despair.
How much of this story is true? I don’t know, but it’s the way my Grandfather told it to us when I was a boy. Knowing my Grandfather had the same tendencies toward Romanticizing life that I do, I expect it wasn’t quite so Cinematic as he made it sound, but I do believe most of it.
My Paternal Grandfather did better through the inter-War period between WWI and WWII than my mother’s parents did. Despite having no Papers, he was able to easily hook up a job as a Construction Worker on the Skyscrapers being built up in NYC through the Roaring 20s. He was young, strong and utterly FEARLESS. He had been walking the Wire from the time he was 5 or so, and walking the High Steel was no problem at all for him. Nobody wore clip-on belts in those days with carabiners, you either had the guts and balance necessary to walk free on the girders or you did not. Many men fell to their deaths from the High Steel. High Steel workers at the time included many Navajo and Lakota, it was a dangerous profession and Native Americans were more comfortable working at great heights than most White folks. I first got to know Native Americans from friends of my Grandfather from his early days in the FSofA. They all came to visit at the house in Westchester County he built in 1945 on 10 acres, complete with High Wire and Trapeze in the backyard. I learned to flip and twist and get chucked around by my Aunts and Uncles in that backyard. I landed on my head more than few times, which might explain why I am so deranged these days. LOL.
The house Grandpa built most recently sold for $3M in 1997. Not money anybody in my family got, it was sold when Grandpa died in the mid 60s. Not sure what it sold for then, probably less than $100K. He made a good living in his time working the High Steel, and saved his pennies. He used that money to open a Speak Easy in Brooklyn in the Prohibition years, and used the proceeds from that to buy the land in Westchester to build his house on. My dad grew up in his Speak Easy turned Bar during the Great Depression, getting to know the local Politicians, and that is how he came to work for the Republican Party after graduating Magna Cum Laude from Pace College, which later got him the job with Chase Manhattan after WWII came to a close.
Looking backward in time at the Greatest Generation and the Generation that preceded them through both Jim’s genealogy and my own, you can see the 4 Turnings and their outcomes in vivid relief. In the time of our Grandparents, they managed to survive through their own Wits and Inner Strength and with much Luck through the great turmoil of History of their 4th Turning. Jim’s Grandpa had 2 horses shot out from under him, he easily could have been hit by one of those bullets himself and Jim would not be here. My Grandad easily could have taken a tumble from the 50th story of Skyscraper, and I would not be here. For our parents, they were lucky enough to be born at the very BEGINNING of the cycle, to have the succor of their parents through the harshest years of their childhood in the Great Depression, and to board the Great Train of Prosperity through their Adult Years through the next 3 Turnings. They got the benefit of a VERY long period of retirement as well. Good grief, my dad was Retired for more than 30 YEARS, more than 1/3rd of his lifespan. This is NEVER going to happen again. It was an artifact of the accessing of the Thermodynamic Energy of Oil through that cycle, and nothing like this is likely to ever again present itself to Homo Sapiens. Prior to Oil NOBODY besides Hereditary Rulers or Illuminati could live for 30 YEARS without working, and even that wasn’t too likely. Yet many people believe this is a God Given right, to retire at age 60-65 or so. It is highly unlikely that most of us who manage to make it to 65 will be retiring in the future. What the Greatest Generation got was a One Time Gift from the thermodynamic energy of Oil. Jim’s Dad and my Dad were extraordinarily LUCKY to have been born precisely at the time of the last Fourth Turning, precisely at the time the therodynmic energy of Oil was being accessed. Nothing like their lives will EVER exist again. It was an anomaly, and is not reproducible under any current technology.
The IMAGE many have in their minds if they were born much past 1960 or so is one of ever increasing Prosperity, where the pain and sacrifice made by those who lived through the last 4th Turning has gone out of their living memory. Really, even amongst Baby Boomers who had parents and grandparents alive to tell them stories of this time, the ever increasing prosperity made those stories seem like Old Wives Tales, such things could NEVER happen again, certainly not in AMERIKA! But of course they can, it’s a very regular mathematical function based on Compounding Interest, and now we are faced once again with the very same situation my Grandfather faced back in 1917 and Jim’s Granddad experienced in WWI when he got two horses shot out from under him. The DIFFERENCE here is one of Emigration Possibilities.
Jim’s Grandad emigrated from Ireland, my Grandad emigrated from Russia, both arrived on the shores of America, a land still open for much Growth as the Oil Age came to pass. Jim’s father hitched a ride as a Truck Driver distributing Oil product, my Dad hitched a ride distributing Illuminati Money as a Bankster in South America. We both got very good educations as a result, though of course our Politics are very different these days because of differing ways we reacted to and lived within the 3rd Turning of the cycle. Jim followed the Path and became what he is, a financial officer for the UofP. I rejected the Path, walked away from Wall Street on one cool September Morning in 1981 and eventually became what I am, a Teacher living on the far edge of Human Civilization here on the Last Great Frontier. Neither one of these choices is incorrect, they are just choices you have to make based on the parameters you are faced with. Of course, as things spin down here, my expectation would be the choice to remain nearby the Big Shitty of Philadelphia and the 30 Blocks of Squalor isn’t quite as sustainable as the choice to move to the far edge of human civilization in the Matanuska-Susitna River Valley of Alaska, but I could be wrong on that one of course. I’ll live with the choice if I am wrong. As it goes so far however, things look a good deal better up here in Alaska than they do in Philadelphia. LOL.
For the Young People, this time is DIFFERENT than the last 4th Turning, when Jim’s Grandad and my Grandad ESCAPED from Europe and built new lives for themselves and their families in the FSofA. In 1915-1925 the Industrial Revolution was just taking hold, and the FSofA had a HUGE supply of easily accessible Oil to tap within its boundaries. Where would the Young Person of today seek to escape to? No place is really growing anymore, no place readily will accept Immigrants, no place is a haven for the poor and disenfranchised massed yearning to be FREE. The best you can do is travel out to the far edge of human civilization and hope not to be a near term victim of the conflagrations to come. Freedom will be near to non-existent in the foreseeable future as the Police State expands. The only REAL freedom remains in your mind, and must wait for the Collapse of the Conduits before it can grow again in the real world. The final collapse is quite some ways off still, the collapse of the monetary sytem will only bring on an even more onerous period of neo-feudalism that supercedes the current corporate fascism of Capitalism. A very ugly period of history that will be tough to survive for most people. You may survive it by becoming very meek and acquiescing to rules laid down upon you, or you may survive by exiting as far as you can to the periphery, but in either case to survive you will have to make compromises until the Conduits fail epically, which they will. When they do, all bets are OFF. Take No Prisoners time. Get MAD, then get EVEN. The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth. Right AFTER the Meek get very, VERY Angry.
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You.