The Good Old Days


Richard Hershberger

Richard Hershberger is a paralegal working in Maryland. When he isn't doing whatever it is that paralegals do, or taking his daughters to Girl Scouts, he is dedicated to the collection and analysis of useless and unremunerative information.

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32 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    You see, it WAS better. The negros were in their place, and a father made sure his daughter married well and didn’t become a tart. An uppity SIL was “taken care of” and put in his place. This was accomplished by the common use of firearms.

    Sniff, the good old days!

    It had AC right?Report

  2. Providence beat Chicago the day before, 6-4

    The Cubs lost, which goes to show that some things never change.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      Quite the contrary, they won the pennant easily, and this was the first of a three-year run. The past really is a foreign country,Report

  3. Avatar Kolohe says:

    I think there’s a distinct possibility that Ophelia was 10 years old at the time of her elopement.Report

    • The father’s name doesn’t match. And that one was buried in Georgia, not NC, though that’s not conclusive,Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Oh, I didn’t realize there were other tabs with more info. I also was curious if those Upchurches were related to the Upchurch that was mayor of Raleigh in the (19)80s, but his late 19th century ancestors all have different names, too.Report

  4. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Is it possible that the choice between “things were much better” and “things were much worse” is a false dichotomy driven by our political commitments and the past was just different? Better in some ways and worse in others?Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      This is an important point.
      We alternately shun or embrace, a past which never existed in order to accomplish something contemporary.

      Its like when we try to map our current political affiliations onto the past (hey, did you know that Democrats were the party of the Klan? True fact!) it yields weird and conflicting results.Report

    • The past was objectively better: the baseball game mentioned at the end of the OP had no designated hitter.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      Yes, was better in some ways. The porch socializing culture I mentioned in the post is in many ways very attractive. On the other hand, we abandoned our porches as soon as we got air conditioning and televisions. Presumably this was perceived as a net improvement.

      And really, much of the attractiveness about society back in the day was only true to the extent that you were an insider. Good ol’ boy networks work great, so long as you are a good ol’ boy. But if you were excluded due to gender or ethnicity or disability or simply due to power politics within the network, you were royally screwed.

      I also notice over and over in my baseball research that if you followed the guys’ post-baseball careers, men typically dropped dead sometime in their fifties. If they won the genetic lottery and had no predisposition for heat attacks or strokes, then they could live into their seventies. But it was unremarkable for guys in their fifties to simply be walking down the street when they drop. If they didn’t die right away, the ambulance would come and cart them to their home. There would be no point in taking them to the hospital. So some guy has a stroke, and he lies in bed for the next three days and his family and friends come to say good-bye, then he dies. The modern American way of dying has more than its share of problems, but when someone with access to routine healthcare dies in his fifties, this is unusual.

      Just reading the newspaper ads for quack medicines is enough to convince me that the net improvement is huge.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    One of my most favorite things about history is encountering people with names like Havelock. Where did people come up with these names.Report

    • Avatar Murali says:

      A: Aww, hell, I’m going on a long trip and I don’t have a lock for my door. Hey neighbour, do you have a lock I could borrow?
      B: Sure I do

      The rest is historyReport

      • Or, if we might forgive a serious answer, ‘Havelock’ is a surname–not a common one, but not an extraordinarily uncommon one. There is a pattern in English going back to the 16th century of using a surname as a given name. (Recall that Lady Jane Grey’s husband was named Guildford Dudley.) The usual route in later centuries was via a middle name. Middle names often draw from both pools, and someone might go by his middle name, or some relative might be given it as a given name. Some newly-given names stuck and became standard given names. ‘Douglas’ is a good example of this. We are more likely to think of it as ‘really’ being a given name than as a surname, as it was originally. Others died out, or were found only in certain families. So while I don’t know why Havelock’s parents gave him that name, the fact of a surname being used as a given name is unremarkable. Or, to put it another way, this is no weirder or quainter than, say, ‘Harrison Ford.’Report

    • Avatar nevermoor says:


  6. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Well, whatever other flaws one might identify from this glimpse of past society, they were clearly polite.Report

  7. Avatar DavidTC says:

    Heh, I love the censoring in the newspaper quote of the KKK.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      It was the Victorian version of political correctness.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

        Very much so. This is why I don’t discreetly edit the “N-word” for modern, and entirely justified, sensibilities. What gets elided and what does not is part of the history. Edit it for modern sensibilities and you soften the historic realities.Report

  8. Avatar Don Zeko says:

    A guy named Webster in North Carolina got shot? I wonder if that was a relative of mine….Report