Snapshot: Looking for America

 Suburbanites driving in search of the American dream

Sunday Drives

Next to the milkman, and drive- in-movies, the recreational “Sundays Drive” belongs firmly and fondly in our not too distant past. In Mid-Century America, driving was still considered a pleasure and gasoline was still the biggest bargain in America’s shopping list. “Drive more,” we were encouraged, “it gets cheaper by the mile.”

My family’s Sunday Drives were of an exploratory nature. Heading east on Long Island, our suburban travels would take us to the furthermost reaches of rapidly overdeveloped  Nassau County, into the outer limits of unknown, underdeveloped Suffolk County, as Old Horizons would open the way for New Horizons.

Although these adventures seemed aimless we were on a mission- in search of new satellite developments filled with model homes.

Middle class midcentury family at Model Home

The Middle Class and the Model Home

Visiting new Model Homes was a favorite suburban pastime. These new split levels developments drew huge crowds. It was a mix of serious weekend house hunters-claustrophobic, apartment dwelling families looking for space, growing families that were themselves expanding, and the group we belonged to, current home owners with no intent on moving but looking at houses for the sport of it.

Traipsing through one new up-to-date furnished splanch to the next, the visitors all shared in the same restless, distinctly American search- for a glimpse of a new way of living.

People came to see not so much a new house as a future that was newer and different. The purest expression of the American Dream


Suburbia For Sale

American Dream Foreclosed

Whether a split level or a McMansion the American home has been the very embodiment of the American Dream. Once the mark of achievement, the suburban home was a solid investment, the guarantee of a secure future.

Now row after row of identical houses, with identical sky-high mortgages and identical For Sales signs grace their unkempt suburban  lawns.

The forlorn For Sale sign beckoning the nonexistent buyer has become the lawn ornament of our time, as ubiquitous as the Pink Flamingo was in the 1950’s.

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