By the fall of 1945 we were 2 months into the Atomic Age and Americans were bursting with pride. With our sunny Pepsodent smiles we were “the greatest nation the sun had ever shown upon,” a gloating President Truman assured us.
They said it couldn’t be done, yet we had been victorious on opposite ends of the globe. If the sun was beginning to set over the British Empire the sun would shine garishly over Americas post war promise of tomorrow.
The future seemed ripe with possibilities. American Industry was ready with new knowledge and new skills born of war, resulting in a flood of benefits to mankind. The wonder drugs borne of war would rid our society of most illnesses, while another chemical DDT would rid the outdoors of pesky flies and mosquitoes. Why wait for lazy Mother nature when new miracle sprays would ripen all our fruits and vegetables like magic, sulphiting agents would prevent wilting and flavorseal promised to slow down the deterioration of fruits and vegetables preserving their goodness for many weeks even months!
We were entering a new era of power. A new kind of power; the sole Atomic power.
In those heady post war years, we alone had the bomb and most thought we ought to just stay that way. The bomb was as closely guarded a secret as Bess Truman’s recipe for pineapple upside down cake, and, frankly just as hard to pry loose.
After four long worrisome years, Americans were now sleeping worry free, peacefully floating on their new Post-War Foamex foam rubber mattresses secure in the knowledge that we had a nuclear monopoly, Bathed in the drowsy glow of this new blanket of security, made possible by the greatest scientific marvel of our time…the Atom Bomb. There was a pride in ownership- a secure America was as dependable as the day was long.
All across the country there was a great “back home” feeling in the air. While for much of the world returning “back home” meant rummaging through the rubble of broken bricks and smoldering wood, in the desolate shell of a former city not yet done burning, Americans were now as carefree as all the push button appliances and new miracle fibers that awaited us. In our country there wasn’t a single building demolished by bombs, a brick displaced or a window broken and the only visible geographical scar was the one we ourselves had made, on the empty deserts of New Mexico.
The Fix was in
If the world was broken we would fix it.
Americans would meet our obligation to the Free world-spreading democracy and offering a helping hand to people all around the globe- a coke in every Frigidaire and a Chevy in every garage!
With the economic assistance offered to all nations by our bold Marshall plan people everywhere would made the US the best loved country in the world.
The Big Chill
By 1946 the world was changing at a dizzying pace, as cards were re-shuffled and friendships dissolved.
Like so many war born marriages, it turned out our grand alliance with the Soviets was more a marriage of convenience. Uncle Joe, our warm and fuzzy teddy bear quickly turned into a cold blooded grizzly bear ready to gobble up crippled Europe turning its starving shivering population into godless Communists. Not only that, Moscow was hell bent on destroying the traditional American way of Life, and it was up to us to contain them, and win over the loyalty of the rest of the world.
As Soviet tanks angrily roamed eastern European streets, our war born good will faded as quickly as Elizabeth Arden’s vanishing cream.
With Russia turning up her nose at our generous offer of aid and hospitality, an offended America turned a cold shoulder at the snub.
The year began with the lowest temperature ever recorded in North America and the mercury would only continue to drop- 1947 would turn out to be a very chilly year, to mark the start of the Cold war. A hot war might have ended with those two fiery blasts, but another, a cold war began. Bernard Baruch coined it, and Walter Lippman publicize it, but it was our government who would keep a low flame under the Cold War for the next 45 years.
Together with the birth of those Cold war Quadruplets the CIA, the Department of Defense, The Joints Chief of Staff and The National Security Council, the Cold War would grow up together big and strong.
A new war raged one fought with ideological swords as much as stockpiles of armaments and bombs.
Open for Business
The people of mid century America had never been more prosperous, never before had Dad the breadwinner taken home so much money.
The soaring strength of the roaring bull market was at an all time high symbolizing confidence in the Capitalist system . American industries were the symbol of our strength and like the biceps of the healthy and strong spoke of the wisdom of our ways.
With the conviction of a car salesmen selling a wouldn’t you really rather have a Cadillac we were convinced that America was the standard by which the worlds other countries were to be judged, Indeed when you compared we were beyond comparison-where else would you find a country that offered so many advantages, No other country ever inspired such a deep or widespread admiration as the USA, the Cadillac of countries.
With our sparkling minty fresh smiles and anti bacterial clean handshakes we would help underdeveloped countries improve their lives and know the real joy of good living by exporting American consumer goods helping them to better resist Communist pressures.
The path to the future would be bright and profitable
Let Freedom Ring-a Ding- Ding
When the oil lit torch was passed to JFK he enthusiastically continued to encourage American consumer exports to developing markets stating: “too little attention has been paid to the part which an early exposure to American goods American skills and the American Way of doing things can play in forming the tastes and desires and customs of these newly emerging nations.”
Winning their hearts and minds we would help starving countries grow big and strong like Americans
The bull in our soaring bull market was a symbol that the US could compete and win. And in this land of good and plenty one thing we were never short of was confidence.
Copyright (©) 20011 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved