A New Generational Trend

writestuff By writestuff, 12th Jul 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3l08snru/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Culture

Revisits and Reflects Upon Lifestyle Changes of the Traditionalist Generation

Attitudes Abound

The times were changing. The war (WW.II) and The Great Depression had ended. Many adult African-Americans came to the North during the 2nd migration. This sojourn was motivated by the lure of new employment opportunities. For these recent migrants from the South, being able to survive economically was a their major concern. Moving from an agrarian and dwindling industrial society to a more technological focused work force would be a daunting task. During the 1950's, the youth of my generation also faced new lifestyle changes. These new changes not only shaped our lives, but also ushered in new societal norms that would be applicable for generations to come. Reading, writing arithmetic and 'Deportment' was in and 'foolishness' was out! An excellent mark in 'deportment' was a touted badge of honor. This honor was recognized through out the community and was often held as a reflection upon your entire extended family. Really, how hard was it be polite, neatly groomed, appropriately dressed and of course soft-spoken? Not long after that socialization set was mastered up pops - 'attitude'.

Our dreams could no longer be fully realized by just hitching our wagons to shining stars. Attitude was now seen as the missing variable in the an assortment of tools utilized by high achievers. Moreover, the 'right attitude' became the key to unlock the doors of success. We were subliminally persuaded that one's attitude often determined one's academic, social and economic altitude. Hence, for Chicago Public School (CPS)student report cards now included not only 'deportment', but also an 'attitude' assessment with our academic achievements. Change was coming.

Then as now, some welcomed long over-due change and others scoffed at change and tried to thwart progress. Change did slowly come to this densely populated lower working-class community. It came to our neighborhood in the form of massive white-flight. This was the same community area that Studs Lonigan once called home. Some, too poor to move stayed and continued to drape themselves in fear, racism and religious intolerance. Fortunately, a few precious neighbors remained.With the help of various dedicated clergy we all struggled with our individual demons of bigotry. The majority of us adjusted our attitude(s) and sought positive ways to support a new community of different cultural and faith-based experiences. Attitude, attitude and attitude adjustments abounded in those formative years.

Differently Taught

During that era, elementary school educators lived in the communities in which they taught. My childhood community was exceptionally blessed because a few brave, bold educators began to prepare our traditionalist generation in new ways. This was a different breed of educators. These enlighten educators were life-long learners. They believed in the liberating power of knowledge. They also ardently believed all students had an unique potential to achieve. Mrs. Louise Ann Murray was just such a progressive educator. She embraced a form of what I consider - holistic pedagogy.

She is respectfully recalled as an example of an enlighten Chicago Public School educator. For decades, Ms. Murray was one of the most popular instructors at Betsy Ross Elementary. She also taught pre-employment skills to returning veterans in Englewood High School's Night School Program. Mrs. Murray was a tall, full-figured and soft-spoken woman. She was always impeccably dressed and noted for entering the classroom with a dramatic flair. Coiffed hair, scented floral printed handkerchiefs and 2 " high-heeled shoes - this was her signature style.. Her penmanship was a perfect example of Palmer's loops and curves in an attention grabbing display of yellow, pink, green and turquoise blue colored chalk upon black slate. She was also much admired in the general community for her musical skills as a harpist and pianist. As Mrs. Murray's students we too richly benefited from her accomplished skills. For example, indoor recess was sometimes signaled by the soft, haunting tones of Clair de Lune played upon the classroom piano.

Raising up the Village

Every prospective graduating class became privy to examples of her personal integrity and uplifting philosophy. She truly believed in her students and our abilities to succeed. After the television notoriety of popular Spelling Bee Champion, Gloria Lockerman, Mrs, Murray personally gifted our school library with several 'Scrabble' board game sets. Year after year her parting advise to each class mirrored her belief system:

'Only you
can hinder, you!'

'Be remembered not just for how high you climb,
but also how you climbed high'

Oral history upholds that Mrs. Murray was singularly responsible for generations of Southside children of working class parents moving forward to achieve their impossible dreams. She gifted us with life-altering personal empowerment tools. Her values were uncomplicated and unchanging. It was clear - coupled with personal integrity, a desire to learn, hard work and the development of an optimistic attitude it was always possible to reach any goal. We were bound for unlimited success and all equipped with the same skills utilized by the upwardly bound.

Decades later, on the South side of Chicago, Louise Ann Murray's memorable methods of instruction would be heralded as innovative and powerful. To those of us who listen and became persuaded that attitude did matter and that a positive attitude was key, we were gifted with the means to achieve the seemingly unachievable. Attitude and attitude adjustment would ring out as transformational mantras for many of my generation. The message captured our imaginations, impacted our lives and embolden self worth.

Photos in Public Domain- courtesy of Pixabay


Attitude, Deportment, Opportunities, Optimism, Unemployment, Urban Development, Urban Living, Urban Renewal

Meet the author

author avatar writestuff
C.A. Lofton is a proponent of Positive Thinking. Her creative works: lyrics, short stories and poetry. B.A. in English and certificates in counseling and publishing. Website: www.calofton.com

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
18th Jul 2015 (#)

You have captured the reality of those times and also a well deserved tribute to an inspirational teacher who made a vital difference to the lives of many.

Thanks for this share, Writestuff - siva

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author avatar writestuff
18th Jul 2015 (#)

Thanks Siva,
Your read and supportive comments are greatly appreciated. Mrs. Murray was indeed a great inspiration.

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author avatar Retired
22nd Jul 2015 (#)

Nice trip down memory lane..and impressive research!

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author avatar writestuff
25th Jul 2015 (#)

Thanks for your read and comment. This was indeed an enjoyable memory.

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author avatar Papa KyKy
1st Aug 2015 (#)

Thank you for exposing us into a glimpse of another era. Fascinating! In today's educational culture of teaching to the test, I wonder if we have lost some cultural appreciation along the way.

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author avatar writestuff
4th Aug 2015 (#)

Thanks for your read, comment and continued support. You comment is right on the mark.

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author avatar gaurachand
7th Oct 2015 (#)

yes there is drastic changes in education and attitude of our generation

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author avatar writestuff
7th Oct 2015 (#)

Perhaps, a back-to-basics move in education and civility would be a step in the right direction. Thanks for your support.

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