. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – America’s Town Meeting – Can We Depend On Youth To Follow The American Way? – April 20, 1939 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
The age-old question; leaving legacies. Even in 1939 the older generation had grave doubts whether this new bunch of teenagers, poised to take control once they transitioned into adulthood, would preserve The American Way as they knew it. With war looming, the concept of the American Way meant different things to different people, and some argued the American Way wasn’t what it was cracked up to be, if in fact it ever way. Inequality and the deeply imbedded racism so prevalent in America was coming under question by the youth of 1939. Areas of Faith, education, economic stability and social interactions were also coming into question and rebellion was on slow simmer.
Was this the rite of passage every generation went through with regards to the previous generation? Was the generation in charge always fearful the ones coming up would destroy everything sacred and estimable they had worked so hard to preserve?
True, the world was changing in ways the previous generation hadn’t anticipated. The War to End All Wars the previous generation fought was in grave danger of repeating itself. Technological advances made the world, in many ways much smaller than the world of the previous generation – news traveled quicker, even in 1939. Life was moving faster and change was inevitable.
And aside from the stuff of fads – the new music, the clothes, the slang, the rebellion against authority figures, the underlying issues made the world the youth of 1939 face considerably different than the issues youth of the previous generation faced.
Perhaps it was knowing the grave new dangers ahead that gave the older generation doubts as to whether or not this new generation could handle them. As with every generational assessment, the older generation in 1939 was convinced the younger generation was lazy, listless and hedonistic – only interested in the thrill of the moment and caring little about the future.
So it became the topic of discussion. On this episode of the weekly radio program America’s Town Meeting, a group of spokespeople from various aspects of society got together to discuss just what the Youth of 1939 was up to. After the discussion came a lively question and answer period from the audience, which gave a better idea of what was at issue than the discussion of it earlier in the program.
To give you some idea that the fears of the older generation isn’t a new or unheard of concept even 75 years ago, here is that episode of America’s Town Meeting, as originally broadcast on April 20, 1939.