Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vincent Moore's History of the Twentieth Century, Ctd.

Part 3: the 1930s (Explanation and Part one here.)

I've been considering how my father's life, from a century later, seems to illustrate, even conform to, the historical trends of his times. His life in the 1930s, however, suggests not everybody is history's plaything, not all the time anyway.

The depression of the 1930s hit England, and particularly the north of England where he lived and worked, very hard. All its export-oriented industries, its mines, and its port cities were hit hard. Unemployment was very high, personal hardships widespread, and malnutrition not unknown. There was political upheaval, labour troubles, cultural strife. Looking back to the approach of the 1930s, my father, turning twenty in 1930, a junior employee of a Manchester newspaper business, without much in the way of personal resources or family backing, looks doomed.

Instead, my father and an older partner, sometime in the 1930s, became proprietors and operators of a chain of weekly newspapers in the industrial Potteries of northern England. This venture into ownership and entrepreneurship in the depths of the depression, without any apparent capital or resources behind him, rather amazes me. Did he actually quit a solid, respectable salaried newspaper job? Was he laid off from a job on a Manchester newspaper and obliged to scramble? Did he join a small paper and move into ownership gradually?

All I can say is I never thought to ask. But my father never struck me as the depression-survivor personality, really never seemed to conform to those cautious, frugal, defensive personality traits said to have become imbedded in many who spent their formative years in the depression.

Now in the '40s, history definitely gets hold of him again.
Follow @CmedMoore