Time to Tie the Tie? (ms)

The images to be found in the Life magazine archives are something to admire. As befits the era I was poking around in, the 1940’s and 50’s, the images are black and white and I happen to love that. This is not just black and white but it is black and white of the highest quality. Detail in the blacks, fine points in the white with the resulting print a true representation of the time they were taken. For fans of this type of photography the archives of Life are a joy to look through.

Given the fact that Life took great pains to show life as it existed back then we can get an idea of how folks really lived. Many if not most of the photos are not staged and so they are real people doing real activities, like watching baseball games.

To my amazement there are images from the 1950’s showing spectators at a ball game, I believe it was in New York, and the men are wearing suits, ties and hats. The kids next to them were dressed as they might have been for church. It was almost a formal event.

Well now, as they say, the times they have changed.

We now go to the supermarket in pajama bottoms. We go to church wearing shorts and sandals. We go to the bank to take care of business wearing sweats. Unless their work requires them it takes a wedding or funeral to get men into a suit and then they surrender only grudgingly. Formal wear outside of that which is mandatory is not even considered. I could not help but wonder if this desire to remain sloppy could translate out into other areas. Take civility for example.

We’re hardly civil to each other as a whole. There is cursing and yelling, entertainers use words meant for back alley dice games. Music is played at a level you can hear three cars away, litter is thrown from cars onto front lawns and few care to open doors for those who need it. I am not taking a holier-than-thou attitude here for I’ve done a few things myself but it seems to be something that has taken the country by storm. I am not sure but it appears there was no room for that in the time the baseball spectator photo I so love was taken. I am not sure but I think any one of those men would have handed down swift and sure justice to a youngster in their charge should he utter a bad word. The rules were defined and strictly enforced. It was not done to be cruel, though I imagine there was some of that, but rather to teach the difference between right and wrong, good and bad etiquette, the proper way of going about ones life.

I’d guess it was the sixties that derailed that train and replaced it with an open freedom that has been handed down to the next generation and so on. The result, when I thought about it, is what we have today: incivility and many times that is putting it mildly. The tie was not just a sign of the times I thought, it was more a sign of what was right.

–Mike Stevens

~ by admin on January 18, 2011.

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