Friday, September 26, 2014

Behind it all . . .

Each one of us is born into this world as an impressionable infant.

We are, each one of us waiting like a blank slate, to be written upon, each one crying to be filled with identity, each yearning to become a unique personality.

Who you and I become is shaped, in the early home environment, by parents, by families, genetics and, should you choose to believe it . . .God. Those influences combine as the nature and the nurture that make us who we are.

Beyond that immediate nurture, the wide world itself also forms who you and I become. We are formed by our inherited religion (or the absence of it), by our culture, nationality, institutions, the times we live in.

Now you and I are different from each other, but If you were, let's say, a kid who was raised, like me, in USA of the 1950s-60s, we would share some cultural influences that contribute not only to our personal memories (and hence influences), but also to our collective baby-boomer memories, such as:

Walter Cronkite, Chevy and Ford, Elvis, what happened in Dallas on November 22 1963, Civil Rights, Beatles, hippies, Dr. King, Vietnam, Coca-Cola, man on the moon. . .M&Ms . . . the Macy's Parade.

All of this blogstream started this morning when I had a Boomer moment in San Francisco.

Pat and I were enjoying a sidewalk brunch in the heart of that city when I looked up above a passing streetcar and noticed:

What seemed to me odd about this sight was the obscurity of the "Macy's" logo, which had been painted long ago on the top edge of their once-impressive brick n' mortar edifice.

For a kid who grew up watching the Macy's Parade on Thanksgiving Day, Macy's was, certainly, not some faded logo in the background, but rather an authentically commercial presence looming large in the foreground. Macy's was, on Thanksgiving morn, a grandly exotic parade with, among other larger-than-life characters: Snoopy swaying in the breeze, Cat in the Hat standing tall, or Popeye with his ego inflated.

And this morning I thought . . . you know what, Macy's was behind it all, at the root of our Great American Mercantile venture. Before Neiman-Marcus, before Nordstrom, before K-Mart and Walmart, there was . . . Macy's.

Before all this commercialism we see around us, before the wide, wide suburban boulevards stacked with (boring) big box stores, before retail chains that look the same from city to city, before Walgreens and CVS, before Mcdonald's and Shoney's, there was Macy's.

Before the present web of mega-retailers, before the clinking links that have us chained to consumer acquisitions, before all the noise and haste of this present corporate-driven culture, there was . . .

the family business that managed to, by hard work, perseverance, quality assurance and smart business, hit the big time!

And this morning on Powell Street in San Francisco I thought . . . can such a thing still happen?

I hope so. I hope authentic Main Street capitalism is still alive and well, capable of revitalizing our great American enterprise, not decomposing beneath a Walmart parking lot.

Glass half-Full

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