Posts Tagged 'FDR'

Save your old shoes

Headed down the hill today to visit John Long at Ojai Valley Imports.  Time for an oil change.  John was a bit scruffier looking than usual but, in his happy way, greeted me with “Hi Fred, how you been?”  For whatever reason, I still think an oil change costs $39.  And I’m always surprised to discover that’s only the half of it.  Must be an age thing.

Sort of like my view of buying shoes.  I remember when Florsheim meant something.  Spend $35 on a pair of Florsheims forty years ago and they were an investment that kept on giving until your wife ripped them off your feet and threw them in the garbage.  I always get wide-eyed at the cost of any kind of shoe, regardless of price.  Must be my upbringing.

I waited under that old fir tree on the corner of Summer and Ojai Avenue, trying to twist old, dead needles into a useful survival tool.  Mercifully, Don arrived and we drove to the Ojai Cafe Emporium for our usual coffee and half a sweet roll.  Like Florsheims, I think their cinnamon rolls have suffered a bit over time.  But their muffins are the best, especially pumpkin.  I could probably eat a whole one but I feel psychologically fitter if I only get a half ration of white flour and sugar.  Besides, I usually bring two home for Sweetie and help her with the eating part.

The place was nearly deserted at 8:15, an unusual event.  I asked the lovely lady behind the counter where everyone was.  No clue.  I joked “maybe they’re all staking claim to prime spots on the avenue for the July 4th parade.”  And then I remembered that the parade is on July 3 because the 4th is a Sunday.

I admit to a certain amount of bristling about the parade being moved to Saturday.  And I remember the brooha that ensued when the parade sponsors made the same decision a few years ago in order to let folks attend church.  Back then I almost wrote a letter to the Ojai Valley News to remind the sponsors that Saturday was a holy day for us desert wanderers.  But then I haven’t been to a temple Saturday service in a long time.  So why should I bitch.  Even so, a July Third parade seems all wrong.

Don and I began with an organ recital (how’s your health), a less than argumentative discussion of who’s really at fault for the state of the economy, Joe Barton’s whole-hearted but bonehead apology to BP, and a review of our latest literary explorations.  I was proud to announce that I was actually reading a piece of non-fiction.  Nothing to Fear by Adam Cohen (who probably would also be ticked at the thought of a July 3rd parade) recounts FDR’s first hundred days in office in 1933.  In the depths of the depression, here comes a guy who had an easy act to follow, Herbert Hoover.  Some would argue that Obama had the same advantage.

As I read the book, I found myself comparing then and now.  Killer unemployment, a banking system on life support, stocks in the toilet, a media that thrives on bad news, and conflicting views on the role of government in an economic holocaust.  FDR and the Democrats win the election in a landslide.  A lock on both houses of congress and the key to the Oval Office.  On Day One, FDR plops himself behind the desk and hasn’t a clue as to what specific steps should be taken.  All he knows is that the banks need oxygen and people need jobs.  And the rest is history.

The only difference between then and now is the sense of urgency.  Not enough people selling apples.  No army of the unemployed on the steps of Congress.  Too few market manipulators leaping from the fifth floor.  And an election cycle that has no beginning and no end.

Who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky and things will get worse.  Meanwhile, save your old shoes.


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