Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 00:09:42 -0600
From: Mike Salovesh t20mxs1[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Subject: Zori and the lost generation (LONG)

This message originally went off-list to Norman Roberts. On reflection,
I think the phenomenon I cite after two paragraphs on zori/flip-flops/
thongs/go-aheads/beach shoes could stand more general notice.

==== Forwarded message, with interpolated translations ===========

Your note on zori closely parallels my US Army experience in 1951-53. I
didn't see zori until shipped to FECOM ( = Far East Command) in October
52, but they were in fairly common use at the Camp Drake "repple
depple". ( = army depot for processing replacement troops.) They
seemed to grow more and more common among US soldiers in Korea through
1953, usually as souvenirs of five-day R & R's. ( = rest and recreation
leaves in Japan.)

When I left for the states late in October, 53 they were ubiquitous
among GI's stationed in Japan. They were widely available, and called
"zori", in Chicago by 54. That could be due, in part, to the presence of
a large Chicago community of people whose ancestors came from Japan.
(Many of them came to Chicago during or shortly after World War II, an
aftermath of their forced evacuation from the West Coast in 1942.)

What's interesting is that chasing this word once more demonstrates a
phenomenon not apparent to anyone who didn't happen to be born during
Hoover's presidency (and, perhaps, those born in the first year or two
of FDR's first term). That phenomenon is the utter invisibility of our
whole age cohort.

Remember when Viet Nam veterans used to say that "nobody gave us any
parades when we came home"? Korean War veterans, among ourselves, used
to answer that with "Homecoming parade? Hell, nobody noticed we were

A much higher percentage of our age grade served in the military during
the Korean War than those who served in the Viet Nam era. In fact,
because we were born during the time of the lowest birth rate in U.S.
history, a higher percentage of us "Hoover babies" were in the military
during the Korean War than had served in World War II. (At the height of
the Korean War, more than six million of us were in the service. That's
not too far from the total in the service during most of World War II.
But WWII servicemen, mostly age 19 through 39 when inducted, represented
the birth cohort born between, roughly, 1904 or 1905 and about 1927: in
round numbers, a 20-year spread. Korean War servicemen came mainly from
about a 5-year spread of birth dates.)

Our absence for military service went unnoticed because we were a
minority in a world full of World War II vets. Just as the "Hoover
babies" were finishing high school, colleges and universities were
swamped with a 20-year backlog of WWII vets on the GI Bill. Their view
of returning to civilian life included the music of 1940, a continuation
of the popular culture of 1940, even the movie stars and movie genres of
1940. Their influence on the student scene waned by around 1950, but
that's when lots of us started to go into the service.

Which is why people play nostalgia games about the mid-1950's, or about
the pre-war period, but never about 1950 plus or minus three years or
so. When our fads, our music, and our crochets might have been a
palpable presence in any other generation, they never had a chance to
come into being behind the screen of nostalgia for 1940. We lived in
somebody else's epoch, and were always outnumbered there. We've been
invisible ever since. We even got into the family game at just about
the end of the baby boom, so the boomers didn't learn about our epoch
from parents like us, either.

(Short illustration, meaningful only to our cohort: What did we dance
to in 1945-47? Largely, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey
recordings originally made in 1939-41. Cesar Petrillo's two-year
recording ban for members of the Musician's Union didn't help get us any
replacements, either. When rock'n'roll made its debut for the U.S. in
general, we were past the age of participating in musical fads.)

For others in our invisible generation, I'd add this. I still haven't
figured out what's the matter with jukeboxes that don't play "She ain't
got no yo-yo". And who, today, would know enough to correct me by saying
"Do you mean 'Shina-no yoru'?" ( = "China night", title of a song in a
Japanese movie of the 1930's which had a nostalgic revival in the early
1950's.) Nobody but us even knows that I stole that line from the "When
we get back home" cartoons that starred "Baby-san".

(Norman's response to the last paragraph was "Do you remember the 'Rice
Paddy Ranger' and his faithful companion 'Honto?'" The approriate
answer would be "Wassamatter you, G.I. ?")

There still are millions of us around. We're still invisible. And, to
us, it's hard to realize that all the folks who only know of our
existence through watching M*A*S*H reruns would see anything strange in
the word "zori".

-- mike salovesh salovesh[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]
anthropology department
northern illinois university PEACE !!!