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Cultural Transformation: Midwest to California 1960’s

November 17, 2009

How does the social structure in which we live effect us?  And if we move to a different area, a “different” society / culture, can this effect our core values?  And if so, does this societal shift represent a Significant Emotional Event (as defined by Morris Massey)?

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While visiting my mother, she showed me pictures that she had recently located.  The two I’ve posted today stood out to me for many reasons.  Collectively, they represent two very different and complex periods in my family’s life.

The first picture represents the Midwest.  My father was a “professional” golf pro, winning tournaments with the golf greats of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, etc.  We lived a lifestyle that could be compared to the Donna Reed Show, or perhaps Leave It To Beaver.  We had a housekeeper and a cook, and my mother drove a new Cadillac every year.  We kids attended The Principia, an exclusive private school.  I was given private English riding lessons, piano lessons, organ lessons, dance lessons, guitar lessons … I was a “lesson kid.”  However, that lifestyle changed abruptly when my parents decided they could no longer live together.  We were more or less dumped in California — Pacific Palisades to be exact.

The change represented a huge shift in our lifestyle.  My father did not pay child support nor alimony in a regular fashion, for reasons that still are not clear to me.  My mother had no money of her own and beyond helping my father at the pro shop, she had not worked for many years.  We kids went from the exclusive private school in the Midwest to local public schools.  Attending a public high school in California, I saw first hand that girls wore nylons!  And shaved their legs!  And tweezed their eyebrows!  And wore makeup and miniskirts!  I don’t know how my brothers handled this, but I was viewed as a complete nerd.

Now view the second picture.  Wow — quite a change.  At the time this picture was taken, we were living in Westlake Village, California.  As a family, we were routed from Pacific Palisades, through a Malibu West rental, and finally to Westlake Village.  I was attending Agoura High School, and had found my way into a somewhat darker lifestyle.

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Now again I look at the initial questions of this post.  As the events discussed previously were somewhat traumatic, I can say with 99% accuracy that they do constitute a significant emotional event.  Core values were replaced with whatever they were shaped into.  My family survived, and was, in all probability, strengthened.  

Do I sometimes wonder what the seemingly sterile life in the Midwest would have left us as?  I believe this is an inherent question that all members of the human race ask.  My answer is Yes.

However, then the question becomes:   Would I have traded any of it, knowing what we are today?  No.

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