Culture Clashes Are Nothing New

Somehow it seems that our country and society has become consumed with “culture wars” between the political parties and among different lifestyles recently. But culture clashes are nothing new and there were times when there were great divisions in the United States. Of course, the period before and during the civil war always comes to mind when the nation literally split apart over the issue of slavery. But there have been serious culture clashes in more recent times.

One hundred years ago, in the 1920s, it was an interesting time to be living. The war had just ended and it seemed that after a period of rapid change and war, the nation and the world could enjoy a period of peace and prosperity. There were new inventions that were making life much easier for many Americans. The country was changing from horses and buggies to automobiles and many new roads were paved. Cars went faster and further and the Sunday drive became a popular thing for families to do, especially in the summer.

Then there was this new form of music that conservatives called “jungle music”. But most people called it jazz. Women had just been allowed to vote across the country and it seemed that many young women also began wearing their skirts much shorter and cutting their hair shorter. Another item that many young women shed were the girdles and corsets. After all one couldn’t dance to this mew music called jazz wearing a corset.

There was a new form of entertainment called the motion pictures or simply the “movies”. Movie stars lived exciting lives and they set fashion trends. When a popular movie star named Rudolph Valentino died suddenly, it became a major event. A new media called the radio brought news and entertainment into everyone’s living room.

Then there was Prohibition, the “noble experiment” that made the production, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages illegal across the nation. It seemed that almost every American was now breaking the law by going to “speakeasies” and making “bathtub gin” or “moonshine”.

Another new invention that was drawing attention was the airplane. In the war many young men learned to fly those contraptions. Those “brave young men in their flying machines” took their airplanes across the country and drew huge crowds to watch them show their aerobatics. This gave a new word to the vocabulary called “barnstorming”. But it also introduced many Americans to the wonders of flight.

Then in the spring of 1927, a young aviator named Charles Lindberg became an overnight sensation when he flew solo across the Atlantic from Long Island to Paris. When he landed in Paris, the crowds went wild. He became an instant celebrity back in the United States. Soon commercial passenger airplanes came around with the most popular being the Trimotor manufactured by Ford, called the “tin goose”.

But for many people, especially those living in the rural areas of the country and far away from the large cities, life was pretty much the same as it had always been. Many people couldn’t get radio signals and in many rural areas, they didn’t have this new fangled thing called electricity. Many people in the rural areas couldn’t afford those new cars and they still went to church every Sunday.

In the summer of 1925, in a small town in eastern Tennessee this culture clash was on full display for all the world to see thanks to the magic of radio. This involved a minor case of a high school science teacher being tried for breaking the law banning the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The trial of John Scopes riveted the nation and became a “media circus”, a term coined by journalist H. L. Mencken during that trial.

In the 1920s there was the rise of the celebrity preacher who could fill a stadium or auditorium with people hearing their message. A former baseball player, named Billy Sunday drew huge crowds to listen to his message. A woman named Aimee Semple McPherson also drew huge crowds as well to her rallies.

Then, in the summer of 1926, Aimee Semple McPherson disappeared. It was reported that she was kidnapped. But later it was revealed that she simply escaped for a tryst with a lover in Mexico and it became a major scandal.

But all those new inventions and ideas disturbed many people in the United States. These culture clashes were a major division between the affluent and those not so affluent as well as those who lived in the cities versus those who lived in the country. It also was a major division between those who were better educated and those not so educated. For those living 100 years ago, a major change in the culture resulted in clashes. Somehow, the more things change, the more they also remain the same.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 14, Issue 7, Posted 6:19 PM, 07.02.2022