Happy Holiday. Happy Sunday.
By Dian Vujovich
It’s Easter and the 6th day of Passover. It’s also Sunday and one need not be of any particular faith to celebrate this day. Once upon a time Sunday’s used to be celebrated as a day of rest. As in, no work.
When I was growing up in Minnesota, Sunday’s were a day of rest. Really. Department stores weren’t open. Malls weren’t really a happening thing then as they are today so shopping was out. There weren’t any McDonald’s around to drive through and as for gas stations, you might find one or two open here and there. Probably not, though.
Back in those days, corporate America didn’t have a ‘keep the shareholder happy at whatever cost’ mentality. Money was important in people’s lives— just not as important as it is today. The wage spread between those at the top of the corporate ladder and those in the middle wasn’t nearly as wide as it currently is. But, tax rates were hugely higher. In 1955, for instance, the marginal tax rate for anyone earning between $44,00-$50,00 was 66 percent.
The personal savings rate was higher too– around 8 percent in the mid-’50s. If you wanted something, you either saved for it or bought it on layaway paying a little bit toward it at a time. Then, once paid in full, you could take the item home.
A new two-bedroom, 1-bath home, in the city where likely presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty hales from, cost about $12,000.
There were no African Americans living there when I was in high school. I knew of one Chinese family and perhaps one or two Mexican families. The rich people lived up the hill in areas with names like Park Lane and Oak Park. As for most of the rest of the city, Avenues designated location. Basically, the higher numbered Avenue you lived on the higher up the hill and better off one’s family was. My family lived on Second Avenue.
Today that $12,000 house costs about $112,000 to purchase, the demographics of the city have changed considerably. But, those numbered Avenues still provide a snapshot of one’s income level.
Back to those Sunday’s, whether it was Easter or not, those with a religious bent stopped their weekly routines to spend this seventh day of the week pretty much with their family and/or honoring their faith.
My grandmother, who knitted sweaters, shawls and throws every other day of the week, year in and year out, wouldn’t pick up her knitting needles on Sunday. Ever. She wouldn’t garden either but would prepare the Sunday meal. It was always served precisely at 1 in the afternoon and the entire family required to be there.
Time changes a lot of things but today, no matter what your faith, may you enjoy this holiday-for-some Sunday in a similar an old-fashioned way: Enjoy the family and friends you have, forget about making money for a day and take a rest. That’s all oh-so good for your soul.
Happy Holiday. Happy Sunday.
To read more articles, please visit the column archive.