Magazine article America in WWII

Golly Gee Willickers!

Magazine article America in WWII

Golly Gee Willickers!

Article excerpt

I HAVE SOME MEMORY OF AMERICA'S GOLDEN AGE, the late 1940s into the 1950s, a time when GIs had returned triumphant from war, got married, found a secure lifetime job with benefits, raised a family in a new suburban house with a trimmed front lawn, and purchased previously unheard-of quantities of consumer goods thanks to the cash flow and manufacturing capacity generated by the massive world war.

In truth, my memory is not of the era itself. It's a hodgepodge of fuzzy vignettes from Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver, and some other fifties TV shows that I watched after school in reruns. I didn't live through those days, but the boob tube made me feel like I knew the fifties generation well. They were white, they smiled a lot, and they always dressed neatly. And they never cussed. Right?

I wondered about this when I noticed a new book on WWII military slang: SNAFU, by Gordon L. Rottman. You probably know what the title means. If not, the first three words are "situation normal, all." I'll stop there. Pronounced sna-FOO, the word might have been heard in an army camp, uttered with resign by a GI who had run face-first into some inane regulation, order from a commander, or byzantine military procedure. The word still works today in any corporate or government bureaucracy.

Looking to expand my vocabulary, I paged through the addictive book, successor to Rottman's 2007 offering, FUBAR ("FU beyond all recognition"). You might be surprised to find inside a host of acronyms, words, and phrases that at one time might have got you smacked for saying--if you were a kid back in the day when it was acceptable to smack kids for such offenses. …

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