War Is Over–Now What?

Time Life: The Good Old Days 40s-50s

The lucky servicemen who returned home from WWII not in a box often brought home nicotine addictions, PTSD, and not a clue as to where to go from here. Within a year of the end of WWII, six million GIs had drawn an average of two months’ unemployment benefits, calling themselves members of the 52-20 Club, so named for the unemployment pay of $20 for 52 weeks granted discharged servicemen. Rather than quickly return to work, some men (like those in this Long Island soda shop) spent some downtime reading the paper, sipping malts, taking a drag, and sometimes–reassessing.

10 thoughts on “War Is Over–Now What?

  1. I’m sure unemployment added financial stress and additional strain to families already struggling with the changing dynamic as men returned from Europe. However, as you note, maybe that idle time counterpointed that and was useful decompression and psychologically healing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Me neither. One of my Granddads was killed in WW2 and my other Granddad and (step)Granddad rarely talked about their experiences or the aftermath. We can only try to imagine and no doubt fail.

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      2. Oh, no, I’m sorry. I hope you have lots of pics of him. My granddad and my hub’s granddad (still alive) were also in WWII and keep mostly mum as well. I can’t even watch any shows or movies with murder; it gets inside me with negativity and violence, so I can’t imagine how to process the tragedy of witnessing so much death. Unspeakable horror.

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  2. I remember my Mother talking about my Father’s return from the Pacific. He went right back to work on the railroad. He had some issues adjusting to hie “new” life but I think the traveling on the RR helped. He never said much about his time in the Philippines but he sure had a dis-trust for the Government

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    1. Oh, yes. “Throwing back malts until the malts are gone, never to be seen or heard from again.” 🙂 Maybe spare the chocolate malts but never the vanilla…


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