It seems wrong that the 1920s should get two identifying nicknames while other decades go begging.
History books and popular reference regard those 10 years as the Roaring Twenties, a period of economic expansion, growing consumerism and cultural adaptation.
But if you look up the name Jazz Age, most sources point to the 1920s. It’s like so much went on during the decade that a single designation would not accommodate the weight.
(Mind you, this describes a time when the majority of Americans lacked household electricity and indoor plumbing, so “Roaring” might have been a relative accounting.)
Other decades have been targeted with unique narratives, though no stickiness came with any one nickname.
The 1970s became known as the Me Decade, largely because of a single magazine article using the phrase. It meant to denote the self-indulgence of the time, but I don’t know that pleasure-seeking has ever conformed to a calendar.
The 1990s offers itself as the Dot.com Decade, a hearkening to the early days of the internet. I don’t blame readers a minute for double-checking my citation, so obscure as to need verification.
These expressions emerge over time, so I guess no hurry exists, on the last day of a year ending with “9,” to tag the last decade with something concise and meaningful.
A columnist for The New York Times, Ross Douthat, gave it a sporting try: “The Decade of Disillusionment.”
I would be willing to take this for a spin, all the while fearing I embraced disillusionment long before 2010.
(Before anyone sinks too far into despair, consider this decade in context with the one a century ago. The 1910s featured a world war and a flu pandemic. What’s a little disillusionment compared to that?)
St. Joseph began the decade with its public school district at a crossroads, the restoration of a levy having just passed with a sunset clause after first failing without a sunset clause.
This year, voters approved a district levy issue with a sunset clause after first rejecting it without a sunset clause. Thus, over a decade, our city boasts consistency.
Know that person who always has drama going on? That was the school district in the 2010s. A bond issue in 2012 led to the construction of two new schools. Financial concerns led to an FBI investigation beginning in 2014 and a superintendent resigning the next year.
Buildings opened. Buildings closed. Budgets tightened. We enter the 2020s with the question of 10 years ago: Will public trust allow for whatever comes next with the schools?
This newspaper’s top story in 2011 was about the year’s flooding. The top story in 2012 was about the year’s drought. In 2017, St. Joseph fell along a line of totality for a solar eclipse. Nature loves a headline.
Work in recapturing magic Downtown carried on. A story in 2010 floated the idea of a casino as a centerpiece for the area. Also stories in 2012, 2013, 2014 and subsequent years. Like the overdue character in a Samuel Beckett play, a Godot (with slots) never showed.
Maybe it didn’t matter. An influx of workers gave Downtown new life. A garage came down, a better garage went up. See potential for what it is, maybe something to revel in a decade hence.
A decade ago this week, the Kansas City Chiefs had lost 35 of their last 40 games. This year, they won their fourth straight division championship. The years in between, they trained in St. Joseph. Coincidence? Let’s give ourselves a little credit.
We ring in a new year tonight. Let us not be disillusioned.