More than 40 years later, I still remember the bright sun and the palm trees when we got off the plane. California in 1968 was a magical place, a magnet for those seeking new opportunities or to lose an old identity. The Golden State was allowing the rich to get richer and the middle class to live out the American dream in its pristine state. The public schools and expanding state-university system (two separate systems, in fact) were the envy of the nation. The corruption and Mob influence that had paralyzed many eastern and midwestern states and cities were largely absent. When my parents announced they were uprooting the Glazer family from a cozy suburb of Philadelphia, as 5 million people did from eastern and midwestern towns between 1950 and 1980, the news was met with a mixture of awe (“California…” they would breathlessly whisper) and bewilderment (“But what is there?”). The very act of migrating by plane was itself somewhat grand. In the years before airline deregulation, one dressed up to fly, as if sailing on an ocean liner, and at prices not all that much lower than an ocean voyage’s. And yet those we were leaving behind acted as though we were traveling by caravan, leaving civilization and going into the wilderness.
more from Jennifer Rubin at Commentary here.