The other night I went over to the home of a local Armenian family because they had a picture they wanted to give me that showed some Armenian musicians that I could use in my documentary. When I went over to their house and sat with them for a bit, we struck up a conversation about other musicians and the types of events they attended (when they were younger) within the community. What always amazes me, even today, is that you can still see their vivid memories of those days just by looking into their eyes and watch their facial expressions.
It’s a shame that the technology that is available today was not available 50 or 100 years ago so that we could not only see clearly the enjoyment in their eyes but also hear them express themselves. A time machine would work just as well!
Why do you suppose that this generation had so much fun? Some might say that all generations have the same amount of fun and because of the generational gaps, we just assume the “good ole” days exists for all of us. Yes, this is most likely true, but for me it seems there is something about my parents/grandparents generation and what they went through (The Great Depression and World War II) in order to find and preserve happiness. This generation had to be more imaginative. Radio helped with this quite a bit. They had to imagine the story they were hearing. It would allow them to appreciate the spoken word so much more. Going to Armenian dances or nightclubs in the evening or on the weekends made a world of difference to them and I think had the same affect. I can’t tell you how many Armenians have told me that they would count down the hours until they would get home from work or school – clean up and go out again to go hear and dance to Armenian music. They truly appreciated the fun.
The fellowship they created would turn into marriages or life-long friendships. Yes, times were very different back then. Armenian families lived closer together. Assimilation was not a word they would come to know until many years later. They knew how to enjoy one another and the music was a major connector for all of them.
Sadly, (and my opinion only) I think we have lost some of this in Detroit. Assimilation is our enemy and as we grow older, we shift in many directions. Not living close together certainly enables this great divide. What is equally sad to me is that the Armenian music wasn’t strong enough to keep communities (today) together as it had decades ago…but, it is strong enough to keep us as an ethnicity together. This may seem contradicting, but I do feel our music has a force that brings all of us together. Can music revive the fellowship we once had in the communities? There are so many questions we should be asking ourselves.
It’s somewhat easy to be reflective as we go into the 100 anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. We will be looking at who we were and how far we’ve gone in the last 100 years. As Armenians, we will write, speak, and reflect about ourselves as we enter the 100th anniversary which is only months away.