Not Forgotten Back to Branson Normalcy and Nostalgia in the Ozarks B Y J E R RY RO D N I T Z K Y In 1920 Warren Harding won the presidency after an early campaign speech advocating, among other things, a nostalgic and undefined return to "normalcy," a reference to the McKinley administration of 1900 that Harding felt looked like his America. The intervening twenty years of the Progressive Era, with its massive non-Anglo-Saxon immigration from southern and eastern Europe, wasn't, in Harding's view, normal. The recent immigrants did not look like Harding's America, and not incidentally his administration featured severe immigration restriction and extensive deportation of radical aliens--Harding's return to normalcy. Warren Harding's era of normalcy didn't last long; the trend in twentiethcentury America has been one of steadily increasing diversity. Yet on a trip through the Ozarks I inadvertently found Harding's 1920s America in Branson, Missouri. Contemporary Branson neither discourages ethnic tourists nor advertises its Anglo-Saxon homogeneity. A merger of Nashville's Opryland and Disneyland's Main Street, it simply reflects the rural, white middle-aged Protestant visitors whose passion is traditional country music. Branson does, however, harbor some ironic contradictions that make it an unlikely mecca for
Southern Cultures – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Jan 5, 2002
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