Another hundred years were ground up and churned, and what had happened was all muddied by the way folks wanted it to be - more rich and meaningful the farther back it was. In the books of some memories it was the best time that ever sloshed over the world - the old time, the gay time, sweet and simple, as though time were young and fearless. Old men who didn't know whether they were going to stagger over the boundary of the century looked forward to it with distaste. For the world was changing, and sweetness was gone, and virtue too. Worry had crept on a corroding world, and what was lost - good manners, ease and beauty? Ladies were not ladies any more, and you couldn't trust a gentleman's word.
There was a time when people kept their fly-buttons fastened. And a mans freedom was boiling off. And even childhood was not good any more - not the way it was. No worry then but how to find a good stone, not round exactly but flattened and water shaped, to use in a sling pouch cut from a discarded shoe. Where did all the good stones go, and all simplicity?
A man's mind vagued up a little, for how can you remember the feel of pleasure or pain or choking emotion? You can remember only that you had them. An elder man might truly recall through water the delicate doctor-testing of little girls, but such a man forgets, and wants to, the acid emotion eating at the spleen so that a boy had to put his face flat down in the young wild oats and drum his fists against the ground and sob "Christ! Christ!" Such a man might say, and did, "What's that damned kid lying out there in the grass for? He'll catch a cold."
Oh, the strawberries don't taste as they used to and the thighs of women have lost their clutch!
And some men eased themselves like setting hens into the nest of death.
History was secreted in the glands of a million historians. We must get out of his banged-up century, some said, out of this cheating, murderous century of riot and secret death, of scrabbling for public lands and damn well getting them by any means at all.
Great public thieves came along and picked the pockets of everyone who had a pocket.
To hell with that rotten century.
Let's get it over and the door closed shut on it! Let's close it like a book and go on reading! New chapter, new life. A man will have clean hands once we get the lid slammed shut on that stinking century. It's a fair thing ahead. There's no rot on this clean new hundred years. It's not stacked, and any bastard who deals seconds from this new deck of years - why we'll crucify him head - down over a privy.
Oh, but the strawberries will never taste so good again and the thighs of women have lost their clutch!
"East of Eden", John Steinbeck