Question About All in the Family Theme Song

The All in the Family theme song, Those Were the Days, has an odd line in it.

Full lyrics here: link

The song appears to be a sincere reminiscent stroll down Memory Lane except for the line, “Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.”

Is this supposed to be sarcastic?

I know Hoover was widely respected before his presidency and then after his term, many years later, Truman relied on his expertise during his presidency.

Yet what Hoover is mostly remembered for was his failure during the Great Depression. He was widely ridiculed and his name served in a mocking fashion to describe shanty towns (Hoovervilles) and pockets turned inside out were known as Hoover Flags.

So back to the song. This one line seems out of place. Was this a deliberate insertion of sarcasm –the good old days weren’t as good as they seem- or is it sincere with the general population eventually regarding Hoover in a more positive light after the passage of time?

I always interpreted it as meaning they thought the New Deal sucked, because socialism or something, and they’d just as soon reset the clock back to March 3, 1933.

that’s the whole point of the show

the producers don’t really think colored folks and Jews are inferior, in case you didn’t catch that either

It isn’t sarcasm, though it is somewhat ironic. The idea is that The Good Old Days were, through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, delightful particularly because the times of the Depression were hard and this put the good moments in higher relief. Consequently, we could use another Hoover to return us to “the good old days when we all so miserable”.

Concur fully. It seems to me that irony without sarcasm is something a lot of people have almost completely forgotten exists. Mistah, we could use a man like LBJ again.

Doesn’t scan. Try “Jimmy Carter.” :smiley:


Not entirely convinced of this.

I know Archie regularly got his comeuppance when all was done and said but the producers knew that they could –and would in fact- get huge laffs as a result of the racist comments Archie made.

Watch the famous Sammy Davis Jr. ep. From memory, Archie says, “We got any fried chicken around? I hear they like to nibble on that.”

Gets a huge laugh from the audience.

I vote for irony. “Didn’t need no welfare state / Everybody pulled his weight.”

“Guys like us, *we *had it made.” Yeah, we were rich enough to own a LaSalle. So many of those others didn’t know their place, or were poor through their own moral failings, though.

Heh… When the Jeffersons moved in next door, I recall his lament was that watermelon rinds would be flying (discarded) out of their window.

Those were the Days…

Whatever became of Hubert?

We miss you, so tell us, please…

Has anyone heard a thing? :smiley:

Herbert Hoover ran programs that fed some 10 million Belgians during the First World War. He was a highly respected efficiency expert during the 1920s. He probably could have been the Democratic presidential nominee if he could have figured out which party he belonged to, according to the book “Six Presidents”. Which is what made his Presidency so disappointing…he could not end the depression. Not that FDR was a whole lot more successful, unemployment in 1938 was still 18%. But when you have a high reputation before hand, it can swing the other way.
It is almost certainly satire by Norman Lear…a guy who loved to call working class whites bigots but lived in some exclusive monochrome neighborhoods himself.

There was a feeling among a lot of people in the 1950s and 1960s that the Depression was a world wide circumstance that happened and Hoover just happened to be the unlucky guy when it did. He had been in the political wilderness during the FDR presidency. Truman brought him back because he thought Hoover could streamline government and because Hoover was the only living ex-President who could give advice. Hoover was regularly one of the “10 most admired Americans” the last 20 years of his life. It’s not unusual for former Presidents who were unpopular in office to become respected elder statesmen…like Truman and Nixon.

:smiley: Once he shone on his own . . .

Back to the OP: The lyrics are obviously from a Conservative point of view, that all of the country’s troubles began with FDR. Nothing “ironic” about it. But I was always bothered by the fact that Edith sang the lyrics along with Archie, although I doubt that her politics were the same as his.

Hubert who?

My sense was that she saw her own existence as being an extension of her husband’s. She was a “dutiful” wife, and however much the underlying sentiments of the song might rankle in the sleepless hours before dawn, at the moment she was making music with her husband.

I always thought that line was a perfect summing up of Archie’s character–one who feels so out of place in the new world that he looks at the old through rose-colored glasses, so much so that he romanticizes a brutal economic depression and a destructive world war. He can imagine those times as times when everyone banded together against common problems and “pulled their weight”, not like this scary new age when old values seem to be getting trampled underfoot and there’s all this conflict.

There’s a longer version of the song than the opening theme version (which was written for the show, but shortened somewhat). The final verse goes, “Hair was short and skirts were long/Kate Smith really sold a song/I don’t know just what went wrong…/Those were the days!”

I wish they’d left that last verse in instead of the “La Salle” verse. That line “I don’t know just what went wrong” is ALSO a perfect summing up of Archie’s character.

(And what would a working-class family like the Bunkers be doing with a ritzy car like a La Salle, anyway?)

Hubert Humphrey.

Former V.P of the U.S.A.

I love the conceits of the left–everybody loved Roosevelt; how could anybody have been nostalgic for Hoover? Well, he did get 15.7 million votes when he ran for reelection, and was considered a viable candidate for a comeback at the 1940 Republican convention until his speech fell flat because his microphone didn’t work.