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It was the American middle class. No one’s house cost more than two or three year’s salary, and I doubt the spread in annual wages (except for the osteopath) exceeded more than five thousand dollars. And other than the doctor (who made house calls), the store managers, the minister, the salesman, and the banker, everyone belonged to a union. That meant they worked a forty-hour week, had the entire weekend off (plus two to four weeks’ paid vacation in the summer), comprehensive medical benefits, and job security. In return for all that, the country became the most productive in the world and in our little neighborhood it meant your furnace was always working, your kids could be dropped off at the neighbors without notice, you could run next door anytime to borrow a half-dozen eggs, and the doors to all the homes were never locked — because who would need to steal anything if they already had all that they needed?

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