In regards to "A Good Man is Hard to Find," what other technological, economic, and social changes did the U.S. highway system enable the 1950s?
"A Good Man to Find" offers an important slice of social history about the way highways opened up society in the 1950s. First, the new and improved highways allowed families like Bailey's in the story to hop into a car and take a family vacation. Before Eisenhower expanded the highways in 1950s, poor roads kept Americans closer to home or encouraged them to take trains. As we see in "A Good Man," however, the family now has the freedom to hit the road, take detours and explore the countryside.
The growth of highways also meant the growth of the kind of restaurants like Big Sammys where the family stops to dine on hamburgers and cokes. This was the period before fast food chains took over. Stopping at Big Sammys gave the family an opportunity to meet other people in a mom and pop setting.
Finally, and sadly, the highway system made the family vulnerable to attack from the Misfit and his gang. The story shows that with the good comes the bad: the highway system helped Americans move around more freely, but with this freedom came greater risks. Big Sammy himself sums up the change when the family stops at his place to eat:
"I remember the day you could go off and leave your screen door unlatched. But no more."
Unfortunately, the family, or at least the Grandmother, doesn't pay enough attention to this warning.