A whirlwind of nostalgia
We interrupt this editorial to bring you a bulletin from chief kibitzer Rip Snorter. The National Newspaper Association has issued a severe nostalgia warning for this page, effective until the end of this column. Should nostalgic conditions threaten, be prepared to return to a place of safety in the present or to a sturdy interior room, preferably with porcelain fixtures.
If you’re of the right age, you probably spent a great portion of your youth hearing sirens and cowering in the southwest corner of your basement. Actually, your age can fairly accurately be calculated by exactly which part of the basement you retreated to. It changed numerous times during the period.
You can remember when measles were something almost everybody got, not a rare scourge that required the donning of moon suits to deal with.
Every cash register had a rack of counter checks anyone could use, without even having to know their account number. Plastic was not something you paid with; it was the material paid for if you didn’t have enough cash to buy the real thing.
Doctors would make appointments to visit your place instead of the other way around. When someone you knew fell down and needed help up, you didn’t call an ambulance; you called your neighbors or relatives.
We believed whatever Walter Cronkite told us and whatever Cecil Carrier forecast, and although we knew they weren’t really an astronaut or a forest ranger, Major Astro and Freddie Fudd were friendly uncles inviting us to watch cartoons on one of the three channels on our tiny TV sets.
Sometimes, neighbors without basements would come over when the sirens sounded, just like those of us without color sets would go to neighbors’ houses to watch Thanksgiving parades or episodes of “Bonanza.”
Kids mainly had nothing to do but to figure out ways to entertain themselves or come up with schemes to make a few nickels and dimes — collecting discarded pop bottles under ballpark bleachers, building spook houses and running carnivals whenever basements weren’t otherwise in use, selling off portions of their comic collections that nowadays would be worth not-so-small fortunes.
Every week, you went to both Sunday school and church, dressed in your absolute best. Men, women, and children all belonged to various clubs. If anywhere in all of this you ever became lost, fear not: Everyone knew who you were. Even if they didn’t, all you had to remember were two, three, or five digits to recite your phone number, and someone almost always was at home when you called.
The world has progressed a lot since those days. Man has landed on the moon, the Berlin Wall has crumbled into moon dust, terrorism no longer is something you hear about only from overseas, and all those old sweat-of-the-brow, strength-of-the-back jobs that netted huge union paychecks have retired from our economy.
Sometimes it’s tempting to want to step into Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine and return to those simpler days, but we also have to realize that about of those remembering all these things would now be dead if not for medical advances made during that time, and most of us would have seen whatever parts of the world we have only through ViewMaster stereopticons.
We yearn for the past. We can’t live in it. Even if we have land adjoining what’s likely to be a shiny new wind turbine.
Taking a brief pause to check the weather radar on my cell phone the other night, while ignoring yet another of the hundreds of robocallers I receive, I paused the streaming service I was using to watching one of probably several thousand available entertainment channels and noticed something off.
FireTV, which I was using, displays beautiful landscape photos whenever you’d paused a program too long. One of them was telling. It was an extremely pretty, probably Dutch, landscape with half a dozen gleaming white wind turbines dotting the landscape.
Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. Decades from now, whatever our politicians do in coming days, wind turbines will dot our landscape, too. Or, perhaps, a yet newer technology will prevail and some future editor, nostalgically writing in Old Fart-ese about the Good Old Days when we used such silly things as Facebook and Twitter also had graceful white turbines turning in the breeze.
Recalling history is nostalgia fun. Forcing everyone to live in it, as those of you who just endured this editorial did, is like fighting to prevent your parents from selling your Tonka trucks at a yard sale. Eventually, they’re going to be sold — if not in your lifetime, in the next. Why not do it on your terms, finding the right buyer, instead of simply letting them rust out where you used to hide from tornadoes?
— ERIC MEYER