Friday, November 4, 2011

Nostalgic For A Time That Didn't Exist

One of my favorite songs on my Frank Sinatra V-Discs set is "Homesick, That's All."

Here is the YouTube link to the song (it won't let me embed it), and following are the lyrics:

I miss the thrill of grammar school romances
I miss the junior prom and graduation dances
The gossip in assembly hall
I'm homesick, that's all

I miss the gang that hangs around at Miller's
Devouring chocolate sodas, with those whipped cream fillers
The girl I promised I would call
I'm homesick, that's all

I miss the midnight services on Christmas Eve
And the joy when Christmas morning came
I miss the scramble for the wishbone every Sunday
And the big Thanksgiving football game

I miss the times I had to set the table
I miss the rolls my mother made when she was able
The fragrant bonfires in the fall
I'm homesick, that's all

I miss the times I had to set the table
I miss the rolls my mother made when she was able
The fragrant bonfires in the fall
I'm homesick, that's all

This song has such a melancholy pull on my heartstrings.  It makes me long for a time that no longer exists....not only my childhood, but of a simpler, more innocent time.  

But did it really exist?  We tend so much to look at the past through rose colored glasses and only see the good things of a particular era.  Or, to see an era as we experienced it ourselves, unexposed to the horrors of the world around us.  

For example, the 1970's was a time of major political, cultrual, and economic upheaval.....for the rest of the world.  But for me, my biggest worries were figuring out what to bring to show and tell at school, and waking up early enough on Saturday mornings to watch my favorite cartoons.  I look back at that period with warm nostalgia about those cartoons, the toys I played with, the family gatherings I went to, and businesses around town that existed back then but are gone now.   I was never exposed to the harsh realities of the world around me.

I actually had this album!

Certainly for an adult who lived through those times and remember gas lines round the block, the continuing Vietnam War, the Nixon scandal, and shocking behavior from the youth as social conventions gave way would remember that era in a different light.

Not having lived through the Golden Era (1925-1955) I have to learn about it second hand from books, video, and first hand accounts from my parents.  Now, my parents each had very different experiences growing up.  My Mom was born in 1930 to an upper-middle class family and had a nanny.  She remembers driving with her dad in their big black car and seeing people standing in bread lines on the street, and wondering why they were there.  The Great Depression had hardly any effect on her life.

My Dad, however, was born in 1931 to a dirt-poor farming family struggling to eke out an existence in dust-bowl stricken Colorado.  The 13th child, he knew bad times, and knew firsthand how harsh life could be.

While Mom has happy, fond memories of that period, my Dad doesn't like to remember them at all.  While my Mom learned afterwards the bad parts of that era, because they didn't effect her directly, she still sees it all through "rose colored glasses" just like the way I view the 70's.  

Of course every era has it's good parts and bad parts, that's just life.  There always have been and always will be the bad with the good, and I think it's important, when looking at the past, to take into account both sides.  One shouldn't whitewash the past and say only good things happened; on the flip side one shouldn't condemn an entire era solely for the bad parts and discount the good.  

So when I get to feeling nostalgic for the past - a past I never lived through, such as in this song - I guess what I'm really nostalgic for is the idea of an idyllic past.  It's more pleasant to think of the past as how it's depicted in It's A Wonderful Life or Leave It To Beaver.  No one wants to think about segregation, racism, gender inequality, child abuse that was kept hush-hush because one doesn't air the family's dirty laundry.  It's easier to pretend that life was shiny-happy and to believe that our authority figures were all honest and could be trusted and that the cure to all woes was a slice of mom's apple pie.

I truly wish such a time existed.  That's what I'm nostalgic for.  A world where there weren't any troubles, everyone no matter their race, ethnicity and gender got along, no one told lies, and everyone helped their fellow man.  

It could be great, wouldn't it?


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  2. You're right Betsy.. things weren't "all good" back in the day. I remind myself a lot that quality of life has definitely gotten better, not to mention countless social issues! I DO believe that there was more of an innocence in regards to our youth than the kids of today have. Things have always been crazy in this world I guess, but I really miss how things were more simple in the recent past. Especially with technology! Remember how much of a slower paced life we used to lead before on demand movies, cable tv, the internet, and cell phones? Wow.. seems like so long ago already!

  3. Great post! I had that Sesame Street Fever Album too! Ha hat's great!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting, so nice to meet you :)

  4. Haha - I had that same Sesame Street Album, too! Too funny.

    Oh boy, I can relate to this post. My nostalgia isn't based on reality, but it's an escape for me, I guess. Our current world is so off-kilter that I need to escape once in awhile to a past that only exists in my dreams. :-)

    (As an aside, I don't know why my blogroll feed does not update your blog, otherwise I'd be over here more often!)

  5. No worries Melissa, some of the blogs I follow don't show up in my reader either. Darn Blogger! ;)

    I'm the same way, I like to escape into my idyllic version of the past. Some days it's the only way I can cope with the harsh realities of today, which granted, aren't as bad as some things back then, but still. I'm sure my viewpoint would be different if I were a different ethnicity. But, it's my coping mechanism and I'm sticking with it!

  6. Those things did happen in the seventies. But, just as things happening today, most of the happenings were "just in the news".


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