Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately because there seems to be this movement gaining strength that everything happening now is utter crap and everything that happened then is glorious.
Perhaps it is because my cohort is reaching A Certain Age, but I am noticing a distinct rise in the number of posts, blogs, status updates, and groups dedicated to the good old days. It’s as if we did not grow up with AIDS, crack, Reaganomics, and Gallagher’s Sledge-O-Matic. That because we saw reruns of “Leave It To Beaver’ after school on cable, we must have lived it. We are not the Mayberry Generation, folks. The Cosbys lived in Brooklyn.
I was born in 1972. My first idol was Cher, not Doris Day. You didn’t have unprotected sex, not because that’s what sluts did, but BECAUSE YOU WOULD DIE. I read “Less Than Zero” in 8th or 9th grade with the reverence and awe another generation would have read “Peyton Place” or “Catcher in the Rye”. I listened to The Jam, 10,000 Maniacs, Black Flag, and had a long–and embarrassing–love of Adam Ant. In all fairness, I did just have a moment of thinking everything kids listen to now is crap–just like my parents thought. But since that generation produced The Rolling Stones and all the Millennials have produced is something called Ke$ha, I’m giving that point to the Boomers.
We’re all guilty of turning remembrances of things past into misty water colored memories. My husband and I were talking about the amount of territory we could cover as children. Essentially, we could go wherever we could walk or bike and get home by the time the street lights came on. Once the lights came on, we were bound to our own neighborhoods. But those days were long gone by junior high. By then everyone had VCRs, Ataris, and Commodore 64s and so we spent a lot of time with John Hughes characters and trying to tape “Night Flight” and “Radio 1990”. A far cry from holding the lantern so your older sister could safely make it to the outdoor privy.
I just wonder if it’s ever occurred to anyone that the good old days were so good because we were ten? I’m calling bullshit on all this going back to a simpler time business. The world was not a simpler place. Your world was a smaller, simpler place.
I like looking at old photographs as much as anyone. I love seeing what my little town looked like when my grandparents were young. I can spend entire days at a cemetery piecing together family trees and wondering what happened to the husband and wife who died on the same day in 1875. I love hearing stories from family members about what it was like for them to grow up. But that’s really as far as it goes. I’ve no desire to go back in time.
I don’t want to go back to a time when women and African Americans couldn’t vote. I’m not fond of poll taxes. I like having my house electrified. I like being able to take a communication device with me wherever I go, even if I can’t always use it. I like that there are gay characters on TV. It makes me happy that I don’t have any school mates who died of polio. Because that’s the thing. For all the good, there’s that stuff.
If you really want to go back to the good old days, here are some articles you might enjoy.