N is for Nostalgia

Strange, but I found even then that people have a greater recollection of things that I allegedly said and did than I do.

At some level, I’m not a very nostalgic guy. As Billy Joel put it in Keeping the Faith, and I quote, The good old days weren’t always good. It seems as though, in the US, there are dreams of the 1950s being the “good old days”, represented by TV shows such as Ozzie and Harriet or Father Knows Best, with dad out working all day, with mom home raising the kids and wearing pearls when her husband came home for dinner. It was never MY experience.

The 1950s were a period of the cold war paranoia of “duck and cover”, and an unsettling racial climate; I’ve written before how the death of Emmitt Till affected me deeply.

And it’s not just the 1950s. I went to my 10th high school reunion back in 1981 and I found it quite disturbing, so annoying, still fighting the same fights that should have been over a decade before. Or lots of conversations about “remember when so-and-so did such-and-such”; well, either the answer is yes, and so what, or no, and so what. It’s like the Springsteen song from Born in the USA, Glory Days:
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of, well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister but
boring stories of glory days.

Strange, but I found even then that people have a greater recollection of things that I allegedly said and did than I do.

Therefore I was quite interested in this story I saw on CBS Sunday Morning last year, Nostalgia: Power of the “Good Old Days”

But you might be surprised to learn that nostalgia – which is all about the past – has a notorious past of its own. For centuries it was considered a disease and a form of depression. Soldiers even feared it as homesickness and thought it could kill them.
I could almost believe that.

But it is not so, apparently. In fact:
Reliving good times can be a critical tool for surviving these bad times.

“If right now everything is terrible and bleak if you’re out of work and you can’t pay your mortgage and you’ve been evicted and you think, ‘there’s nowhere for me to turn,’ it is actually healthy to look to the past and to say, ‘What else have I survived before?'”
(l-r, Carol, Lois, Karen, Roger, Bill)

Now I DID agree to go to my 35th high school reunion a few years ago, but there was only one reason. There were a group of my oldest friends that were going to be there. When I say “oldest”, I mean that we all went to kindergarten together at Daniel Dickinson school in Binghamton, NY, and all graduated together from 12th grade at Binghamton Central High School. The thing about THESE friends is that we had known each other for SO long that we didn’t NEED to rehash old stuff, just needed to catch up on things.

We didn’t say, “Oh remember in second grade when we danced to the Minuet in G?” (I danced with Carol, Bill with Karen, Bernie with Lois.) Well, they do or they don’t and it doesn’t matter. “Do you remember going to Carol’s parents’ summer place in northern Pennsylvania?” Of course they do; no need to ask. There’s a certain shorthand you develop when you’ve known people a long time, even when you haven’t seen them in many years.

Still, I try to be a proponent of Carly Simon’s Anticipation, specifically the last line: “THESE are the good old days.”

ABC Wednesday – Round 7

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

42 thoughts on “N is for Nostalgia”

  1. Great post for the day as always, Roger! And I couldn’t agree more about nostalgia and looking back to the “good old days”!! I was just listening to Springsteen’s Glory Days, yesterday! Hope your week is going well!


  2. I really like what you wrote. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t gone to my reunions.
    I would rather anticipate whats making each day the best it can be.
    Thanks Roger for the challenging post.

  3. You are so fortunate to have that core group that has such synergy. A few years ago, I went to my 30th reunion and discovered I really didn’t have much in common with most of them anymore. It was fun reminiscing for the night, but I knew I wouldn’t be keeping in touch with them. Rather than “good old days,” I’d simply settle for GOOD days!

  4. Thought-provoking post. The last reunion I attended (30th) made me realize that we all just simply move on. It was sort of nice to see some old friends but we never actually reconnected. Great post! šŸ˜€

  5. What a lovely picture and post! šŸ™‚
    Dear Roger, I love your nostalgic feeling today!Always a wonderful surprise in your blog, always beautiful stories full of love and good energies!
    Thanks so much for sharing!
    BTW beautiful smile!

  6. Very good Post…. I have attended my 20, 35 and 50th class reunions. The 50th was the best of course cause no one cared what you looked like, if your waistline was a few inches bigger, or the hair on your head had disappeared ~~ they wanted to show you pictures of grandchildren and even great grandchildren… I know, cause I was one of those great grandmas.

  7. What a great post. I wrote a song a while back with the line “the good old days that never were” so I can relate to this. I graduated from high school in 1975 so we grew up around the same time. I also know what you are talking about with the short hand among old friends which is nice to have even when you don’t see each other much.

  8. I enjoyed this post very much. I must say I usually dislike hearing about the good ol’ days because I doubt very much that our recollections are as positive as we remember them. I prefer to live in the present.

  9. This was a very insightful post Roger. I read the CBS article on “nostalgia” and printed the inventory though I’m not sure how to evaluate the results. As we grow older there certainly is more to be nostalgic about!

  10. Being quite a young person in a quite old person profession, I get a lot of ‘back in the day’ and I can get quite annoyed. Just because some things were great back in the day, it doesn’t mean all of it was. Most of it probably wasn’t!

    PS: I just want to thank you on behalf of every single busdriver in the world for thanking us when leaving the bus. We do appreciate.

  11. Nostalgia is a wonderful N word! Once in a while I do live to revel in it. It has the power to make me thankful, inspire a good story, or take me back to the days when Dad was here and everything was good. Okay, maybe not everything, but almost…

  12. I’m tempted to say Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be!
    I avoid reunions. Somehow I never think I want to be reminded of the majority of my past.

  13. The fifties were my teen-age years, so I am a bit nostalgia when I think about them, but I enjoy living in the present best, looking to tomorrow and next week, what will be, will be.

  14. Nostalgia is great if your past was great, but for those people who had to fight discrimination at that time, there is no nostalgia.

  15. Heya, cool post. When I see that Nostalgia is thought of as a disease which can kill, it reminds me of how when boys are younger, they believe that girls carried a disease called cooties. Why… I most certainly do not carry cooties!!! Kudos to your post.

  16. I’m old enough now to indulge in some nostalgia now and then. Memories are what I have been creating all of my life. Why not enjoy them – in a gently melancholy way?

  17. Interesting points, Roger. I have friends who go ‘way back, and we keep in touch regularly: one I’ve known since I was 4, one whose mother went to high school with my parents, others I’ve known since junior high. They remember when I was really smart, and I like that!!
    My sadness is mostly about the parents I lost fairly recently, and it’s not so much nostalgia as a gut-wrenching feeling I get when I’m thinking “I should tell Mom (or Dad) about that” and realize I can’t phone them any more. I’m told this, too, shall pass.
    Love your reunion photo, though. You all look so happy.

    Kay, Alberta

  18. Kay – well, yes and no. Look at my D post, which is about my dad’s death 10 years ago. The gut-wreching goes away; the melancholy may or may not.j

  19. Sometimes looking into the past is fun, I found your blog because I had fond memories of you at Fantaco and the YMCA, both of wich are now history.

  20. I find great pleasure in old memories and nostalgia, – even the memories of hard times. I moved away from my childhood home when I was married and was immediately enveloped by Charles’ school friends, and now his reunions are mine as well. We spent our parenting years on a veteran’s orchard development, where all of us were in the same boat, – short of cash, long on friendship and memory making.

  21. everyday I feel nostalgic, when ever I see a photo, either my own, or a fellow blogger, it triggers memories. This is partly because I have been moving around .

    Your post reminded me of my one and only reunion I attended, 28 years after my high school.

  22. Sometimes for me, nostalgia is almost homesickness. But I don’t get really down over it because my next thought is, how far I’ve come since then and what things I’ve seen and experienced that I never dreamed I would.

  23. Reunions are not for me. If I had wanted to keep in touch or ‘they’ had, it would have happened. It didn’t and so we’ve all moved in our different directions. It must be nice to have lifelong friends, though.

  24. There’s a lot of truth and wisdom here, Roger! It’s so true… I joined Friends Reunited when I was trying to find old friends I’d lost touch with and I did find most of them. I also found, though, that many of them were lost for a reason; we’d drifted apart and become different people than the children who spent so much time together at school. Others I’ve found and stuck with and it’s been good.

    Also correct that some had memories of things about me that I didn’t have, and even worse, some remembered me very well indeed (and liked me) but I had completely forgotten them! Reunion is a double-edged sword!

    Should I thank you for taking part? Nah .. I don’t think I need to. But I will congratulate you on an excellent post!

  25. A happy reunion photo, only been to a partial reunion for a class mates significant birthday. It was fun but we had not as much in common as when we were teenagers.
    Your post reminded me of my Grandmother, who lived through some tough times and used to say, referring the present, these are the good old days.

  26. My 35th is coming up and no one I care about is going. Pffft. I get nostalgic for good times past when life was much simpler. Can’t go back so keep looking forward one day at a time.

  27. Lovely post on nostalgia. Sometimes it is good to look back – but for the right reasons!

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