If I Could Turn Back Time

Merry-go-round

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ~ From the television show The Wonder Years

Ah, the wonder years; so sweet, so fleeting, so….long ago. 

Or maybe only yesterday? I suppose it varies for everyone. 

For me, I would return to my childhood; those magical years of believing that the good guys always win, really bad things only happen to other people, and everyone lives happily ever after.

The details of those memories have grown vague through the decades, but some of the childlike beliefs remain clear in my mind’s eye. Mom and Dad would always be around to take care of us:  Dad never ran out of money, always had a job, knew how to fix everything, and always took us on a two week summer vacation. Mom fed us, always cleaned the house, took care of us when we got sick, and always signed the report cards. 

 Always. That was the reoccurring theme that ran through everything I experienced and believed as a kid. Sure, I knew that things changed as one grew up:  we’d go to college, get a career, get married, have our own families, etc. But those were all positive things; I never thought about or realized that there would be negative changes as well. 

children running
I guess you could think of it as “ignorance is bliss.” We were blissfully ignorant to the problems and sorrow happening, not only in the world, but in our own families as well. During the years from 1961 to 1973 (my birth through age 12) the following world events occurred:
  • The Berlin Wall was built
  • Marilyn Monroe died
  • Cuban Missile Crisis brings the US and USSR to the brink of nuclear conflict
  • US President John F Kennedy assassinated
  • Star Trek debuts on US television
  • The US enters the Vietnam War
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated
  • Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon
  • Four student protesters shot dead by the National Guard at Kent State University, US
  • The microprocessor – the foundation for today’s computers – is introduced

 

BW Kids watching TVOkay, so it wasn’t all bad. I remember some amazing things, like the Apollo 11 mission. I stood on the beach in Florida and watched Neil Armstrong and his crew blast off from Kennedy Space Center, headed for the moon. Four days later, on a black and white television screen, we watched his historic moonwalk. I would go on to witness many more positive and negative world events.

My own family was very fortunate during this time. Everyone, including aunts, uncles, and grandparents, were still “young.” There were only a couple of funerals throughout those years and the only near tragedy was an auto accident that left my uncle in critical condition and a coma for a week. Fortunately, he recovered and lived another 40+ years.

So, when I reminisce about those days, everything has the nostalgia that comes from selective memory. We have the unique knack of forgetting the bad stuff and retaining the good.

  • When I think of rainy days, I remember building dams against the curbs on the streets; not the thunderstorms that drove me under a blanket with fear.
  • When I think of school, I remember the fun of the holiday parties, not the frustration of trying to learn multiplication tables.
  • Summers were filled with long sunny days spent down the hollow catching crawfish and playing until the curfew sounded at 10 pm, not the nights in a damp bed, sweating from the humidity, listening to the drone of a box fan.
  • Our TV was black and white, with only three channels, but I remember the excitement of watching studio wrestling on Saturday nights.  

Childhood was long enough ago that the unhappiness and bad times have sufficiently faded. Unfortunately, much of the good stuff has also. I have to make a concerted effort to remember those days, but the pleasure comes more quickly than the pain. 

 

children on monkeybars

For me, those years represent an all-too-short period of time when worries were for grownups and we were in the business of having fun. We would learn that always and never don’t apply. That bad things can and do touch our lives. That not all change is good and some people don’t live happily ever after.

But those happy memories stay with us, like a sweet gift that we tuck away in a drawer, to be pulled out whenever we want. Memories are the only real connection to the past that lasts and, if we’re lucky, they stay with us to the end.

 

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4 thoughts on “

  1. I remember when I was young and on the school playground, seeing some kids be mean to other kids and thinking, “They won’t act like that when they’re grown up.” I thought all grown ups were kind and sensible. Ignorance truly was bliss! Thanks for sharing….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, seeing those episodes of bullying were very tough for me (I tend toward co-dependency.) I thought the same thing; that growing up meant leaving childish behavior behind. That was the takeaway for the post; that our childhood innocence was a lovely, abeit temporary buffer against the realities of life. I’d like to go back and stay there! 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 2 people

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