Ah, the wonder years; so sweet, so fleeting, so….long ago.
Or maybe only yesterday? I suppose it varies for everyone.
- 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
Okay, 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.
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.