So my kids are getting ready to go back to school, and for some reason the smell of new notebook paper and pulling out the backpacks makes me nostalgic. In hope of preserving of mutual memory, I bring you 10 things to remember from the last 40 years.
Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom
This show took us to exotic places and ignited our wonder over lands that most of us never dreamed of visiting, to see animals (in their natural habitat!) we would never find in our backyards. Also, remember how his assistant, Jim, did all the work and Marlin Perkins got the glory? Yes, it’s back on Animal Planet–but we’ll never recapture the unique window to the world that show gave us in its heyday.
The Muppet Show
The Muppets are still with us (thank God!), but cultural context ensures the clever fun and unifying force of the original show will never be matched.
Yes, you can still find a skating rink and test your wheels on a Friday night. But you won’t find the rest of your eighth-grade class there. And they probably won’t play Journey’s “Open Arms” for the couples’ skate.
The honest-to-goodness potluck
Yes, we still sit down to eat together. And sometimes we bring food. But most of the time, in my experience, these affairs are now catered–or the table is populated with food from the local deli or bakery (sometimes desperately disguised in a casserole dish from home). I’m as appreciative of food safety as anyone else, and I understand the impulse to avoid cooking ourselves. But there was something beautiful about feeding each other by the (mostly amateur) work of our hands.
Unquestioned urban legends
I’m not sure why, but for some reason I miss hearing a dramatic tale about wild jungle predators living in the sewers of a major American city and lacking the capacity to look it up and immediately discredit the story. We don’t have a lot of room for mystery anymore.
Boring summer vacations
Remember when summers were less busy than the school year?
Apparently a few of these still roam the streets of America. But it’s been a long time since I’ve seen one, and my favorite kind of car is a car full of books.
Gas station attendants
Poor guys, but it was kind of nice to pull up and have someone pump the gas for you.
Not knowing where your kid is
Now, of course I don’t mean this in the sense that “someone has taken my kid.” I mean there was a time (my childhood; I remember it well) when kids could go outside and play all day and parents knew they were OK–as long as they showed up for dinner.
Remember when we could call the Top 40 radio station and dedicate a song to someone we loved, with a reasonable certainty that they would actually be listening?
What did I miss?
© 2014 Amy Simpson.