Missing: Impossible?

One of the things I love about living in the 21st Century is how easy it is to surround yourself with reminders of the 20th Century. Last week I talked about the catchphrases we carry along with us. Now I realize that there are lots of other things we can recapture.

Looking for the toys you lost in the backyard sandbox years ago? Go to eBay. (You should see my collection of Dinky Toys [see photo for example].)

Looking for that Scholastic Books paperback you loved as a child? Go to Alibris. (Not that I’d be willing to pay $50 for The Ghost of Dibble Hollow, but it’s there.)

Looking for a DVD of your favorite television show? Go to Amazon. (Whoever thought McHale’s Navy would be put on DVD?)

Looking for your favorite candy from childhood? Go to OldTimeCandy. (OMG, they finally have Turkish Taffy … I wonder if my teeth can handle it?)

Looking for a lost classmate? Go to Facebook. (One of the girls I had a crush on in my elementary school friended me recently, so I can die happy.)

Is there anything left to miss? Absolutely. In fact, because there’s so much available, it deepens my pangs for those things still missing.

People. I miss late parents, teachers — and increasingly, people my own age. And of course, all the pets we’ve had.

Places. There’s an absolutely wonderful blog on a local newspaper site where people have posted their memories of growing up in Palo Alto — the creeks we played in, the candy stores where we spent our dimes and nickels, the orchards where we played hide-and-seek. It’s like walking down a memory lane that splits off in a dozen different directions.

Food. I miss Baskin-Robbins’ licorice ice cream. It was charcoal gray and turned your tongue that color. I miss Crispy Critters, especially after they added the pink elephants. I miss delicatessens. There was a place in Palo Alto when I was a teen-ager called the Old Country Delicatessen. The portly women behind the counter spoke German and the sandwiches they made were sinfully delicious.

Meeting at the airport. Of all the things terrorists have stolen from us, the one I miss the most is the ability to meet people at airports. Once in college, I was picking up some friends after a spring vacation, and we ran into some other friends who were waiting for a plane arriving just a little while later. Eventually, there were a dozen of us, laughing, chatting, sharing vacation stories. I also used to meet my friend Andrew’s family at the airport as they were changing planes between Honolulu and Seattle. Because I used his mother’s recipe, there was usually an exchange of chocolate chip cookies involved.

So life really isn’t missing: impossible. The problem is that you never know when something is going to be whisked away, never to be seen again. Usually it isn’t whisked so much as it fades, until the day when you realize, hey, whatever happened to …, and it’s not only gone but it’s irretrievable. It’s one thing when we make those decisions ourselves, as when we choose to give away old toys. It’s quite another when time and progress and politics and corporate decisions remove those decisions from us.

That pretty much encapsulates life — learning how to let go of the things that you’d truly like to take with you but can’t.

For everything else, there’s eBay.

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About middleagecranky

The Middle-Age Cranky blog is written by baby boomer Howard Baldwin, who finds the world, while occasionally wondrous, increasingly aggravating.
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8 Responses to Missing: Impossible?

  1. Great article. I mostly miss how simple and fearless life was back in the 50s, 60s and 70s. If you were a kid, you could run to the store for your mother and buy a loaf of bread – and not get harassed or robbed. Or ride your bike (pedal version) all over town with your gang. Or stay outside in the park until twilight capturing fireflies in a jar. We all knew who the weirdos were and we stayed away from them. We didn’t (as far as I know) have any close encounters with serial killers.

    I miss my grandfather, a successful entrepreneur and self-made man with only a 6th grade education and thus a ton of common sense. He took me everywhere with him when I was a kid, including non-Mother-approved adventures like picking the dump and assisting him in mildly dangerous construction projects on the old buildings that he was always buying, fixing up and reselling. He took me deep-sea fishing, although he was deathly afraid of the ocean. He accurately predicted many of the trends that trouble our country today. He lived to 102, and I still think about him every day.

    Of course, I miss the old clam shack at our local beach, digging mussels at the beach and cooking them up at home, the blueberry bush in our front yard (pies! tarts!), and Alyce’s home made ice cream.

    • Thanks for the memories, Janice. I would highly recommend going to the Web site of your hometown newspaper (if it still exists), and start a “memories” thread. I’ve seen them on other newspaper sites, and they’re a kick!

  2. Ruth says:

    love it! can totally relate. and I too miss delicatessans, especially Murphy’s with their kosher tongue sandwiches, their general disarray and the small booths–with the red-covered seats and worn tables–we would sit in while eating those delictable things…

    • What is it about delicatessens, Ruth? After I thought about the Old Country Delicatessen in Palo Alto, I started thinking about a lot of others that I’ve patronized over the years, most of which are gone. The narrow and cluttered aisles, full of stuff whose expiration date I was almost afraid to look at, but always a smorgasbord of amazing stuff!

  3. Ah, the old Ken’s Deli on Boylston Street in Boston – heart failure on a plate!

  4. Sondra Newman says:

    Howard, You do know how to capture the nostalgia-itis that’s afflicting me and all my cousins right now. The one advantage to being this unutterable age is that it’s so much fun to reminisce! And you’re so right about e-bay — I found a Hazel Atlas mug just like I used as a 4- and 5 -year old with little red farm animals running around on it. It was that “Rosebud” moment! Sondra

  5. lois says:

    Oh, every word you utter above is so true you have me here blubbering in my hanky……..a virtual hanky of course…..does anyone have hankies anymore???

    • Sondra Newman says:

      Yes, I have hankies. When I take one out of my pocket or purse, people have been known to stare. No doubt surprised it’s not with all the others in the International Hankie Museum.

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