Looking Back . . .

Essex and Orange isn’t just a political site. We’re all about the stuff that makes American life what it is and part of that is looking back at where we came from.

Some people look back and all they see are bad times. Of course, there were long periods of our history when things weren’t fair, and when people didn’t always have the opportunities they should have had. But when is everything ever perfect?

I was born in 1959 and grew up during the 60’s and 70’s. These were eras of huge upheaval and a lot of scary stuff happened. Here in California we had the Manson family, the Zodiac Killer, the Zebra Killings, and the Chowchilla school bus kidnapping: just a few of the terrifying things I remember happening within a hundred miles of my house. Of course, this is just a local list, there were a lot of other unpleasant things going on during that era, it was a crazy time.

However, even though those things were happening all around me, I still had a happy childhood. My parents were together and in love, and my brothers and I had a place to live, food to eat, and everything we needed. We may have wanted things we didn’t have, but we always had what we needed, and that’s what matters.

Life was much simpler then. Even though there were problems I think that people were generally happier, and more satisfied with their lives. We didn’t have as much, but then we don’t really need everything we “have to have” now. I remember explaining to my iphone toting son that when I was a kid we had one phone, at home, with no answering machine, no texting capability, and if someone else was using it you had to wait your turn. Then when you could use it, the odds were that the person you were trying to call wasn’t home so you had to keep trying because there was no way to let them know you’d called. This is one of the reasons kids would go to each others houses and ask if their friends could “come out and play.” I don’t think my son has ever done that. He and his friends don’t even talk anymore, they text.

I recently watched part of a marathon of “Mad Men.” What a great show! Entertaining and interesting, and for those of us who lived through the era, very nostalgic. The art directors and writers got it perfect! The clothes, hairstyles, and even the lighting, (the yellow light at Pete’s suburban house was exactly like I remembered). Houses were darker then, people had draperies they kept closed a large part of the time. In the summer it helped to keep the house cool, and in the winter they kept out drafts. Frankly, my memories of summer in California are of dark rooms, oscillating fans, and a lot of popsicles, (which we bought in large cardboard boxes at the drive-in dairy).

After watching a few episodes of “Mad Men” I found myself looking back at that time with a lot of affection. So many great memories! What touched me the most was AMC’s finale trailer. It included a song from an old Kodak commercial. I remember it well as it was one of my Dad’s favorites. He was a tough man, my father, but also very sentimental. That old Kodak commercial always made him tear up.

It’s a wonderful memory I have of him and one I treasure even more as he passed away last fall. Here’s to you Dad, I will always remember the times of our life.

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