I often watch movies that have an older theme. Not the black and whites, as they tend to have poor acting as opposed to today’s learned actors who have gone through many schools to learn method acting and the like. I watch them because I feel a sense of nostalgia for day’s long gone.
I watch them and think of my grandfather, scally cap, suspenders, traveling the lonesome roads of the US selling bakery cooking goods. Utensils and the like…he had a bakery, and could bake (as we found in our years as his grandchildren) but one day realized in Portsmouth Ohio that a bakery would not feed his family so he became a traveling salesman.
He was a young man, immigrated, and worked his way up to 10 – the child of a circus performer, until he tired of it all and hitchhiked to Florida to live with his uncle, and then moved around til he found Ohio, and eventually met my grandmother, a musician playing in gospel bands. She played twelve string and even played with the like of Hank Williams on the road. That old, tired, well-worn man who had seen so many horrors and times of joy, from the death of his son in Korea to the graduation of his grandsons from college.
We often go back to those movies, and see the scally caps, the suspenders. The worn looks, the soot ridden faces. The character of immigrants, the strength of those living on top of each other who looked to a better day and raised our grandparents right in the streets of whatever city and town. And we see those who didn’t do right, those criminals, who still did what the law abiding did…worked hard for their money, however gained, to see a better future for their children. The cars, the music, the styles of a time gone by in the 20’s and 30’s…into the 40’s as we won World War 2 and then 50’s where life seemed simple. Our ideas of Grease and other genre movies as we see what life was….and we feel robbed of such simplicity.
Today, unlike any generation before us, we see more and mroe a yearning for such times in different faces. The guy with the curly mustache, covered in tattoo’s and in suspenders and trouser’s…the girl who looks like a pin-up, who should be on painted on the front of B-24 bombing the Nazi’s, instead of hanging at the bar and taking photographs for Facebook.
We admire the beauty – we admire the look – it brings us all back to a time more simple.
But, we can never forget the times we live in – as we look upon those a little different than us, with a different look and perhaps a different lifestyle. Do they look upon the past for what it was, or for what they wish it was and think they were born in a wrong time.
As we were all born in a wrong time.
We take photos through filters to make them look old…tattoos of nautical stars by those who never sailed the seas by steam…those who look for vintage clothing and pull back into the music and culture of a time that seems so much less difficult.
But we forget the children of the Revolution, who looked at Valley Forge and found themselves at Antienam.
The kids who went to the trenches of World War 1 wanting to be Rough Riders.
The child who looked at the doughboys and hoped for his time in life’s sun, only to find the cold of Ardennes and the horrors of Bataan.
Do you even know these places, these events?
Or the boy who went to Korea, who loved his music, and ended up a sensation in his passing, with a song about him by his grandmother that became a Marine Corps hymn…a boy that was my uncle.
It is imperative that we look upon the past with a realism but live today and see the challenges we face today. No amount of old movies, scally caps, suspenders, flappers, and tight rolled jeans can replace what we live in today.
No one wants to relive the bad times, only the good times…even when they live in bad times.
So, I watch movies with a yearning for something different, and often find myself wishing I lived in a different time. But, that time is in the future – as I look at the eyes of my father, with the wonders he has seen, but the wonders he knows I will see when he has passed to Heaven. And the eyes of my grandmother and her songs who would never know the amazement of the world at her fingertips…the internet and the world’s knowledge I know…like the keys of an organ she knew so well.
And oh, the simplicity of her organ.
Next time you get a tattoo of days gone by and of nautical stars, of a pirate ship…remember the Marines who under Jefferson went to Tripoli on wooden ships. When you dress like a pinup girl, remember the bomber’s your image would have flown on, and the men you would have given comfort to in those trenches. And when you put on the suspenders and trousers, and curl your mustache, don’t forget the Irish who immigrated and faced oppression, and the men at Gettysburg who curled their mustaches the same way.
Many would have killed to live with our convenience of today…and many did so that you may have it.