I’ve been a student of American History for most of my life. The thing that draws me to history is the constant challenge it presents to one’s perception of reality. We all live in a comfort zone and make assumptions that everyone is experiencing what we are and that things have always been as they are. Studying history never stops pulling the rug out from under one’s feet. Just when I thought I couldn’t be shocked, bam!, I’m laying on the floor!
This isn’t going to be easy because it involves a friend of mine and regardless of how this story unfolds, a myth or two about his ancestors may get dented and bruised a little.
If you know anything about the history of the West you’ve heard of the Dalton Brothers or the Dalton Gang. There were a lot of Daltons and there seems to have been only one, Frank, who spent much on the respectable side of the law. Well, one of my coffee drinking buddies is named Dalton and takes great pride in claiming he is a direct descendant of this famous band of train and bank robbers.
Back in the 60s I was living in Whittier, California. Both my wife and I were full-time college students and living off a very meager income. Our entertainment had to come from simple pleasures. Often we’d visit Knott’s Berry Farm which, at that time, didn’t cost anything to get into. Free parking, free admission and you could walk the place over without spending a dime.
Another simple pleasure was driving down to Santa Ana and going to Pier 1 Imports. I don’t know how many of these stores there were in the LA area or if they had gone nationwide yet. The one near us was the only one I knew of.
At that time imported goods weren’t that common in America and the only made in China junk was made in the Republic of China which we know today as Taiwan. The door to trade with the People’s Republic of China, aka Red China or mainland China, was still frozen shut. Most of Continue reading A New Biz Plan For Pier 1 Imports→
Remember the lyrics from Joni Mitchell’s song, Big Yellow Taxi, “They paved paradise to put up a parking lot?” Well, that is what happens to most, if not all, things considered paradise. Back in the early 1960s my ship pulled into the Naval Station at Key West, Florida a few times. Key West at the time was a small town sitting on an island that was mostly mangrove swamp and marshes. There was a road that encircled the island and one that cut across it laterally. The open air bars and quaint sidewalks were not crowded and the natives were hospitable and mainly friendly.
Like so many of you, I am a child of the Cold War. Those decades when the United States, China, and the Soviet Union kept the world on the edge of nuclear holocaust 24/7-365.
During those decades we all learned to “duck and cover“, be aware of strangers asking questions, fear Communism (even if we didn’t know what it was), accept the cost of a strong military, permit the government to conduct highly secret operations, and stand quietly by while the House Un-American Activities Committee stripped many Americans of their rights because they wouldn’t roll over and drink the Kool-Aid.
I’m a member of a group on Facebook composed of current and former residents of my hometown, Greenfield, Ohio. This group was formed several months ago by a woman who lived in and went to school in Greenfield during the early 1960s. She, like so many others, long ago moved away but never forgot what growing up in a small town was like.
There are over 300 members of the group now and most of the conversation centers around “do you remember” kinds of things. It’s been a wonderful experience and I’ve learned much from being privy to the collective memories of those who take part.
One recently asked question was, “What do you miss most about Greenfield?” My answer was different from many. While many people could generate a specific list of things they seemed to genuinely miss, I could only create a list of those things I enjoyed experiencing but wouldn’t particularly want to experience again. I have fond memories of, but don’t miss the past. Continue reading “History Yes, Nostalgia No”→