Nostalgic Musings During Political Crisis

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Like millions of other Americans, I’ve listened to way too much political news and commentary over the past four years. My excuse to friends/family: “It’s history in the making,” or “These are historic times.”

Then, on January 6, 2021, the world witnessed a siege on the U.S. Capitol Building during the process of certifying Joe Biden as the next President of the United States and Kamala Harris as the next Vice President. On that day, “history in the making” felt shocking, dangerous, and tragic.

Since that day, I often find myself thinking about “the old days” as a way to escape current news events. The 50s and the early 60s were certainly not easy times. They had their own shock, danger, and tragedy. But I didn’t know. I was ignorant and innocent; my world was very small. This past week I found myself feeling nostalgic for some of the things I loved when I was young, ignorant, and innocent. They make me smile.

That Wall Telephone

Ours was the exact same color, and it was the only phone in the house. Occasionally, I would spend a bit of time sitting on the floor in the hallway and chatting with friend. But in general, I think my mom used the phone more than I did. If someone called, she would visit for a while and enjoy the break from housework, laundry, and cooking. I don’t remember her calling others to visit. We primarily used the phone for information: planning get-togethers, finding out if a store or restaurant was open, questioning something on a utility bill, etc. For some reason, thinking of that 60s era wall phone gives me a bit of comfort. Oh, right. Nobody could text me then. Life was quieter with fewer interruptions.

When Dr. Kokatec Made House Calls

I’m not sure of the spelling of his name, but I remember the doctor coming to our house a few times when I was sick and feverish with bronchitis or some upper respiratory issue. I didn’t like the shot in the butt he gave, but to recall that I lived in a time when doctors made house calls…well, that seems amazing. I remember him as being kind, gentle, and quite chubby. I also remember him telling me that eating chocolate causes pimples. Nope. Not true.

The Used Pink Schwinn Bike

I inherited things from my cousin, Geraldine…mostly clothes. But I was super excited to become the owner of her old pink Schwinn bicycle. That thing was a tank, and it didn’t take long for my dad to help me learn to ride it. I could not find an exact photo on the Internet, but it looked something like this…in bright PINK:

That bike gave me such a sense of freedom. I could ride it hands free and loved turning corners with my arms waving in the wind. And when I stopped, the brakes screeched to high heaven. Everyone knew I had arrived. I loved that bike and thoughts of it make me smile.

The Co-op and the Empty Lot

This building is where I grew up in Skokie, Illinois. Our co-op apartment was the lower left one. One thousand square ft, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, a tiny alcove kitchen, and Mom loved it. It hasn’t changed much on the outside:

Almost right across the street there was an empty lot that looked something like this:

Our empty lot had a huge tree on it. Friends and I played cowboys and Indians, vowed to make a tree house but never did, vowed to make a club house, but never did, and when we found a somewhat large animal skull, our imaginations went wild. This was a true treasure. In our minds it was proof that long ago, cattle traveled through the area along with covered wagons filled with those wanting a better life. I have no idea whatever happened to that skull. I don’t think my mom would have let me keep it. But I can see it and still feel the excitement of discovering it. I still wonder about its untold story.

And Those Other Fun Times…

Oak Street Beach, Chicago, Illinois

Oak Street Beach was a staple of my childhood since toddler days. I have photos of my mom as a teen posing at Oak Street Beach. For my cousin and I, there was something special about going to Oak Street Beach when we were teens and working on our tans.

I was delighted to find the above picture on Etsy and wrote to Ms. Sayle Moser, the photographer, asking for permission to use it in this blog post. She wrote back: “Absolutely!…I moved here six years ago and have fallen in love with the area. With everything shut down I have really missed visiting and exploring Chicagoland. Please feel free to use this image for your blog and post with photo credit to me. Happy writing. I send Blessings for Health and Happiness in the year to come. All my best, Sayle”

I wanted to include her response because it is so personable…and sent with blessings. Nice! This link will send you to her website where you can see more of her work: Enjoy.

So yes, I am nostalgic for Oak Street Beach. I think it’s in my family’s DNA.

Roller Skates

This was the type of skate I used and the same type of key. Looks primitive now, but I remember the thrill of speeding along the sidewalk with them attached to my shoe. I don’t have that agility anymore and I miss it. But the memories of skating with pals are there. They make me sigh.

The Mickey Mouse Club!

Yep, even as a grandma, when I see old photos of the Mickey Mouse Club I smile. I think that show made me believe in possibilities, certainly much more than church did at the time. However, that photo does not illustrate in any way the diversity of Americans living in neighborhoods all over the country. Major manipulated failing, of course.

Jumping Rope

My nostalgia for jumping rope is because I was very good at it. Period. Today I have an artificial knee and no jumping is allowed. Just as well. I’d probably have a heart attack if I tried.

But once upon a time…long, long ago…this was me:

…and I miss her.

About jjmummert

This blog was originally titled "Drifting Toward Planet Elderly," and it shared a journey I had with my elderly parents as they both finished their lives battling the complexities of dementia. After both passed on, I changed the title to "Living on Planet Elderly." I am a retiree who is reluctantly adjusting to the reality that she is now elderly. In July of 2021, I relocated to Middleton WI after living in Columbia MO for over 40 years. I decided that I want to experience a new and vibrant location in a cooler climate with lakes...a bucket list item of mine. I have a first cousin who lives in Madison. We have nice childhood memories, and I thought it would be wonderful to spend some time together as elders. It was. AND March 2023, I returned to Columbia. I had a wonderful time experiencing the Madison area of Wisconsin, spending time with my cousin, and making some wonderful friends. No regrets.
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