By Cyndi Kay Green
The stories of our youth aren’t just stories. They represent who we are based on where we were.
My sister loved watching the movie “The Way We Were” which featured the song and lyric, “Memories, light the corners of my mind”, mainly because Robert Redford was the leading actor. As I have grown older, I can understand why the movie was one that became a classic.
What we’ve experienced carries into the present on the backs of who we have become.
Have you reached into the past to pick out and relish a time that brought a smile so big your face hurt? I have. Once upon a time when things seemed easier… I can recall how much life has changed. Do we drift back in time because we are unhappy and long to smile? Or do we simply drift back because something sparks a thought of moments long ago?
I’m just as sure that you, like me, remember the pain that we’ve faced only to realize the strength and insight that we now possess because of the experience.
As I write this blog, Barbara Streisand’s famous Memories song reminds me of my sister, even though she never talked about romance, she was definitely a fan of Streisand’s. The song’s invitation to memories that two people once shared during a brief romance, asks us to remember similar feelings. Even if we haven’t experienced them yet, the song causes us to believe we did.
Memories. What causes us to take a detour from current events?
Drifting Into Yesteryear
We were young, never thinking we would have overnight shopping available or carry phones in our hands at all hours of the day and into the night. We find a different kind of peace to soothe our aches. For me, during the time when “All in The Family” was the most offensive show on television, life didn’t seem to move so fast. Shopping shut down by 6 p.m., or 8 or at the latest during the holidays, 10 p.m. Television went static at midnight, and kids came in when the streetlamps began to light the neighborhoods in glowing orbs, halos and electric rays. At least that is how it was for me in rural America in the late 60’s and early 70’s. We could count on the Saturday Evening Post to chronicle this American life. With its meticulously drawn photos of kids, parents, and everything idyllic to an modern family, the Post brought to life the legacy of our great nation and the best part of life we had enjoyed within the states that define America.
Many of our elders know that life was not so ideal. After all, World War I occurred, named the great war for a reason, then the Cold War came directly after World War II. Race oppression and uprisings and the Korean War, Vietnam, etcetera, transformed perspectives and friendships and changed society so fast. The stress of cosmopolitan politics, women’s liberation, and homemade fears created amazingly complex memories full of contextual stories that are better than any Snapchat or TikTok.
Our great-grandparents’ memories tell us of the poverty and mothers’ abuse or father’s abandonment, the stock market crash and the Great Depression and how their momma made a meal for a family of six with wild dandelions, herbs, and vegetables from the previous year’s garden. It was a time of experimental vaccines for the years of polio epidemics, Franklin D. Roosevelt as president, and the dust bowl.
Our great-grandparents’ memories tell us of the poverty and mothers’ abuse or father’s abandonment, the stock market crash and the Great Depression and how their momma made a meal for a family of 6 with wild dandelions, herbs and vegetables from the previous year’s garden. It was a time of experimental vaccines for the years of polio epidemics, Franklin D. Roosevelt as president, and the dust bowl.
Dorthea Lange captured one of the most dramatic and historic photos of that era.
The Story from a Cold War Rocket Scientist
Sometimes, we are able to get these stories into a book so that many may be able to dive back into the days of our elders. One such book is Mister B: Living With a 98-year-old Rocket Scientist. This book is a memoir written by Mr. B’s daughter-in-law. In this lively memoir, we read story after story about the life that Joe Byk has lived throughout the realities of his century. We are taken back and forth from the current neighborhood where the street is lined with perfectly mowed yards to his seemingly ordinary tales with a twist, and some of them are simple antidotes. He is not one to beat around the bush when he makes his mind up. He gives us a glimpse of aerospace and the Cold War. We can learn some lessons from this quaint book about the memories of an immigrant turned Rocket Scientist.
• Keep track of what is going on in the world in order to understand the bigger picture.
• Getting out of the house is good for the soul.
• There is a chance that being a pioneer will not get you fame.
• We live in a world where computer training is must
There are many more lessons the characters observe and learn from each other’s perspective, but these really paint a picture of how life does certainly change.
Three Little Things
If you are on a mission to delve into more memories from yesteryear is a book by Patti Stockdale, Three Little Things. In this enticing book, the author uses love letters from her grandparents as inspiration for Hattie and Arno. The book takes us through the memories of being in love during wartime, but more intriguingly, we are guided through a relationship that grows from Hattie and Arno sharing three little things with each other. It all starts before wartime when Hattie had a crush on the neighbor boy, Arno.
As they grow, she finds herself trying to let go of that “love” because she feels that it can only be one way. Not until seeing the letters during wartime, does she realize that he had loved her all those years.
The couple’s coping memories for wary yearnings take you right into the very place they are standing. Whether it be in the parlor or the barracks, you are right there as they find the love that they have known all this time.
As we grow older, our stories are the most important thing we can pass down to our children and grandchildren. Of course, not all of us will have the rocket science stories, but we each have a particular legacy to share. The stories of our youth aren’t just stories. They represent who we are based on where we were.
How to Preserve a Legacy with Memories
There are two great ways to preserve our legacy and memories for our future generations. One is to write them in a 365-Day Journal. If you do not like to write, then have a family member help you with this. You can pick up a journal at any Walmart or Costco; even dollar stores have them. They do not have to be expensive. Some choose to use regular spiral notebooks or the composition style notebooks. Another way is to create a photo album, just like the days of your grandma.
If possible, photograph the magnificent moments in life. Not just the grandiose places but capture the moments that make your heart sing. Moments like your grandbabies swinging in the backyard. Those moments that you and your husband are making dinner and mistake sugar for salt.
Most of us have a cell phone nearby nowadays, so a quick snap and boom, there it is! — No more expensive copies of your photographs needed. Then you can pick a day once a month to go to the nearest photo printing shop and have your favorite captured memories printed directly from your phone. I am sure Mr. B would be one to pass on this, but it could be a way to share your story with the future generations of your family.
Memories are what connects us to the past as well as the future. Make sure your generations are able to know the stories and lessons of the “good ol days” by passing them down.