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Get groovy and feel the nostalgia for yesteryear, Daddy-O

Burt's Eye View

How did we get so mixed up over nostalgia?

By definition, nostalgia is a yearning to revisit a past period in one’s life. That leaves out my junior high school years.

Speaking of which, when I was in junior high, once or twice a year, we would have ’50s Days, in which we all came to school dressed exactly like kids did in the 1950s.

“We never dressed like that,” my mom said. “Wearing T-shirts, jeans and leather jackets to school just wasn’t done.” Her nose wrinkled. “Just how much product did you dump into your hair?”

My daughter, who was born in the late 1980s, and her friends dressed up for ’70s Days.

“I don’t remember elephant bells and polyester looking quite so …” I couldn’t find the right words.

“Geeky? Nerdy? Weird?” she suggested.

“Uncool,” I said. “Our clothes were groovy, and that’s not how we wore them.”

I got my revenge when my grandson needed to costume up for ’90s Days. Booyah!

Each generation is overcome with a yearning for the days back when it was summertime and the livin’ was easy. I know now how crazy that concept is — but I’m still doing it.

I pre-set a button on my car stereo for a station that plays music from the 1930s and 1940s. I carry collections of radio comedies and dramas originally broadcast in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. After a stressful workday, this lets me slip back into the thrilling days of yesteryear. I slide into an era when none of my troubles existed — mostly because I didn’t exist yet.

I don’t get carried away with nostalgia. Rarely do I reflect wistfully about how lovely it would be to chase down a mastodon for supper with a sharp stone tied onto a stick. Nor do I dream of flying bombing raids in the 1940s or even going back to the 1960s and ’70s when I was forced to write term papers without Google. Talk about primitive times!

So it’s strange how I can hop into Sherman and Mr. Peabody’s WABAC Machine and tune in something from an era I never experienced and feel so at home. Modern-day pressures are gone.

Until the other day when I started listening to 1956 episodes of “Gunsmoke,” starring William Conrad. During commercial breaks, a cigarette company urged me in a bouncy jingle to “Live modern. Live modern. Lii-iii-ii-ve. Modern.”

Which is exactly what I was trying to escape for a few moments of relief.

So what did “modern” mean 64 years ago, when I wasn’t? The commercial touted all-white Miracle Tip that made that brand of cigarettes a healthy choice. Today, we still search for healthy choices of things that aren’t.

Also in 1956, Republicans and Democrats tore into each other’s candidates before elections in November; black Americans were forced to stand up for rights that were being denied; and a long-awaited vaccine finally became available.

I don’t think they knew just how modern they were living. Or maybe we’re living in nostalgic times now and don’t know it.

All I know is that around Dodge City and in the territories out West, there’s just one way to handle the killers and the spoilers, and that’s with a U.S. marshal and the smell of — Brylcreem!

Stop and smell the Play-Doh, Daddy-O. Far out.

• Ride dinosaurs with Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.

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