The Way We Were, Rich Paschall

Memories light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories of the way we were.

It has occurred to me that the formative moments of my lifetime have no point of reference for anyone born after 1990. I have sometimes referred to events that I remember well, only to have younger people, sometimes not even “young” people, look at me as if they can not relate to that time in history.

Perhaps it was the same when I was younger and hearing about things that were not that much earlier than my lifetime.  For example, I could not relate to the stories of the depression era, even though that point in time dramatically affected the lives of my parents and grandparents.

World War II was something we read about in history books.  I could not consider that my father was a member of our “greatest generation” and fought in the war. In fact he served in the 509 Composite on Tinian Island.  It never occurred to me to question him about the historic events of his time.

Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were

The “Leave It To Beaver” and “Father Knows Best” days of the 1950’s are rather a blur to me.  I hold isolated memories of certain moments, some of them were good, others not so much.  I do remember getting to watch particular programs on our large 19 inch black and white television. It would be a long time before color television came along and we could afford one of those.

Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line

Alan Shepherd was the first man in space and we watched it on television in 1961. Ten years later he walked on the moon. Sometimes we got to watch reports of the space program on television in school.

I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. It was a time when it seemed like nuclear war was right around the corner. We had air raid drills at school. We got under our desks and covered our heads as if that was going to protect us from a nuclear explosion. We knew where the air raid shelters were located in case we needed to go there in non-school hours. I am pretty sure we stocked up on can goods just in case supermarkets and food supplies were blown into the next dimension.

Like many Americans, I know where I was when John Kennedy was shot. We followed the non-stop television coverage during a time when there was no cable or satellite television and no all-news stations. What could be more important than the assassination of our president?

Memories may be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget

I recall the assassination of Martin Luther King and the worries that followed. Then there was the assassination of Robert Kennedy. It was too painful to remember, but these things shaped our youth.

Martin Luther King

The Viet Nam War was not a moment in history to us. It was a long and complicated process that split America apart and brought protests to the street. Living in a major urban area, we always wondered if the unrest would reach us. The Democratic National Convention was here in 1968. Riots erupted in the park that now holds Lollapalooza each year.

The break-in of the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate complex in 1972 ultimately brought down a president. It all played out in dramatic fashion on live television. Today many scandals have the word “gate” added to the end. Young people likely have no idea why.

So it’s the laughter we will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were

The late ’70s brought us disco and urban cowboys. We were old enough then to go to clubs and dance like we knew what we were doing. Our music moved from social commentary to “dance fever.” It was a quick shift in the social dynamic. We also had gas shortages in ’73 and ’79. Yes, gas stations would run out of gas and there were times when you could only buy gas on certain days, depending on your license number.  I didn’t own a car the first time, and I guess I didn’t get around much the second time.

The ’80s were a time of community theater and new friendships for me.  I also remember the fallacy of trickle-down economics. It was the same failed theory as today’s failed policy. The Cold War ended, well sort of. The AIDS crisis began.

From there the rest of life intervened.  You know, going to work, paying the bills, trying to get by in a complicated world. There were issues of aging parents and family obligations. Then one day you are just older, like your grandparents were when you were young.

If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we?
Could we?


Which of these events was the most significant in my life? I am not sure I can say. They all affected us in ways it is hard to tell many years later. But these are the ones that stand out.  It is the stream of my consciousness. They are the events that light the corners of my mind.  I did not write them down in advance. I sat down and just wrote them out as they came to me. Do these events mean anything to anyone born after 1990?

I wonder what are the significant historic or social events for those born in 1991. Someday these millennials will find that there are people who can not relate to what they are saying.

By the way, I got to see Streisand do this twice in concert. It was worth every penny.

Categories: Events, Life, Rich Paschall

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

37 replies

  1. Kate Hepburn AND Barbra Streisand? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate Hepburn? I remember seeing Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? in the theater.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rich, me too. I wanted to see the big 3 — Tracy, Hepburn and Poitier.

        – Loved scene between Sidney and his Father. Resonated with me a lot.
        – Tracy’s last scene in film about commitments of true love. Turns out to be the last thing he would ever do.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Tracy knew it was the end. I read somewhere along the line that he told the director near the end of shooting that if he should die, they could shoot around him in the remaining scenes. There were three of the best ever preforming together. I saw it in the theater and loved it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Rich. me too. Even now that we’ve seen the movie many times and know what’s coming, it gets us emotionally.
            Again, The scene between Poitier and his Dad reminded me of my relationship with my Father. I never had the gumption to say what Sidney said – but it was in my mind.
            Tracy’s eloquent last speech about love, commitment, dealing with “problems” and the joy of a long and lasting marriage — it still brings tears to my eyes. It did in 1967 — and is even stronger today –when I have more perspective on life, love and marital commitment. (The last is a work in progress).

            Liked by 1 person

  2. All so interesting to me and artfully interspersed with the words to the song!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Not only do people forget history, they forget the day before yesterday. Of course, at my age, I forget this morning, too, but that’s a different issue. Garry was substitute teaching and was horrified to discover his students really didn’t know what 9/11 was all about. We might not have experienced WWII directly, but we certainly did KNOW about it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Really? They don’t know about that! I’m lost for words.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s pathetic. It’s like not having heard of Pearl Harbor when WE were growing up. But they don’t know anything. It’s just something “people say” and doesn’t mean anything to them at all.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It is sad. I wonder what history they are teaching and if anyone is paying attention. If they are not learning they may grow up insulting our allies and praising our adversaries.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Rich, not sure what they’re teaching. Some of the kids from my sub classes approached later and told me they enjoyed my efforts. They felt I wasn’t talking “down” to them but “to” them. They also said they thought what I said was relevant. It made my day. I did get some grief from administrators who felt I’d gone off the curriculum. What?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Administrators would rather you bore your kids to death. When I taught, in a previous life, the English Dept. chairman stopped me one deay to say that he could not believe my students were reading Beowulf. I saiid while I assigned it so they should be reading it. I could not really explain how I did that. He should have sat in.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Rich, it’s a wide-spread problem. We have an old friend who teaches English Lit at UMass-Amherst. He’s done everything possible to keep his students interested BEYOND the staid curriculum. He’s gotten little positive feed back from students and grief from the adminstrators for his innovative efforts. He’ll be packing it in soon and I understand.
                Rich, I couldn’t believe when I was criticized for teaching “outside the box”. They knew who and what they were getting when I signed on as a sub. I was excited in the beginning. That soon changed. I’ve talked with others who sub and they tell me they just follow orders and keep the kids quiet. A shame.

                Liked by 1 person

        • Their parents generation would have been impacted by it as much as our parents were by World War Two. It’s hard to believe they are so ignorant and very scary.

          Liked by 2 people

    • I did not know the things I could have, We now know history books were incomplete.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That sub teaching gig actually educated me as to how little the students know these days. Not only did they not know about 9/11, but they thought I covered World War 2 when I mentioned covering ‘Nam briefly. I wanted to grab their attention about local history. The once flourishing mills now shuttered dormants of the past – the plight of the working man and unions – union busting. it wasn’t in the text books. So, I ran “On The Waterfront” to showcase how the mob tried busting the union. They hissed because the film was B&W. They were clueless to Brando, Steiger, Malden, etc. The famous cab conversation with Brando’s “..I cudda been SOMEBODY!” went over like a lead balloon. So, I “danced on a dime” and told a few of my war stories to grab their attention. The first question — “How do you know what to say on camera?” the 2nd — “How much money do you make in TV News?”
      I was saved by the bell.

      Liked by 1 person

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