Nostalgia for me meant the old people (parents of my friends, for example) who waxed about poodle skirts and hot rods. Our jr. high school had sock hops. Truman and Eisenhower were about as relevant to us as Garfield and Arthur–and not the cat or aardvark.
I found myself feeling a bit of the yearn for the kinder, gentler time of the 38th President, Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006). We went to the Capitol Rotunda to pay our respects. Me, the 12-year-old, and the 15-year-old.
12-year old: Why are we standing in this line?
Me: To pay our respects.
12-year old: Why?
I was stuck. Was it because he is a Michigan man? I ended up being weepy when we lost Bo, too. Was it because I remember him from my childhood, and he wasn’t Richard Nixon? Was it because he was an object of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players humor? Or the way that his brave wife made rehab into the modern penance for the rich and (in)famous? Or maybe because he shares my fondness for big yellow dogs?
Am I nostalgic for the time when there were such things as pro-choice, non-spinning republicans that oversaw the dismantling of a bad war? For a leader who used compromise as an agreement builder and integrity for his talisman? But was I making that up? I don’t remember the 70’s being as much fun as the show.
So as we snaked through the House side of the Capitol, and as we were rushed through the Rotunda and were denied a pause before the awesome statue of Sacajawea, I told the 12-year-old “All of the above.”
And he looked at me like it was 1976, and there were bell bottoms and Gran Torinos.