Longing for a Time.

I haven’t been writing much lately.  I’m in one of those times when things are swirling around me and I am swirling with it.  Time is going  much too fast.  We no longer have time to think.

When I finally slowed down the other day, I realized I was missing the past.  It started with reading an article about the television show “Bewitched”.  I was about 10 when it came on and I loved it.  Who wouldn’t like to be a beautiful witch who could make things happen with the wiggle of her nose?  But, it wasn’t just the show, but a feeling of a simpler time. A time when it seemed things were less complicated.  Of course, that may be just through my child’s eye.  But I know for sure that people were not as crazed as they are now, multitasking and on the electronic leash.  Fathers came home for dinner after work.  You ate at the table with your parents, and they corrected your manners.  The family didn’t each retreat in their own world, but would be around each other at night, even if it was just to watch TV.

Then my friend Dre, who is going is going to cooking school, posted a picture of a beautiful table setting he did for his class. There were white table cloths and  linen napkins made into little Bishop Caps.  And that got me thinking about how much I used to enjoy eating out.  When you got a little dressed up for the occasion and you used your correct table manners and people actually talked to each other.  There wasn’t din, because the restaurant was decorated with noise absorbing materials.  You didn’t have to scream at each other to be heard over the din of a TV, piped in music and the sound of plates crashing landing on the table. You had conversation, not texting.  Recently, on a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, we ate at one of  these throw back restaurants, the P.Graham Café where the Hot Brown Sandwich originated.  Even for a café, it was beautifully decorated.  White tablecloths and fresh flowers and a properly set table.  (of course, we opted for the Hot Brown Sandwich and yes, it was delicious in case you are wondering).  I remember being a young wife in the 70s, and setting my table every night with cloth napkins and candles, and cared that my table looked nice.  Mind you, the food might not have been great, but the table looked wonderful.

And then there is the shopping experience (you knew there would be shopping)  Back when I first got out of school, I worked for department store..  It actually had departments where sales people worked  and knew their merchandise.  They were nice and even helpful.  If you asked if they had a something in your size, they didn’t snarl at you. If you were in the dressing room, they were there to bring you another size or even something else you might like.  And there were free alterations.   In the shoe department, there were sales people who sat down, measured your feet and then brought out boxes from which they withdrew shoes and actually placed them on your feet.  There were no stacks of boxes where you were expected to dig through yourself to see if they had your size, no sales people flinging boxes at you as they move on to the next customer.  It was relaxing (although you have worried if you might have a hole in the toe of your pantyhose, for those who remember pantyhose).

I know that people say that it a sign of getting old when you look back  and talk about how much better the past was.  But now is so filled with bad news and incivility, instant answers to everything, and instant analysis by “experts” (who are these people?)  Although we have Google to give us all the information we might ever need,  there was something to be said about stumbling  on something fascinating while cruising the card catalog at the library.  There were problems then too – Nixon, and Watergate and the war in Viet Nam, but we had Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley and Chet Huntley, who reported the news on fact, and didn’t make themselves and their opinions part of the story.  Walter Cronkite once said that he was afraid he showed too much emotion when he took his glasses off, while reporting on the moon walk.  They expected that we were intelligent enough to put it in context and analyze it ourselves and form our own opinions.

I would never give up equality for women, for the right of a woman to choose, and a woman’s right to pursue any career she was drawn to (when I was in High School, the only choices open to women  were secretary, teacher, nurse, librarian or homemaker.)   I’m as attached to my smart phone as anyone else (and it is great for winning arguments); but I am not so attached that I don’t long for conversation that isn’t a text.  But if we could recapture  some civility and graciousness, I think it would be an improvement.

Until next time, Elsie

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