Friday, September 28, 2012

The "Pleasant" People in your Neighborhood

My dear readers, I am closing in on my 500th POST.  It is most exciting, but it's also odd that even though my blog is inherently nostalgic, I've never really discussed the affliction from which most of us "suffer".

One definition of nostalgia means "a bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past".  What they forget to mention are the rose-colored glasses by which many of us view this supposed past.  Guilty as charged.

And when I saw these wonderful die cuts yesterday at the Fox Valley Antique Mall-

KA-POW.  That "nostalgia" hit me right in the solar plexus.  And they had to be mine.  :)

If you've ever seen "Pleasantville", then you know what I'm talking about.  It's the movie where two present-day kids wind up entering their TV and becoming a part of a 1950's TV show called "Pleasantville", an obvious nod to the "Make Room for Daddy" and "Leave it to Beaver"s of our past.  They quickly learn that what may seem to be pleasant on the outside is horrifically stifling and bland.  The black-and-white series becomes color in piecemeal, by the characters' experiences in life (characterized by listening to jazz, contemplating modern art, and um, well, prurient activities (snicker, chortle, etc.).

I was born in 1968, a year of great turmoil - two major assassinations, the middle of the Vietnam war, riots in Chicago, and "those damn hippies"; maybe even  in utero I wanted an escape.  :D  I've always enjoyed conflict-free situations, and the ephemera of the middle century provides this.

When I saw these three gentleman staring at me, all I saw was a community where children behaved on the bus, the milkman delivered fresh dairy products (from the LOCAL dairy) direct to my door, and the very pleasant postman speedily delivered my mail, which included actual HANDWRITTEN letters from pleasant relatives!

This is the trap of nostalgia.  Beneath this pleasant surface lay racial tension, social injustice, child abuse, infidelity (it's always the milkman, don't you know!), and other "unpleasantness".  I never want to discount the strife that others felt during this time - I'm sure there are millions of Americans whose view of the middle century is FAR from the rosy picture I just painted.

In a full-circle twist, maybe that's the allure of nostalgia!  Maybe, for a brief second or two, we can forget that the world is full of very "un-nice" things.  When we view these pleasant gentlemen going about their day and making our lives easier, we can take a mini-vacation to a happier time, even if that time never existed.


  1. I too love the vintage look of mid-century graphics but it drives me crazy when people circulate those e-mails about "the good old days" and how we were better off then. (The last time someone sent me one, I replied that in the good old days my parents wouldn't have been allowed to marry in the state where they live now.)

    1. Exactly, Carolyn! It's the ILLUSION that people buy into. The past is never as great as we think it must've been - and therein lies (lay?) the trap of nostalgia!
      P.S. I'm very glad you and your sibs were born when (and where) you were. :D

    2. I was 16 in 1968 - & everythong I have ever seen - heard or read - there are always people who are uncomfortable with the new and always looking back not forward - I love the past but always try to temember that change is life and that when the waltz was first played it was considered outrageous and banned

  2. I hear ya Mel - as you know I love "retro" but when you look at those old BHG magazines and see words like "servants", black people portrayed in less then flattering ways, the SMOKING (Mad Men really got it), the way women are portrayed (do anything for your man)....that's my reality check...

  3. Great post, Mel! I just realized while reading this that I,too, love mid century retro things out of a desire to be conflict-free in my life. At least, it's part of that. I would not want to live in the mid-century, but it's fun to "remember."