I have started to blog again after a week off and I realize I want to write quite a bit about the past. But I want to make a distinction between remembering and nostalgia. Nostalgia connotes a longing for the past, an often idealized past. Remembering, on the contrary, takes account of the whole spectrum of experience, both good and bad. Even when many of the memories I share in my blog are joyous or humorous ones, I have no desire to go back to that time. I harbor no illusion that the past was any less complicated or complex than the present.
I love this portrait of my great-grandmother Florence Hiltman Carpenter and the first six of her children, including my grandfather on the right in the back row. While Florence has managed a half smile, the baby is complaining, two of the siblings are grumpy and the others are beyond bored. Despite her probable desire to have this formal studio picture show her growing family in all their fancy clothes pleased to be photographed, the picture instead reflects the reality of life in a busy household.
So as I begin to share a new series which am calling “Fun and Games,” I invite my readers to join either in remembering or learning how it was many years ago. We did have many ways of being entertained before television or electronics and I love thinking about them. But we had polio, diphtheria, small pox, measles, chicken pox, and scarlet fever too. We were worried about nuclear war, watched many of our war veteran fathers drink themselves stupid, saw many of our mothers discouraged by the demands of large families, and have trouble knowing why anyone would long for that time to return. There’s no nostalgia on my end.