Stepping back in time is so interesting . . . in fact, it is often just plain, simple fun! Whether you are a teenager wanting to learn about the eras in which your parents grew up or the adult who wants to relive the memories, the nostalgia is an alluring invitation for a trip down memory lane.
More than likely at one time or another you have said, or heard someone else say the phrase way back when. Its context could be in reference to good times or bad times but in either case reflects upon events of the distant past—a different year, decade or even a different era. Some folks refer to it as back in the day. But, whose day? Before indoor plumbing? Before electricity? Before the phonograph? Before the automobile? Before radio? Before television? Before the cellphone, iPhone, iPad?
Regardless of how you say it, distinctive spans of time become identifiers for each individual. There are countless, precious moments held dear to the heart before time erases all memory. Each footnote has its own unique melody playing out the music of life. Looking back provides reflections into who we are, how we have evolved and in some instances, where we are going [again]. Making comparisons of how things were ‘back in the day’ to present day is often hilarious. The changes in fashion, cars, appliances, entertainment and sayings about the future (which is now the present) can have one doubling over with laughter or simply smiling in amazement.
Conversations can quickly turn to making comparisons of the amenities that are commonplace today but totally void in the past. Such things as living in houses with dirt floors, having to complete private business in outhouses, boiling clothes to get them clean, bathing once a month with or without soap, etc. are considered primitive by today’s standards. Of course, we don’t have to step that far back in time. Simply disregard the cellphone, TV and Internet. Without those three, some people would not know how to survive.
Many comparisons to way back when or back in the day are derived from the changes in the state of the economy. For instance, think about the cost of gasoline. Today excitement abounds if to fill the car, truck, lawn mower or farm equipment with gas costs under $4.00 a gallon. Also, if a trip to the doctor’s office or a prescription is under $100, shouts of jubilation can be heard! It has not always been that way. Can you date either of these scenarios? Do you remember when…
Who would have thought gas would ever cost 25 cents a gallon? I hear it will soon go up to 26 cents. Up a penny now, another penny later. The rate it is going gasoline will reach a dollar a gallon before we know it. What’s the world coming to?
At $15.00 a day in the hospital, no one can afford to be sick anymore. All those doctors want to do is make their lives easier at our expense! Maw, what’s that home remedy for sore throat?
These are only a random sampling of conversations today that ultimately begin with I remember when or back in the day. These examples would place one’s when in the 50s.
Another inevitable change through the decades is the use of catch phrases. These are expressions used repeatedly until at some point in time they are replaced or simply have worn themselves out. See if you can date any of the following:
Look at that cat’s ‘zoot’ suit. It’s crazy, man.
You are ‘lighting up the tilt sign!’
‘Are we having fun yet?’
Can you dig it?
If you recognize the ‘zoot’ suit, your memories have dated back to men’s fashion of the 40s, which consisted of a long jacket with wide shoulders and pants that were wide at the top but narrow at the bottom. ‘Lighting up the tilt sign’ was slang of the 50s when someone was not telling the truth. ‘Are we having fun yet?’ is the most famous quote by bizarre, non-sequitur-spouting comic strip character Zippy the Pinhead. This caught on quite rapidly with the general public in the 60s. The phrase ‘Can you dig it?’ was first used in the awesome cult classic “The Warriors.” It became synonymous with ‘groovy’ in the 70s. The wild and funky decade, the 80s, spawned ‘Say What’ and ‘Mikey Likes It,’ both of which ran the gamut. ‘Whatever!’ was made popular in the 90s and is the one that has been dubbed the most irritating in the English language. Then, there is ‘Wassup!’ stemming from a Budweiser commercial that definitely bludgeoned itself to death in the beginning of the new millennium. It thankfully died!
Movies are a great source of entertainment with certain movie lines sticking in our heads, much like the catch phrases, to be repeated just at the right place and time in real life. Here are but a few. See if you remember using them upon occasion, perhaps even recently.
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Gone with the Wind (1939)
“Well, nobody’s perfect.” Some Like it Hot (1959)
“Bond. James Bond.” Dr. No (1962)
“May the force be with you.” Star Wars (1977)
“I’ll be back.” The Terminator (1984)
“Houston, we have a problem.” Apollo 13 (1995)
The memory triggers during a visit to the past vary greatly. Hopefully those shared here are ones that have brought on smiles, adding a bit of humor to the day. To end our trip down memory lane, do you recall who said…
“Love is being stupid together.”
“Ever notice how “what the hell” is always the right answer?”
Both are still very apropos in the 21st century. The first is credited to Paul Valéry but made popular by Lucille Ball in the I Love Lucy show. The second is said to be attributed to none other than Marilyn Monroe but not credited to her as an original.
And life goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times…
Way Back When
Way back when could be days gone by
When leisure reigned and time didn’t fly
Back in the day brought a blissful vision
Summer nights with no television
We’d play hide-n-seek way passed dark
When shadows played tricks as we embarked
Wearing socks emitted soundless steps
Muffled strides which slowly crept
Good ol’ days forged many a fable
When conversation ruled the dinner table
Freshly cooked chow incited a snicker
“Peas, please, and the pot liquor”
Way back when could be days gone by
When things remembered made you cry
Reminiscing brought an unwelcomed vision
Summer nights with no television
We’d play inside after Jack Frost
When darkness reigned and time was lost
Sounds of the night repeated all week
Rocking chairs that steadily creaked
Now the days pass much too fast
Memories still linger holding on to the past
Remembrances prompt the slyest grin
“A way of life, way back when!”
©2009 Remembering Sharla Lee Shults
“Let each day begin with happy thoughts that return to remember when.” ~SLS
Poem excepted from Remembering (http://goo.gl/C5PZcP) by Sharla Lee Shults. Sharla’s passion for writing is poetry: Historical and inspirational. Become acquainted with her writing by visiting http://sharlashults.com/ where links are accessible to her books, blogs and social networks. Sharla previously shared here at The Write Room: A Woodsy Morning http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=1060, A Day That Will Live in Infamy: December 7, 1941 http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=1538, Why do you celebrate Memorial Day? http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=2082 and joined Linda Hales in Turning Winter into Summer http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=1695.