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The Day The Circus Left Town

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Lately, I’ve been doing a TON of reading. It’s something I do to help me procrastinate instead of actually writing my book. One of my most recent reads was “11/22/63” – by Stephen King.  Not at all a shocker for those of you that know me. I’ve been reading King’s stuff forever. Before reading the book, I had been haunted by a feeling of being in some way slighted by time. It really started strong once I had read the book, and enjoyed every pristine detail of King’s recounting of life in the fifties. The sights, the smells, the people, and believe it or not, even the taste of the fifties were all laid out in the book. The combination of all of these caused my heart to long for the simpler, more rational America. Now granted there was all of the paranoia about “The Bomb”, but putting that aside; 1950’s America was to me, the greatest America has ever been.

Back then, the cars were works of art – built of steel, and American sweat. Families were built better back then too. Everyone would eat at the table, families would talk about their days. Americans had an intense, insatiable pride for their country, and God, and our mothers. Teenaged pregnancy was taboo, and would never be the subject of its own TV show. Kids back then had morals. They still fooled around, but back then the stakes were higher.  No guy ever wanted to put his girl “in a bad way”.  Mothers knew each other. Fathers worked together. Kids went to school together. We said the pledge of allegiance in the mornings. We meant every word. America hadn’t gotten fat and lazy yet. We worked hard, and were paid little. Back then though, we didn’t need a lot to get what was needed. We were thankful for what we had. If you had the money to get a soda from a jerk, it was a treat – not a replacement for water. Americans stood their ground, and would fight for what we believed in. The men were real men. They would stand up so a woman could sit. They taught their boys to box, so they would know how to take care of themselves if they needed to. They drank beer, and smoked cigarettes, and listened to baseball games on the radio. Guys like Marlon Brando made movies about how hard life could get, and people somehow, could relate.  People would make sure they looked nice, just in case someone dropped by unexpectedly. Americans stuck together. It’s what we did.

Time marched on.

Today, I sit here typing this on my laptop in my bedroom. I have to go to work tomorrow at 3:00 in the afternoon. Both are situations that never would’ve happened in the 1950’s. Things have changed…some are better, most are worse. I suppose I’ll always miss the days I never had. I can read and write about the times, places, and people of the fifties I guess. Somewhere though, in the back of my mind, I know the golden days are gone and I missed them. I feel like the kid who got his allowance on the day the circus left town. I’ll never get to go back, but I can always hope I’m ready for the next show.

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2 Comments

  1. Ned's Blog says:

    Beautifully said, Joe. I’ve had that feeling too, and the line “I suppose I’ll always miss the days I never had” sums it up perfectly. Though that era was well before my time, it doesn’t mean I can’t miss the way things once were — even before I was.

    • Jimmy Buffet has a line in his song “A Pirate Looks At 40” that goes: “Yes I am a pirate, 200 years too late. The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothing to plunder; I’m an over 40 victim of fate.” I honestly can’t think of any verse from any song that fits the way I feel better than that. I just have this feeling that there was something great, and I got here just a little too late to witness it. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

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