Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Same Planet, Different Day

It seems these days it's easier than ever to get lost in the reverie of yesteryear. I was looking at some Polaroids going back to when I was a kid in the 70s. They were of my uncle. He was standing at the counter of Jim's Finer Foods, a neighborhood delicatessen he owned and operated on Chicago's south side with his mom (my grandmother). Both he and she have since died. Through the front screen door I could see the gas station across the street, and some trees. Both the station and the trees are gone now as well.

Suffice it to say, that Chicago neighborhood has radically changed over the years. Like my relatives and that street-side landscape, the store itself is gone now too, leveled to make way for some two-story apartment buildings that are also showing their age and decay. Forty years is a lot of water over the dam when it comes to the march of civilization. Forty years ago astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were happily skipping on the lunar surface. If you're old enough, you remember the rolling, black and white TV images of them bopping around the lunar module, planting the U.S. flag, and becoming the first two men to set foot on the moon. And 40 years from now? Well, who knows? Affordable deep-sea condominiums? A world free of AIDS? A single language we all know and understand?

Sometimes it seems the forces at work in the world are beyond our control. We watch the news and what we see seems too bizarre to be real: countries swelling with the influx of refugees escaping armed conflict, major storms blasting places like Japan and Myanmar and Indonesia and New Orleans, a commercial airliner shot out of the sky. It's enough to make a guy yearn for the good ole days when people were riled by Woodstock and Watergate and Women's Lib ... and when 50 cents bought you 50 pieces of Bazooka.

Sometimes it's hard to imagine these are the good ole days for today's kids.

I wonder what they will be saying in 40 years.

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