"Nostalgia isn't what it used to be."
-- Peter De Vries
Do you remember Helen Forrest singing, "Time waits for no one, it passes you by ... "?
If you do, that makes two of us. The year was 1944. Funny how I can recall a song from so long ago but can't remember where I placed my glasses just now!
If I look for an original of Ms. Forrest's record, I expect to find it on a 78 rpm "platter." Know of anyone who still owns a phonograph player for 78s? As 1 recall, platters were eventually replaced by the smaller and lighter 45 rpm vinyl discs in the late '50s. Thought I'd throw that in for the trivia buff.
Photo albums were popular during my mother's time. She spent hours painstakingly sorting and arranging photos in albums mostly of family. The problem is once my mother passed on, many of her unmarked pictures, save for those of our family, meant little to me. That also applied to the boxes of unidentifiable loose photos my wife and I culled and got rid of, since continuing to hold onto them was pointless.
Having lived my entire life (except World War II and my stint in the Army) in the East Bay, I can righteously say I was around when almost all the major events took place locally since 1932. A few of my contemporaries claim ours were the "Golden Years." I won't go that far. However, 1 will state we lived through some of the best of times and the worst of times.
Life seemed uncomplicated back in the olden days. West Oakland -- where I was born -- was replete with once opulent Victorian-style houses that weathered badly over time, and a goodly number of them being occupied by indigent families.
My folks lived in an aging one-bedroom, one-bathroom flat above my dad's grocery store. Inconvenient? You bet, considering there were five of us in my family. On the other hand, we felt fortunate compared to families that had as many as eight and nine children.
Everyone grumbled about the harsh conditions but we all managed to live through it. After all, we didn't have much to begin with so we really didn't know what we were missing.
That all changed after WWII when tract homes began popping up like weeds all over the state promoting three- and four-bedroom with two-bathroom residences for nothing down and at low interest rates.
So did our once penny-pinching lifestyle change.
Motel 6 made its debut in Southern California several years later as an economy inn intended for budget-minded families at six dollars per night and within short order, spread all around the country.
At that rate, my wife and I were able to take our kids during one summer break to visit all 21 of the historical California missions from Sonoma to San Diego and still have money left to regularly dine at Denny's along the route.
Although it's been many years since we stayed at a Motel 6, I assume little has changed except for the room rate. In the meantime, most other motels and hotels have been changing with the times and adding new features at an expected higher cost to attract more customers.
My wife and I recently checked into a modestly priced hotel, and after receiving our room keys -- or I should say cards -- we proceeded to the elevator with luggage in hand.
After entering, I punched the button for our floor. Nothing happened. 1 punched it again and still nothing. At that time, another passenger got on and also punched the button with no result. After some sleuthing, we realized we needed to insert our room card into a not-readily-visible slot to activate the elevator!
At times, I prefer the one-time elevator that was operated by an attendant who cautioned you to watch your step as you entered, asked you for your floor, and waited until you exited before closing the gate.
Although it sometimes seemed an eternity before you got to your floor, the operator got you there safely with rarely a mishap. And equally important, it provided a steady job for an older person that he or she could handle with little physical effort.
If I were faced with having to choose between living in the future and living in the past, the future would win hands down. Even at my age, I know all I need to know about the past, and like a kid at Christmastime, I can hardly wait to see what's in the presents under the tree!
Eizo Kobayashi is a Concord resident and a member of the Concord Senior Citizens Club. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.