It’s hard to say goodbye to yesterday

Published 10:57 am Thursday, February 15, 2018

It seems that “The Wonder Years” premiered 30 years ago last week. I can recall sitting there with my side ponytail and New Kids on the Block nightgown watching it on the big console TV that sat like a behemoth in our den. 

I always had a bit of a crush on Fred Savage. Those dimples, ladies, tell me you don’t remember?

But I quickly came to the harsh realization that more time has now elapsed between 1988 and today than existed between the flashbacks of the 1960s recalled during the show and the then present day.

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Talk about making a person feel old! But, I got to thinking, just like the main character Kevin recalls the glory of his youth and hankers for a time when life was simpler, how too do folks of my own generation, those children of the eighties and nineties, do the same when we look back on our own childhood? 

I find myself longing for my own “wonder years” all the time.  A time when the internet didn’t exist and the phone was connected to the wall not tossed into a pocket or purse. 

I miss weekly trips to Thompson’s Foodtown, where my mom used to shop.  Where’s that high school boy to help me take my groceries to the car when I do my weekly shopping at the big box store?

I miss my dad pulling into Burton’s BP and just asking “Poochie” and the boys to “fill her up.” Why can’t I do that?  I’d pay a little extra if my hands didn’t get all smelly pumping my own gas. 

I miss filling my prescriptions at Drug Mart where everyone knew my name. Sometimes I think we’ve traded connectivity and community for convenience, and that makes me sad. 

It seems sometimes we’ve also traded some of the magic of childhood for safety and security. 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that bike helmets and seat belts save lives. But it does give me pause to realize my son will never know the freedom one feels when the wind blows through your hair as you ride your bike down the biggest hill in the neighborhood.

He will never ride seatbeltless in the back of a station wagon, GI Joe and My Little Pony sleeping bags spread out for a long trip. And he’ll never scorch his legs as he slides down that high metal slide at Lake Mingo (I guess I probably could have lived without that one, ouch!)

Just like Kevin, of that show from yesteryear, I fondly recall a world I once knew and a world that is now lost to time.  I guess all generations look back wistfully on their past, but we can’t dwell there. 

Although its hard to say goodbye to yesterday it is important for us to look forward to the future, appreciate the moment in which we live, and learn from the warm memories of bygone times. 

Erin Smith is a second-grade teacher at Nicholasville Elementary School.