Nostalgia. According to the dictionary, it’s a noun, a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.
I believe I’ve reached that age, after all I am 48 today.
I covered the 100th anniversary of the Morris Savings and Loan on Monday. I was greeted by the board of directors and various other employees. They were kind and cordial.
But all I could think about was the early 1970s and coming into the large building with my mother to pay her mortgage loan. Climbing a set of stairs at the teller’s window and picking out a dum dum from the dum dum tree.
Would it be root beer, or raspberry, maybe I’d go on the wild side and take pineapple.
I also remember the kitty-shaped coin holders where you safely tucked your change in and when it was full it equaled a certain amount of money that you could bring in and deposit in your account.
The problem with that is you had to tear the paper to get out the coins and then the kitty was ruined.
I think most of mine sat empty rather than the thought of tearing the paper. I was an odd child.
When we left the Savings and Loan, we’d grab dad’s dress shirts from Sparks Cleaners, which still sits there today and cross the street to the Tastee Freeze, always for a bowl of ice cream or other sweet treat. The dum dum was long gone by then.
The Tastee Freeze is long gone by now.
Monday night, as I sat in the parking lot of the Savings and Loan, I looked around at what was there, and what wasn’t. I remember the ATM going in at the Grundy Bank Drive Thru.
It was a big deal and my mom worked there, so I was fascinated by it.
Then I looked across to the Baum’s parking lot, where each year the carnival would come and me and my friends would spend countless dollars and even more energy rocking the cages back and forth, back and forth, trying to get your swing and weight right to get it to go in a full circle over the top. Admittedly I failed more than I succeeded.
It’s funny how, when you are raised somewhere, your memories of how they were flood back. You wonder how many of them are real and how many are imagined.
A Straight-Way dairy pizza on a Friday night followed up by some Blue Moon ice cream.
A real Cherry Coke while waiting for your french fries during bowling league on Saturdays when the youth leagues played, with “Oh What a Night” jamming from the jukebox.
How, when the weather was a scorcher, the owners of the skating rink opened up the walls to the outside, providing an entire wall of fresh air.
Joe’s hamburgers for a quarter, Townhouse chicken, the odd magazines at Enger’s that came wrapped in brown paper.
This was my childhood. This was Morris is the 1970s.
A time like no other. Or was it? If I have all these memories and emotions sitting in a parking lot, what must others have?
Carrying home the state football trophy? Biking with their dad down the I and M Canal Towpath. Horseshoes across from the high school. Annual family reunions.
Or perhaps one of my favorites, the smell of oil or car parts whatever it was as my dad hiked me up on the silver counter top at Kindlespire’s Auto Parts store.
Maybe it’s my age, or maybe I just wish things would slow down a little, be a little simpler.
• Heidi Litchfield is the senior news writer for the Morris Herald-News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.