The Good Old Days

Nostalgia's a funny thing. Our memories are usually fairly selective. We tend to remember the good and glaze over or completely forget the not-so-good. That's probably a healthy survival technique. People who have trouble letting go of the past's darker moments can often be seen on street corners with cardboard signs warning about the perils of the future or asking for beer money. In my case, my selective memory leads me to long for the simpler days of the Cold War. Face it, the only thing we really had to worry about from about 1949 to 1991, at least from an existential point of view, was thermonuclear war. That's it! It wouldn't take long and the planet would be fried and that would be that. Many believed that the potential results were so cataclysmic that it would never happen. And it didn't, at least not as envisioned around say 1957. Nowadays, as we geezers like to start our sentences, you never know who's going to try what and where they might try it. This is the age of the underwear bomber and the shoe bomber. Hell, any self-respecting superpower seeking world domination would never stoop to such levels, and there was a certain comfort one could derive from knowing that as one went about one's daily business. As long as you avoided the draft, stayed off Eastern Airlines flights that ended up in Havana instead of Miami, and stayed away from meetings of the local chapter of the Communist Party, you had little to worry about from one day to the next. That's undoubtedly an oversimplification, and it's not meant to downplay the serious risks that many here and abroad faced during the Cold War. But like I said, nostalgia's a funny thing, and at times it's hard to conjure up the not-so-good of the not-so-distant past. And on a personal note, it's one of the reasons I like writing books like Switchback so much.