Uncle Ron, was my husband’s only uncle.  Brad’s earliest recollection of Uncle Ron was when he was a little older than a toddler and he and his parents went up to see him at Wurtsmith Air Force Base up in Oscoda, Michigan. Uncle Ron was a pilot in the United States Air force.  He remembers seeing the plane and Uncle Ron carrying him up into the cockpit.  Ron went on to Vietnam where he flew the F4s.  When Brad was  dental school at U of M, Uncle Ron was in Michigan visiting and he met up for dinner and drinks at Good Time Charlie’s on South U.  After a few cold ones that July he told my husband how depressing it was to go back to base after a mission only to find out that one of his  buddies didn’t make it back.  When the war was over, Ron took a job with Caesar’s Palace as a pilot for Led Zeppelin’s tour.  He flew the band all over. There were many interesting stories we heard over the years, but the best one was that on a flight from New York to Los Angeles the guys were craving McDonald’s.  The cockpits door was open, it was a very casual environment on those flights and Uncle Ron became friends with the guys he was flying around.  “Hey Ron, can we make a stop for lunch?”  They were almost over Nebraska.  He radioed somewhere, I’m guessing a small airport close by, they made a quick touchdown and there was a car waiting on the tarmac.  They stopped, their very large order was brought on board, paid for and in a short period of time, the Caesars plane was back in the air and the boys in the band were enjoying their Big Mac, fries and Cokes.  Ron delivered top shelf service to his passengers and they became friends.  As difficult as the time in Vietnam was, the contrast of those years flying with Led Zeppelin were night and day.  It’s hard to imagine a story like that being played out today.  Flight plans are made in advance to touch down at a local airport for a superfluous, non- emergency stop most likely would not happen without making Yahoo News.  You might have called that stop, the early stages of Uber Eats, Door Dash or Grub Hub. 

Things were different then.  Maybe for the good, maybe not but it was a different time back in the seventies and eighties.  There were no phones with camera and video recording capability to record everything. No doubt a cell phone with that capability can be a good thing, a safety feature and a way to record something necessary for documentation purposes.  There is something to be said about simpler times though. 

     This past week we spent time with our daughter and her family and that topic came up as we recalled the movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” John Hughes directed the comedy of teenage life in the eighties.  He directed many other movies from that time period.  Not only did my generation watch that movie over and over, but our children were introduced to it as well. Our kids would probably tell you it was one of their favorite movies during their teenage years and they would watch it over and over with friends. Recalling all of that, Sasha’s comment was, “I don’t think our kids will ever understand the capacity of that movie because they won’t have lived a time where that sort of nonsense was possible to pull off.”  And she’s right.  This generation of preschoolers and toddlers will never have known a time before cellphones, selfies and Instagram.

     Sometimes a conversation stirs up a memory or time period and it stays with you for a while and gets you reminiscing of times gone by and it did.  Often, as we get older, or at least myself, we observe the changing times and we long for those simpler days.  Capturing those times can be easy in a memory, looking at old photos or doing things like going back to those places where those events took place, like a favorite vacation spot or restaurant, if they still do things like they used to, like let’s say a place like Frankenmuth, the little German community north of Flint Michigan, south of Saginaw that looks just like it did fifty years ago and serves the same menu.  Experiencing those places like we did as a child makes one think of simpler times.  If only it was that easy.  For a meal or an afternoon we can go back and imagine somethings. So many experiences we cannot and those days, those experiences and some of the people we experienced those with are gone.  It’s sad to think of but they are part of a time gone by, never to be experienced again…

     We were sitting in church on Sunday,  and as  I flipped through the bulletin, before the start of the service, I noticed that after the first portion of the service, including the scripture reading, the choir and some instrumental musicians, a few members who were part of the local orchestra would be performing REQUIEM by John.  A REQUIEM is part of the  Catholic Mass for the repose of the soul of the dead as an act of remembrance. It comes from the Latin word for rest, requiem.  You may have heard requiems from famous composers like Mozart, Verdi, Brahms among others.  The typical Requiem has a rather somber sound to it.  The Requiem is divided usually eight movements.  It starts somber with a dark tone to it.  Through out there may be some brighter moments as certain memories are stirred.  There may be a hopeful sound at some portion for the resurrection to a life after this life, but all in all, it is dirge to signify the end of life here on earth.

     Putting those two thought together this week, the loss of simpler times gone by and the Requiem heard in the Sunday service, memories of times gone by flashed through my mind and how many great memories were played out…

     Such as the crazy Ferris Bueller.  His ability to concoct a story to get out of school and get his girlfriend out to enjoy a day of “tom foolery” with he and his best friend, including a joy ride in his friend’s  father’s red sports car and a day in Chicago and who would forget that Beetles song that was given new life, “Twist and Shout”?   There were a whole catalogue of John Hughes movies that told stories of those innocent times.  In thinking of those very entertaining movies with such memorable characters it’s hard to imagine movies made like those today with such substance and minus the sex, violence and language so very present in films today.  At least they are there in film/video for future generations to enjoy however, like my daughter mentioned, they won’t understand the times that made many of those stories possible.

     Thinking of entertainment, remember the outstanding television programs of the seventies and eighties that were entertaining for an entire family to sit down to? The Tuesday night lineup on ABC with Happy Days Lavern and Shirley.  What comedy and humor and again, the characters and storylines that kept audiences coming back for more.  Think the CBS successes of Mary Tyler Moore, with shows that spun off like Rhoda and Phyllis and later, Lou Grant.  I could go on and on, on the topic of must see TV, like Magum PI, The Rookies, SWAT, Colombo, Quincy, The Odd Couple, Brady Bunch, Partridge Family just to name a few. Shows like Dallas, and Dynasty were not only popular in the US but I remember traveling in Europe in the mid-eighties and a woman on a train in France, asked me if people in American really lived like “DYNESTY”? (That’s how she pronounced it).  Remember the variety shows like Sonny and Cher, Carol Burnett, Donny and Marie, and the Andy Williams Show.  Families sat down together to watch good quality entertainment. Even the late night shows were something to stay up for. Johnny Carson was funny and smart.  It was a time where Archie Bunker could exist.  Most likely a show like Norman Lear’s All in the Family would never make it to television and if it did, it would be cancelled. Shows like Saturday Night Live made fun of all politicians rather than selecting one to be the butt of jokes.  Any and all celebrities were fair game for good humor. Humor wasn’t offensive back then. A joke was a joke and people didn’t get ‘butt hurt’ over being laughed at. It wasn’t mean humor either. It was the type of humor where everyone left laughing, even the people being parodied.  Entertainment was just that, ENTERTAINMENT.  It was not a political statement and actors and entertainers didn’t get political. They kept their thoughts in this area to themselves.  Those who did, made fools of themselves and lost fans for the most part.

      Remember the Proms and other social events of those times?  The Prom dresses that didn’t expose too much, the respectable way people presented themselves. The dress codes at some places that elevated the quality of an experience made going out to dinner or having an evening out a special  occasion even if it wasn’t.  

     The music of those times gone by is still enjoyed today.  Consider the popularity of Seventies and Eighties channels on Satellite Radio or on any music platform.  In my opinion, the music of those times is some of the best. Musician of those times were in many instances well trained. Consider Eric Carmen, who was mentioned a couple of weeks ago in a blog post.  He was a classical trained pianist and it is evident in many of his songs.  Look at Billy Joel’s piano background, Pat Benatar  trained as an opera singer.  Songs back then had a verse, chorus and verse. The language was clean and simple and songs told stories of love lost and all of the other stories of life. The songs were simple and had less synthesizing.  It really wasn’t until Boston, STYX or ELO that such qualities were added to music.  However, even those electric sounding songs  the verse, chorus verse were present, clear vocals and thought out clean lyrics…

     We cannot bring those times back.  Like Uncle Ron, they are no longer with us.  Remember, the movie staring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour, filmed on Mackinac Island, “Somewhere in Time”?  Do you recall the scene where he tries to go back and panics at the thought of not being able to go back?  Sometime, it feels like that when we see how much the world has changed. Like mentioned above in the opening, some for better, some for worse, but we cannot go back.  

     What we can do though, to make those memories of ours, “MORE THAN A FEELING,” (thinking the song by Boston from back then) is to re-live them with those you experienced them with,  if you can.  Consider a night with your friends from that time with the music of the time playing, a nice dinner around a table, brought in or prepared by you and your company.  What about burgers and hot dogs on the the grill with a cold one reminiscing of those times gone by laughing about the funny things you did, maybe pulling out some photos when you had the cute prom dress or the guys  in the leisure suites?   Or a movie night of John Hughes movies to look forward to on Friday nights in the winter with pizza ordered in with your kids or good friends.  Looking at those memories of times gone by more of a “Celebration of Life” rather than a Requiem, may make for some…Great Days ❤️ 

Author, Mary Yana Burau