The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Then and now

 


I am at an age where the present is elusive.

You know what I mean. While I know the name, I have never watched Tina Fey on the small screen. Instead, I just assume Fey and her modern sitcom colleagues will never measure up to the greats—meaning Col. Hogan, Dr. Johnny Fever, Fonzie, Rob Petrie and the like. When someone praises Bruno Mars, I counter with a lengthy dialogue covering the discography of Zeppelin, the Sex Pistols, the Rolling Stones and Springsteen … although, I’ll have to admit that I’ve never actually heard the current star. I can hardly wait for Ron Howard’s new film, “Rush,” hoping to revel in the good old days of auto racing. Odierno? Let’s talk about Patton instead.

Yep, the “remember when” stage—and I could go on, asking embarrassingly naïve questions about Candy Crush or Ryan Seacrest.

Perhaps the transition is inevitable. The evolutionary process generally ensured that the younger generations forged ahead, adapting to new situations and technologies. At least I know how to text, post, skim the news feed and organize a whole home DVR while away from home. Some proudly refuse to bend to the whims of Android or DirecTV.

Now, I must admit to using column space during the dot.com bubble days to warn eager techies that eyeballs did not translate into dollars, that the “new economy” did not enable global trade. As I pointed out at the time, gold, frankincense and myrrh were not indigenous to Bethlehem. The marker alongside Ft. Sidney Rd. near the site where native graves from 2,500 BCE points out that Oxbow people traded for goods almost coast to coast, long before the invention of Amazon.com.

Some perspective allows one to see that the young also place extraordinary value on their own depth and grasp.

Despite my age-appropriate lagging, I have a great appreciation for the new world created by mobile technology. On Monday, a breaking news item on television told the story of a moose wandering through some Denver area suburb. This triggered a flicker from the 1960s, when Woody Allen worked the stand-up circuit and performed a rather memorable skit about moose hunting. Within seconds I found a black and white recording of Allen’s drawn out moose joke—something that defies description in print but still causes involuntary laughter after all these decades. That song by T. Rex I may or may not have tormented my mom by cranking on the record player is readily available, too.

In fact, the wealth of nostalgia loaded into YouTube or other sites is more impressive than the long lost library at Alexandria, where ancients once deposited every scrap of printed material they could find (much of it was destroyed by fire). I can watch the 1944 documentary “The Memphis Belle” and cringe at the sight of a real B-17 tumbling to earth in the skies over Wilhelmshaven. Likewise I can relive the scene when Venus Flytrap taught a gang member the parts of an atom in a bid to get him back in school—the fodder of sitcom feel good moments. Favorite Bug Bunny cartoons reside in technology. So does the “First Family Rides Again,” an album comically celebrating Ronald Reagan’s first term (the presidential card game skit will stick with you). Need to know the cast of “Alice” or something equally important?

That’s right, this is the greatest era in history to wallow in one’s past. This is the only time since the beginning when an old guy could say “remember when” and then shove the days of yore in a younger face.

Thanks to a host of young developers and entrepreneurs the present may be elusive, but my past remains alive.

 

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