Last weekend we went down to Hartford to visit Megan’s family for a day, and Uncle Pete, now in his 80s and recovering from gall-bladder surgery, sat and talked with us a while about the old days. He met my father-in-law’s oldest sister when he was just back from the war in Korea. He was 21 or 22, working at a gas station, and she was 7 years younger, skipping high school to smoke cigarettes. When he met her parents, they were thrilled, because he had a job and wasn’t a drunk. They were married after her high school graduation, and he supported the family on wages from Gerber Scientific and so on.
Several times during the conversation, Pete shook his head and told my father-in-law “them days is gone, Mickey.” (Nobody else calls him Mickey.) Days when a fifteen-year-old girl could bring home a twenty-two-year-old boyfriend to meet the approval of her parents. Days when a man with a high school education and a bronze star could support a family on a single working-class wage. Days when Hartford was a manufacturing center and not just America’s filing cabinet.
Pete’s nostalgic, but he’s not trying to bring it back. Them days, he knows, is gone, and although we lost some good things it was mostly an upgrade.
And that’s why it annoys me to see much younger people like Mike Pecci so convinced that the good old days can be saved. Them days is gone, Mickey. Boston’s not a gritty scene anymore, Allston’s not a good place for underground punk shows, and you can’t make beer money printing zines.
Complaining about how things aren’t what they used to be is a grand tradition of course. In Boston it goes back at least as far as Ben Franklin complaining that pubs weren’t as cool as when he and the boys were plotting the revolution at the Green Dragon or the Bell-In-Hand. 0
But you can’t stop time. Places change and grow or fossilize and die.
Them days is gone, Mickey. Live in these days.