Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again And Again

A few years ago, singer Jon Bon Jovi combined voices with Jennifer Nettles, of Sugarland fame, on a song titled, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” where one of the lines in that song reads, “Who says you can’t go back.”

From time to time, we all receive emails on varieties of topics and thoughts. I recently opened one that I’ve received before, but I particularly like this one because it talks of days gone by, when life was less complex, less complicated, less hectic and a lot more creative. I guess after I periodically read this one, I ask myself, “Who says you can’t go back?”

The email spoke of times when an entire family lived in a house with three bedrooms, or less, and included one bathroom, a kitchen, and a living room. It spoke of one dial-type telephone per home, maybe on a party line, and usually mounted on the kitchen wall, not needing an answering machine because someone was usually home. It spoke of the living room being the family room. There was no need for computer rooms, or game rooms, because everyone usually congregated in either the living room or the kitchen. It spoke of each family having only one black-and-white television, that maybe got three channels tops, many having only “rabbit ears” with which to pick up reception. It spoke of push lawnmowers to do the yard work.

It spoke of simple snacks like potato chips that tasted like potatoes. If you wanted an additional flavor, there was Lipton’s onion dip. Any other snacks came from Mom’s talented hands and her oven, with periodic help from Betty Crocker.

It spoke of weekend family activities, which included church, family dinners, a Sunday outing, maybe a picnic where families packed and carried something called a picnic basket, and they used charcoal grills to cook their hamburgers and hot dogs.

It spoke of a time when each member of the family knew where each other member was, and without cellphones. It spoke of double features at drive-in theatres with a speaker hanging on one of the windows (usually Dad’s), and home-popped salted popcorn packed in double-lined paper grocery bags with butter seeping through both layers, and 12-ounce bottles of Pepsi, Coke or Seven-Up, carried in scotch coolers with chunks of ice to keep them cold. Mom and Dad worked together to open each bottle and pour some into paper cups brought from home.

It spoke of playing sports outdoors, not on TV screens or monitors. It spoke of neighborhood games like “Kick the Can.” It spoke of times when the family doctor was also a family friend and even made house calls, and he didn’t need a lawyer to protect himself from a malpractice suit.

It spoke of going to the store and paying for anything you bought with cash. It spoke of big cash registers, and cashiers who actually had to know how to count and figure out change themselves.

It spoke of milk deliveries, and mail deliveries which didn’t include barrages of store circulars, and junk mail ads, and especially the deluge from credit card companies who beg you to go into debt so they can get rich. It spoke of knowing your mailman’s first name, and for that matter, your plumber’s, your insurance man’s, and the milkman’s names. It spoke of the very small amount of mail addressed to “Resident” or “Occupant.”

It spoke of cars that were easily able to be identified by just glancing at them and not having to wonder what kind of car you just saw. It reminded us of convertibles and streamlined cars with fins and white walls, cars with some style.

It spoke of “stacks of wax,” stackable vinyl records put on record players that would drop down one at a time playing your favorite music of the day, the ones with the big hole in the middle called 45s, and the ones with the smaller hole called albums or 33s (actually 33 and a thirds). (There were also 78s but those weren’t spoken of in the email.)

It spoke of boys putting baseball cards in the spokes of their bicycles (usually with clothes pins), and it spoke of the small bottles of Coke that came out of the tall- or the chest-style machines for a dime, and some even for a nickel.

And it reminded us that today’s world is great with all of its technology and modernness, but it wasn’t so bad in “our” day even without all of today’s stuff.

A few other lyrics in the Bon Jovi/Nettles song are, “Who says you can’t go back, been all around the world and as a matter of fact, there’s only one place left I wanna go, who says you can’t go home?” A great question, I think.

For many of us who have aged (all of us gracefully, I might add), some of the best memories of our lives were ones “back home.” They were simpler times, slower times, smaller times, yet enjoyable times, and most of all, special times, maybe special because there wasn’t so much. One of my most favorite quotes from a movie is “Less is more.” Maybe having less made us create more or appreciate more what we did have.

So, the next time someone tells you that you can’t go back, don’t listen to them. You’re not trying to go back to live in those times, you’re just taking advantage of being able to remember life in those times. Live the lyrics of Jon Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles when they sing, “I’ve lived a million miles of memories on that road.” Make it a million and one.