“Half memoir, half travel, A Yank Back to England...is an absolutely wonderful book, not only about going home again but also about love and family and tradition and the passage of the years.”
—Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic (Washington
To see the entire quote, click here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

All children think their parents are old, but mine always were, exceptionally so. Obviously, they weren’t born old, but they were old when I was born. By the time I became conscious of age and generational differences, they were already in their fifties. That’s the way it was, only the future was always approached with a glance to past horizons that, despite hardship and deprivations, always glowed with the warmth of familiarity.
Because of my parents’ age, I missed several generations of popular culture: Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Anthony Eden, Ban the Bomb, Big Bands. Beatniks. My parents missed them, too. My points of reference were Fred Astaire, the Gershwins, Bette Davis, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby. Not a problem unless I ran into a parent of one of my school friends or a friend would meet my parents. That was always a shock for everyone. When my parents dressed up to go out for the evening, they always looked like Nick and Nora or any movie couple from the thirties. Mum wore lots of rabbit fur and hats with feathers and smelled of talc, and Lew always wore double-breasted suits with baggy trousers. He was always clean shaved, always had a short back and sides hair cut brilliantined like Ramon Navarro – whoever he was.


Jersey Girl said...

smile. Happy Birthday to your Dad! My parents were both 30 when I was born but I always associate them with the 40's and I too grew up loving Cole Porter, Gerswins, Fred Astaire, etc. for that reason. My favorite Christmas Album is Big Band Christmas because it has the exact version of Jingle Bells that I remember from my childhood. The difference for me is I remember them young and seeing them old was tough. My Dad's gone now but Mom is still with us and I frequently have a tough time assimilating her younger self with her older self.

parTea lady said...

Hope your Dad had a great birthday.

I guess my kids feel that way about me. My first was born when I was nearly 33 and the last at almost forty. Some of their friends Mom's are as much as fifteen years younger. My parents did the opposite and Mom was only 17 when I was born.

Your parents era sounds good to me. ;-) I loved the "Nick and Nora" reference to their appearance.

Culturally Discombobulated said...

Not sure I'd class Anthony Eden as popular culture.

I can relate a wee bit. My parent were in their mid-40s when they had me and I come from a town where teenage pregnancy is rife so they often had 30 years on the parents of some of my classmates. In fact, I remember my first day at secondary school and going to a history class. As the history teacher went through the register, with each person she'd make a comment about having taught that person's older sibling or one of their parent's. Then she got to me, last on the register. "Oh, now your dad taught me when I was a little girl."