Those were the days

Ah, yes. We all say it every so often when we want to reflect on the good times. “The Good Old Days.” “I wish it were the good old days!” “Why can’t we go back to the good old days?” But just what were the good old days? For some, it may be the 1940s and 1950s. For others, it may be the 1960s and 1970s and still, for others, it may be (gulp) the 1980s and 1990s.

I’m a product of the 60s and 70s, so for me, those were my good old days. It was the time we’d play football every Sunday afternoon until dark at Greeley Park, then head over to my buddy’s house where his mom would cook a spaghetti dinner big enough to feed the 5th Army. We’d watch every conceivable sporting event imaginable on TV and play basketball on a homemade backboard, in-the-midst of a not too travelled street … in the dead of winter … with snow flying … and gloves on. Yup, we were a bit off-kilter back then. Later in the decade, I met the love of my life, got married and finally settled down. But I’m told I still act like a kid. I take that as a compliment.

I can remember walking to school (I lived too close to be bus worthy, but it was still a good hike) to Temple Street, Spring Street and finally to Elm Street (which was then Nashua High School) to attend classes. I can remember doing that walk on winter days when snow would be falling at a pretty good clip, or the temperature would dip close to zero. Not to sound like everyone’s grandfather who boasted of walking five miles to school in a tornado or a blizzard, but back then, it was a rare occasion when school would be canceled due to weather. It seems like today, classes are canceled before a flake hits the ground. Perhaps, it’s the result of that meteorological anomaly known as the blizzard of ’78, when many of us were holed up in our homes for a week, some with little food and no power. The state of Massachusetts literally closed. That was long before Doppler Radar and the ability to predict the hour when snow will start and stop. But I can remember waking up in the morning and hoping to hear the sound every Nashua youngster longed to hear in the winter. The Boodang! Yup. The Boodang was what we all affectionately called that loud honking fire horn on top of Central Fire Station that was used to signal a multiple alarm fire in the city. The number of honks was tied to fire call boxes located throughout town. For those unfamiliar, the sound somewhat resembled a donkey in heat at a bazillion decibels. The count we wanted to hear was 5-5-5. That meant no school!

The good old days. Some back then may say it’s a matter of opinion. Every evening news cast reported on a nasty war in Southeast Asia, using body counts to imply who was “winning.” We saw gas rationing with lines 20 cars long to purchase $2 worth of gas, while inflation rates and interest rates were in double digits. A president was assassinated, a president resigned, and an arms race was burgeoning.

But during that time, America also celebrated one of the greatest technological achievements in history by landing a man on the moon. We listened to music that was considered “noise” or “racket” by our parents. The sounds of Cream, The Byrds, Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers and the greatest music producing machine in history, the Beatles, graced the airwaves. There were songs about a cake melting in the rain (sung by the man who would eventually be known as Dumbledore), another about floating eight miles high (which had nothing to do with an aircraft) and yet another about purple haze (having nothing to do with the weather). There was even one titled, “Those Were the Days.”

When we think of the good old days, we sometimes tend to gloss over the negative things that happened, and typically focus on those times with family and friends and things that are planted in our minds that we prefer to remember. It’s natural.

Today’s generation will one day think back on our current era as the good old days. I can see it now, “Honey, remember back when we actually had to ask Alexa to order our pizza rather than her just reading that microchip in our brain and having it at our door when we were hungry?”

Don Canney is a freelance writer and professional voice artist with over 30 years experience in manufacturing, wuality and customer relations.

He was born and raised in downtown Nashua with great interest in Nashua history circa 1950-1970. He now resides in Litchfield.