If you’re a fan of Instagram or have a Facebook account, you’re probably familiar with Throwback Thursday. Or “Hashtag TBT” as the social media savvy like to refer to it. #TBT is a fun little activity in which you share a photo from your past. There are no strict guidelines or rules to what you can or cannot post, but a photo of the grilled cheese sandwich you had for lunch last week probably won’t go over as well as a picture of you taking your first steps or sporting a tacky polyester shirt with a butterfly collar. The photo should be at least 5 years old. If you’re going to throw back, then throw back. Dig it?
(See what I did there? I “threw back” my language. Far out, man).
I’ll admit, I am a fan of #TBT. Fortunately, my mom took a lot of pictures of my brother and I growing up, so I’ve got plenty of source material to work with. There’s even a photo or two featuring a tacky polyester shirt with a butterfly collar. Somewhere, I’m sure there’s a picture of me going through my Sonny Crockett phase, complete with white pants, though I haven’t yet dug that one up yet. I know where to look for it. It’s just that, I’m afraid to do so.
Seeing old photographs often opens up the floodgates of nostalgia. Like today’s, for instance. Here’s what I shared:
This photo was taken in Ohio, and I’m guessing I was around 10 here, which would make the year 1979. I have mentioned before how Ohio was my favorite place to live while growing up; longtime readers will recall how this fondness for the Buckeye State inspired a solo road trip that culminated in me standing on the front porch of my childhood home in Dayton 30+ years after moving away. It should be little wonder, then, that this photo unleashed a torrent of nostalgia on my part. Seriously, it was raining happy childhood memories like cats and dogs for awhile there, folks. Just the other day, while watching Welcome Back, Kotter – seriously – I told Tara, “I was 7 years old when this episode first aired. God, I miss the ’70s!” I had to then ignore her snickering, because she wasn’t even born when the episode first hit the airwaves, but whatever. The point is, I do miss these Kodachrome moments! The world was simpler then, in so many ways.
When we moved to Ohio in 1977, we took advantage of the many forested state parks by taking up camping. We started out with tents – I’m sure my parents were testing the waters, making sure we wouldn’t run screaming from chipmunks or complain about a little ash on our hamburgers, in other words, seeing if camping was something we’d actually like first – before investing in this groovy pop-up camper. Fortunately we loved camping. And why wouldn’t we? There were woods to hike in, lakes to swim in, and streams to fish in. Food tastes better when cooked (and eaten) outside, and the nightly campfire ritual was a great way to unwind after a long day filled with adventure. I was completely in awe of nature, even (especially) the raccoons that inevitably raided our campsite after dusk. Plus, S’mores. Hello!
This pop-up camper made the whole experience even better.
For starters, it felt like we were hardcore now. Tents? Puh-leeze. People who slept in those were amateurs! Our camper screamed “we’re serious about this, bitches!” It had dual sleeping areas – my parents on one side, my brother and I on the other – and included a stove, a sink, and a table. It kept us warmer and drier, protected us from mosquitoes, and was a hell of a lot more comfortable than the sometimes-rocky ground we’d been subjected to before buying the camper. I remember my mom seasoning chicken, wrapping it in aluminum foil, and cooking it over the propane stove. You know what? It was the best chicken I’ve ever had.
Sadly, because my dad was in the Air Force, life was fleeting back then. In 1980, he received new orders: we were going back to Hawaii. With thousands of miles and an ocean between Dayton and Honolulu, my parents decided our best bet was to sell the camper, a move that damn near broke my heart. Sadly, we never again went camping as a family. Occasionally we’d rent a cabin near the beach, but as idyllic as that sounds, those cockroach-infested retreats didn’t come close to matching the experience of camping in a bitchin’ pop-up trailer in the middle of the countryside.
And that, my friends, is a crying shame.