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Life’s a Beach By Shelley Murphy

By Shelley Murphy

In a year when change is the only certainty, it’s comforting to pause and ponder on the past, rather than fret about the future.

Nostalgia is a sentimental yearning for the good old days, and it’s also medicine for the mind.

A couple months into the pandemic, a friend of mine converted her dining room into a craft corner. She rummaged through her home, finding forgotten photos, and she used them to create a slew of themed scrapbooks.

She treasures the time-consuming task and says when she’s lost in her memories, she feels calm.

My girlfriend suggested I try scrapbooking, despite knowing I’m not an enthusiast of what I prefer to call arts & craps.

Instead of mining photos for mementos, I took time to reminisce and stroll down memory lane.

Growing up in the 1970s doesn’t seem so long ago—until I do the math.

How is it possible my chunky silver platform shoes and feathered Farrah Fawcett hairstyle happened almost a half-century ago?

According to the internet, I, along with more than 65 million Americans, am a member of Generation X. Our generation is the last to live in a time before technology became the norm.

We kept up with pop culture by subscribing to the magazine Tiger Beat, not the Netflix show Tiger King. A gigantic difference between Gen X and today’s generation is technology’s impact on communication.

Back in the day, my family of four shared a singular phone, which my dad mounted to a kitchen wall. Believe it or not, most households survived with only one phone, and its cord could stretch, but only so far.

The hub of our house offered zero privacy, so my conversations were concise and sometimes spoken in code.

My childhood home housed more televisions than telephones, likely an attempt by my parents to squash sibling squabbles.

We had many televisions but limited channels and content. We relied on three or four channels for programs, not hundreds of networks.

Television shows aired in a scheduled timeslot, and tuning in to the original broadcast was the only viewing option. In hindsight, the 1970s defined appointment TV.

Missing The Brady Bunch episode when Jan shouted the iconic words, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” meant waiting for the rerun, or rebroadcast, of the show later in the year.

The closest my generation came to reality TV was the genre known as variety shows. In the early ’70s, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour debuted and became an immediate hit.

The prime-time show starred the married pop singers in playful bantering and performing popular songs and comedy skits.

Today’s generation listens to songs on satellite radio, but back in the ’70s, AM radio was king.

If my allowance couldn’t buy a vinyl album or 45 rpm single, then the radio afforded the only opportunity to hear my favorite singers.

Sunday mornings, I tuned in to the radio countdown program American Top 40. It premiered in 1970 with host Casey Kasem at the helm; the three-hour broadcast revealed the top singles of the week.

Remember Casey Kasem’s “Long Distance Dedication”? Listeners wrote letters (not emails) to Kasem requesting a sappy song dedication. The letters were often penned by the casualty of a recent heartbreak.

I’d tune my AM radio to station 93/KHJ and wait for my favorite songs to play. I positioned my portable cassette recorder near the speaker and poised my fingers over the record button to capture my best-liked ballads.

I repeated this exercise every week, but seldom pressed the button in time to record the entire song.

My walk down memory lane renders a smile, but it also makes me melancholy for the current generation. How will they remember this year of social, political, and economic turmoil?

If you’re pining for the past and feeling nostalgic, you’re not alone.

The next time a sentimental memory pops to mind, reminisce and relish the moment—and enjoy an escape from the madness that is 2020.

For more than 20 years, Shelley Murphy and her husband have lived in San Clemente, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to the San Clemente Times and Dana Point Times since 2006.

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