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Phil Rizzo: Nostalgia makes you feel good

Full Speed to Port

Posted: February 23, 2010 9:41 p.m.
Updated: February 24, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Don’t read this unless you’re over 50 years old.  

My wife Suzie and I wax nostalgic listening to the distant train whistles in the silent evening.

That sound generates the same good feeling that occurs when I’m in a public or personal library — especially if the books are old and just a little tattered.

The feeling must be experienced by others, as I notice well-used books on shelves, leaning on each other and enhancing the warmth of various settings such as restaurants and coffee shops.

It seems to me that part of the warm feeling comes from honoring something that’s hung with us a very long time and still makes us feel good.

There are other things that come to mind in my nostalgia book.

Like the hard, drumming drops of a rain chasing each other down the slanted roof; like Christmas cards with snowy pictures; railroad tracks running into the distance; men’s short-billed caps that we used to tip to others — usually to women we passed on the street — in silent salute. We called them “Howdy do” caps. I own several of them.

Most things made of wood, especially if the grain stands out, feed a natural look my wife and I enjoy a lot.

Knotty pine was a favorite years ago. Big 4-by-8-foot sheets covered boring walls, especially in basement recreation rooms that Californians rarely see.

The roar of a propeller-driven airplane will turn my head every time. Maybe it’s because I was born the year Lindbergh soloed nonstop from New York to Paris on May 5, 1927.

It seems there are not that many examples of that old stuff that makes you feel good that comes to mind. Maybe being in short supply is what makes things stand out in the memory bank.

Frankly, I’m glad that we have things such as modern indoor plumbing.

Yes, even the portable outdoor toilets that have rescued many are way better than the one- or two-hole non-flushers out in the farm yard that served humanity for many years. Thoughts of them may make someone feel good in a funny way.

The good stuff that’s gone is legion. I’d give at least a nickel to see a caboose once in awhile, instead of one engine pulling and another pushing a stream of cars.

The double-engined train must be in a special hurry. It feels like this may be a metaphor for where we’re headed now. We may be on the digital road to nowhere.

I don’t know what happened to the train cars that used to parallel a section of San Fernando Road.

I’m not sure it’s even San Fernando Road, Bouquet Canyon Road — or maybe it’s really Newhall Avenue now. As Lao Tzu said, everything is endless change.

We saw a program on PBS recently about how we are being affected by the digital age. What will today’s young people remember 50 years from now that’s impacting their lives now?

In South Korea they’re sending kids to digital rehab for electronic game-playing addiction. The remembrance of digital rehab should lift a few hearts in 2060.

Fifty years from now, retrospect may produce good feelings from things that may not yet exist.

The clicking of computer keyboards will be novelty — if there are any of them left.

So we’ll get our nostalgia kicks in unknown ways from unknown things of tomorrow. But maybe we’ll be lucky and still have train whistles emanating from the quiet night.

Phil Rizzo is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesday in The Signal.


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