Happy Martin Luther King Day! He had a dream. What’s yours? As you think about that, I’ll move on.

Lately, characters from past television series have been making the news because of their return to the silver screen. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart, below). Lizzie McGuire. The cast of Saved by the Bell and Full House. Not to mention MacGuyver, in a show rebooted awhile ago. I’m just waiting for an announcement about a Columbo reboot, though I can’t imagine the show without the late, great Peter Falk.

Nostalgia has been the catalyst for the return of many film franchises, shows, toys, and candy. This is probably why you can see so many old favorites from the past (toys, candy, TV shows on DVD) at the gift shops of restaurants like Cracker Barrel or specialty shops.

As I read Shari Swanson’s picture book, Honey, the Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins), which we discuss here, I felt a sense of nostalgia watching young Abe exploring the woods near his home. He had a lot more freedom than most kids his age do nowadays. So did I. When I was eight (a year older than Abe is in the story) and was given my first bike, I would tell Mom, “I’m off,” and would be gone for hours, riding around the neighborhood. Even with T-Rexes still roaming the earth back then (totally dating myself), I had the freedom to go off with just a friend who was my age.


Lest you think, What awful parents, this was the norm back then. Starting in kindergarten, my best friend and I walked to school without hovering parents. And I lived in a neighborhood in Chicago!

My parents had taught my brothers and me to always look both ways while crossing the street, as well as teaching us “Stranger Danger” stuff, like never talk to strangers or accept anything from them. Even with all of that freedom, I survived childhood. (Spoiler alert in case you wondered.)

Nowadays parents would probably be arrested for the amount of freedom my parents and Abe’s parents allowed kids. Sadly, we live in a world where many parents have to go the extra mile to keep their children safe. I hardly ever see kids out by themselves, with the exception of my neighbors’ kids. But I know their parents are just a shout away.

So I’m nostalgic for the times when I was free to roam without fear. If I had a dream, in the vein of Martin Luther King, Jr., my dream would be for a world in which children could do the same.

The winner of Honey, the Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln is Lyn!

Lyn, please comment below to confirm. Thank you to all who commented on the interview post.

What makes you feel nostalgic?

Patrick Stewart photo from The Daily Telegraph. Dream image from Martin Luther King, Jr. image from Candy from

30 thoughts on “Nostalgia

  1. I’m with you on that one – we too were left to our own devices at an early age and wonderful it was too! I’m glad I’m neither a child or a parent these days – everything is so regimented and controlled. When do they get to imagine and make up their own fantasy worlds with their friends? And how do they learn self-reliance? I’m not convinced the world is more dangerous – I think we’re just more scared. Too much access to news stories…

    • So true, FictionFan. Today we have so much access to real-life horror stories, which cause fear and tension. My parents never sugarcoated anything. They didn’t say, “Everything will be fine. As you roam, you’ll never have problems.” There were bullies, skinned knees, flat tires, thieves, etc. But we will had the freedom to roam despite all of those obstacles. I’m grateful for that. I’m especially grateful for time to do what you mentioned: make up fantasy worlds face-to-face with friends (rather than through a text).

  2. We were fortunate to grow up when we did, L. Marie. Access to iPhones, iPads, etc. have changed things for children and not in a positive way. Christmas music always makes me nostalgic. I’m laughing at the candy. I always have Gobstoppers at my desk!

    • We were, Jill! I wouldn’t have made it through high school had social media been in the picture. 😖

      Ah Gobstoppers are the best, aren’t they? I get nostalgic every time I watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factor. Remember penny candy? Fifty cents could go so far! 😀

  3. Very little makes me feel nostalgic. Maybe lemon meringue pie because my mother made a darned good one for holiday dinners and the flavor of it takes me back. I know that I grew up in a time when kids were freer, but it doesn’t make me feel much of anything today. It just was. Maybe I have a defective nostalgia switch…

    • I know what you mean, Ally. There are some aspects of the past that I never want to revisit. And sometimes looking back at the past (“the good old days”) is a trap because it keeps a person from moving forward. But I can’t help thinking of how free I was to roam about in the city. I saw some ugly things, yes. But I’m grateful for how I learned my way around the city. My dad always said, “You’ll get lost. But don’t worry. The lake is always east.” And I did get lost. But he was right. The lake was east. 😉

      My mom also made lemon meringue pie. I didn’t appreciate it as much then, because I wanted less meringue and more of the lemon filling. But now it is a great pie. 😀

  4. I’ve been wondering why we don’t let kids roam like the old days. I used to do it, but I have trouble letting my son go off too far. I think the world feels more dangerous. We’re bombarded by news of kidnappings, murders, and disaster that feel like they’re at the local level. People are quick to judge and build up an Internet mob to condemn you. For me personally, a factor is how people now drive down my block going insanely fast with no attempts to slow down if kids are around. When I was my son’s age, drivers would give us time to clear the street of our stuff. Now, you have to kiss that street hockey net goodbye.

    • I think you’re right, Charles. The world feels more dangerous. Back when I was a kid, the internet didn’t exist. So we weren’t constantly bombarded with stories about what could happen or has happened. So the fear climate wasn’t as pervasive.

      There were things we did as kids that would make many parents gasp (like grabbing on to a moving truck while on skates to be pulled down the street; zooming downhill on bikes toward busy streets). While I’m not advocating some of those, we had freedom. And I miss the street hockey days. (Though I have seen kids on rollerblades on my street. I live on a cul de sac, so it’s a little safer.)

      • Internet is a huge factor. Something I just thought of is how social media makes us feel more comfortable talking with total strangers. It’s a safe way to do it, but then we realize that our kids might bring that mentality into the real world. It feels more likely that a child will enter a stranger’s house or go along with the promise of candy than when we were kids. Part of it is because we, as adults, kind of do that on Internet forums.

      • Yes, I’ve heard stories of predatory adults posing as kids in kids-only social media and trying to lure them that way. And sadly I know firsthand someone whose child experienced that. What an added burden for parents–having to teach their children public safety and internet safety. Sigh. 😞

  5. I’m intrigued by the photos you included in “Nostalgia.” I can relate to most of them and, like you, I revere the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King. How bold and brave he was!

    What makes me feel nostalgic? The fragrance of hyacinths (a gift from my son last week) which takes me back to childhood, often a staple theme in my blog, as you know.

    • Yes. Another reason to love your blog, Marian. 😀 I get nostalgic whenever someone mentions Four o’clocks. We used to have them growing on side of our house. And we had a lilac bush out back. There is a lilac bush right outside of my living room window. A reminder of childhood. 😀

  6. Finally starting to catch up on posts and this one hit my own nostalgia button.We were also free to roam the neighborhood, but, needed to be around 12 to cross the bridge across 290 (then called the Congress/Eisenhower expressway), as half of our friends lived on the other side. If we misbehaved, we were spoken to by adults in the neighborhood and word always got back to our parents. We felt safe. We had to be home when the streetlights came on. Sigh

    • Same with me, Penny. I couldn’t go to a different neighborhood, but I could stay around my own, which was a decent size. When I was older, I could bike to the library, which was in a different neighborhood. I also had to deal with adults who would scold me, because my parents gave them permission to do so. 😉

  7. Thank you! I’m so excited to win this book for my daughter’s first grade classroom. And that’s a good idea for a lesson plan—the freedom to roam that kids had back then. Was it a good thing? After all, young Abe had to be rescued by a plucky pooch.

    As for your question: Saturday morning cartoons and watching them with my brother. As a junior in high school, I went on an honors trip to Washington DC, and on Saturday morning, a bunch of us students found a TV in a hotel lounge and put on the cartoons. The teacher-chaperones has a good laugh when we refused to leave until the cartoons ended.

  8. Although I grew up among dinosaurs too (😁), my mom kept me on a short-ish leash. I remember feeling resentful that my brother (3 years older) always had more freedom than me. It was my mom’s own fears of “what might happen” and she didn’t understand how sheltering me would eventually lead me to leaving home, across the country to another state. That said, I still had the outdoors and could walk along the old canals and to the library and post office. That’s the nostalgia I like to revisit 🙂

  9. I don’t know exactly how to define nostalgia. If it means “a wistful desire to return to a former time in one’s life”, then I’ve always been content with where I am. But if it means a wistful affection for the past, then I can think of many different times. I also had a free and happy childhood. We rode our bikes down to the river (and it was a big and dangerous river, the Skagit River.) I liked to read and draw and play with paper dolls, so my mom was often telling me, “Go out and play.” And when she said, “Go out …”, she didn’t mean in the back yard. She meant: Go find some neighbor kids and play anywhere in the neighborhood. We got into the old man’s garage, climbed up into the loft, and made a clubhouse. We made another clubhouse in an abandoned outhouse in the field behind old Mrs. Torry’s house. I started walking the mile to school alone in first grade, over the railroad tracks and through the town. Sometimes I found an apple and fed the horse in the field by the feed and seed store. It’s fun to remember all those things.

    • What lovely remembrances! 😀 My brother and his friends built a clubhouse that my friends and I sometimes used. My father had given them wood for the build.

      My mother also said, “Go outside.” We were probably outside more than we were inside. And I loved to read and cutout paper dolls too. 😀

  10. The world, no, life has become overwhelming. I think that’s the problem. I’m nostalgic for a simpler life, without internet, SmartPhones, and social media. Yes, I am fortunate to have grown up in another generation as well, roaming the neighborhood without worries.

    Yet, I do admit these technological inventions have made life simpler in other ways. All that being said, I do my best to still enjoy freedom, not get caught up in a stressful world, and keep my life basic by living on the road without watching TV or owning a phone. 🙂

  11. I had great fun growing up in a neighborhood full of kids. Life was free and fun especially in the summer. Maybe that’s why I moved to Florida . . . for a few more months of summer each year.

    • Ah, the summer! I also grew up in a neighborhood with lots of kids. There were always a ton of kids around. Back then people let dogs roam around, so there were dogs everywhere too. 😀

  12. “So I’m nostalgic for the times when I was free to roam without fear. If I had a dream, in the vein of Martin Luther King, Jr., my dream would be for a world in which children could do the same.”

    Amen and amen…so much spoken in that sentiment, L. Marie.

  13. Excellent post. Kids need to figure things out on their own. Resilience, persistence, and confidence come from being left alone, and doing it on your own.

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