Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

Posted on January 17, 2024 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with no comments yet

Then and Now

(Source of image unknown)


“Your old road is rapidly agin’,

Please get out of the new one,

If you can’t lend a hand,

For the times they are a-changin’.”

The Times They are A-Changin – Bob Dylan

Most of the time, I hate Facebook. It used to be a place to share messages with friends near and far, but it has turned into a huge dumpster filled with ads, memes and ridiculous “touch the…” to determine your personality. But like sugar and cigarettes, it somehow remains addictive.

Last Sunday while picking my way through the online trash, I saw the cartoon that you’re looking at attached to this post. As a hopeless nostalgic, I couldn’t resist adding my two cents worth. A “penny for my thoughts?”

So, to all of you septuagenarians, I pose the question: Was it more fun being 20 in the 70s or being 70 in the 20s?

For me, this is a slam dunk.

As mentioned in last week’s post, I love being the age I am today. Most (not all!) mistakes have been made and lessons learned, with a modest accrual of wisdom. In the 1970s, most of us were just starting our careers of screwing things up.

But, oh, the fun we had doing it.

Last week, I hitched a ride to Port Hawkesbury to substitute teach. I no longer own a car. Thankfully, I don’t actually have to hitchhike which was one of the great rites of passage 50 years ago. Not many of my 20-year-old friends owned a car. If you wanted to go to Halifax to catch a concert or a sporting event, you just meandered out of town and stuck your thumb in the air. Occasionally on a rainy day, you would get a bath from a motorist. The thumb was then replaced by the middle finger. Just about every university student in my hometown owns a car these days.

My “chauffeur” was a sports and music enthusiast so needless to say, the drive to and from “The Hawk” was a delight. I told him about hopping on the rail liner at the east end of Main Street, heading to the Forum in Montreal to watch my (then) beloved Habs. I regaled him with stories of watching” Le Gros Bill” (Jean Belliveau) feeding a crisp, perfect pass across ice to a streaking “Big M” (Frank Mahovlich). Sitting up for 24 hours, much of it spent in the smoky bar car, was legendary.

On our way home at the end of the day, our discussion turned to music. My friend told me that he and his wife are music lovers, particularly music from the 60s and 70s. For a man in his 40s, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Neil Young, James Taylor… and on and on. He mentioned that he saw Dylan twice in concert and was nonplussed. He also mentioned Pink Floyd. I am aware that vinyl is making a huge comeback. He told me that he and his wife routinely purchase albums at Taz in Halifax. I was curious about the price, having paid the princely sum of $3.14 for Neil Young’s Harvest album at the campus bookstore at St.F.X. in 1972. He told me that most albums are in the $29.95 range with some going as high as $69. I understand inflation. Back in the early 70s, I could fill my VW Beetle for $5.00.

When I lived in Victoria in the early to mid- 70s, I had a terrific stereo system. I also lived in a dive and paid the princely sum of $85 a month rent. You might think that this was a steal, but you never saw “The Bongo Pad”. I think that my sound system cost me more than if I had purchased the ten-unit complex! I was in Victoria in 2023 and that building is still there. It might be the eighth wonder of the world. I could write a book about all the strange characters who lived there.

At the end of a work week, I would walk back from the mill to my apartment, pop a cold one, light a candle and slap “Dark Side of the Moon” onto the turntable. With headphones firmly attached to my skull, I would close my eyes and listen to the opening thumps of “Breathe”. Whenever I hear a cut from that album, I am instantly transported back in time.

One more vinyl replay. During my undergraduate years at St.F.X. I spent way too much time in the excellent music library at the Angus L. MacDonald library and too little time in the stacks. They had state of the art equipment and when I needed my music fix, I would grab the Simon and Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water album, along with a set of headphones and head to a sound booth. One of my favourite cuts was Keep The Customer Satisfied. I loved hearing the sounds stream from one ear to the other.

Of course, vinyl albums had their day in the sun (or so we thought) and we moved on to cassettes, 8-tracks, CD’s. Today, you can dial up Spotify and get any song you ever heard in a nanosecond.

I once owned an impressive collection of vinyl albums. I had all The Beatles albums, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Buffalo Springfield, Carole King, James Taylor, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Moody Blues, Fleetwood Mac, George Harrison, The Who, and several hundred more. I treated them like newborns, and I kept them in pristine condition. When the tide went out on vinyl and I was no longer playing them, I (gasp) sold them all for a few bucks at a yard sale. Other than purchasing Tech stocks in the early 2000s, this was one of the worst financial mistakes of my life.

The tide goes out but it comes back in.

But how was I to know that “everything old is new again”.

Being 20 in the 70s was a gift that kept on giving. We were young and carefree and other than relatively small student loans, we didn’t have a lot of pressure or responsibilities. At least, I didn’t. I managed to remain single into my 30s.

My greatest accomplishment of the 70s was surviving them.

And now, I am in my 70s in the 2020s.

In some ways, life moves more slowly. We don’t move as quickly or athletically. We have physical aches and pains and plenty of emotional scars but here we are, in all of our imperfections. However, time seems to march on at a frantic pace. Most of us are content to hang around home, reading a good book, enjoying a simple meal and taking power snoozes.

I loved my 20s and I love my 70s… and everything in between.

“We’ve been through some things together,

With trunks of memories still to come,

We found things to do in stormy weather,

Long may you run.”

Long May You Run – Neil Young

Long may you run.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. The “Death Café” scheduled for last Thursday was postponed due to inclement weather. I have been asked to sing a few tunes for the gathering when we meet in a few weeks’ time. I have chosen John Prine’s Please Don’t Bury Me and Bob Bylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. After the postponement, I’m thinking of adding one more… Stayin’ Alive!



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