Here’s Your Upper: A Deep Wallow in Nostalgia

We have a long road ahead when it comes to managing life in the time of Covid and I’ve found ways to keep up mood and morale. The greatest of these…in my house now…is a deep dive into the past. When one is older, the past is BIG. How to organize my wallows was the problem. The answer? Organize nostalgia by decades.

I decided to start with the 1950’s. Such a calm decade compared to what went before…Depression and World War II. Living into the beginning years of that decade was like coming home. How sweet it is now to wallow backwards into memories of that time.

I began my wallow by ordering a used copy of a long lost family cookbook: Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book, revolutionary in that it displayed photo images of techniques and foods, including, on page 307, Beauty  Touches for Pies…a photo guide. (Most cookbooks before the 50’s were just text.) In this book, I’ve found family recipes including my grandmother’s way of making tapioca and I intend to cook from this book for a month at least.

On the menu: nostalgia for the mouth. I want to try the touching 1950’s version of ethnic gourmet, spaghetti and meat balls, and will look for a straw-bottomed bottle of Chianti in which to put a multi-colored candle that drips and makes one feel racy enough to put on a black turtleneck.

Then what to watch after dinner? What were the great movies of the 1950’s, many appearing now on Turner Movie Classics, Netflix and Amazon Prime? Look for American in Paris, Singin’ In the Rain, Bridge Over the River Kwai, Rear Window, High Noon and many more. If you are watching on an Internet movie site, just put in:  movies from the 1950’s. Turner’s schedule for classic movies can be found at:

If you are royally sick of watching anything on a screen, there are the books of the 1950’s, ones you may have not yet read. Auntie Mame and Eloise in Paris are the lighter ones. Peyton Place will show you how values have changed in 70 years. Here are some others for a deep literary dive:  East of Eden, The Old Man and the Sea, Doctor Zhivago, The Caine Mutiny, From Here to Eternity, Giant and on and on. Almost all can  be found on Amazon from the used book sellers.

Music: Oh boy, this is a book in itself. That decade was so rich musically. I could throw out dozens of names, but the important thing is that any of the artists you once liked can be found on

If you want to see Duke Ellington at the 1956 Newport Festival, you can find it on YouTube. Or look for Elvis doing Jail House Rock. I’ve gotten fabulously distracted on my computer looking for Little Richard, Ray Charles,  Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane, Count Basie. Again, almost anybody you can think of who sang or played an instrument in the 1950’s, can be seen doing it again on YouTube.

While you’re on YouTube, you can also look to for the Top Ten TV Shows of the 1950’s to get snippets of I Love Lucy, Lassie, The Ed Sullivan Show or The Honeymooners with Jackie Gleason, he who showed me, when my dad took me to dinner with him, how to eat black olives…one on each finger. Gleason was funny on and off the screen.

Then, getting away from the boob tube, there are always the yearbooks. If you have any from the 1950’s, you can go back and look at lost loves, departed friends, friends you should get in touch with while you are both alive, the teachers, good and bad, and what passed for cool things to write in a year book back then.

If you have any clothes from the 50’s, you are a better hoarder than I. My ex took back his letter sweater so I can’t wallow in my closet.

I intend to go backwards into the 1940’s and started last night with a sleeper of a good movie on Netflix,  The Exception, with Christopher Plummer. More on that decade later. Until a vaccine arrives, my intention is to wait out life by nostalgic visits to the eight decades between the 1940’s and now.  If I give a month to exploring each decade…. books, food, movies, TV, music, friends and lovers from the past…that should take me up to the arrival of a vaccine and a reopened, less frightening world.


6 thoughts on “Here’s Your Upper: A Deep Wallow in Nostalgia”

    1. Jackie…you are still making new ones! I miss those Sunday concerts and if Joshua Bell comes back, let us know. Worth a five hour drive.

  1. Mel, I enjoyed your nostalgia. It would be fun to share and compare 50″s memories. Mine include a huge dose of Davy Crockett, You Asked for It, Maverick, Gunsmoke, Sputnik, pickup football games, the milkman, mom/pop grocery stores, hot fudge sundaes at the drugstore, our color TV for the Rose Parade, reading comic books on the floor of my bedroom, air raid drills (duck and cover), and summer camp adventures.

    On Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 8:40 AM Mel Walsh…Words for the Wise wrote:

    > Mel Walsh posted: “We have a long road ahead when it comes to managing > life in the time of Covid and I’ve found ways to keep up mood and morale. > The greatest of these…in my house now…is a deep dive into the past. > When one is older, the past is BIG. How to organize my wa” >

    1. Steve, great boy memories. Here are some girl flashes to the past: Light and Bright hair coloring, Maybelline mascara where you spit on the slab of solid mascara to get it liquid…sorry about that now. Getting a trainer bra when there was nothing to train. Dancing the double Lindy to Sing, Sing, Sing.
      No matter the gender, like you, we all remember the milkman. If you lived in a cold climate, the contents of the bottle expanded and the cream popped its top. Milkmen also eventually had cottage cheese and breakfast pastries. In CT, there was a small truck that sold pastries with the brand name of Frisbee. The pies came in a tin that was good for throwing and playing catch and am pretty sure that was the origin of today’s Frisbee.
      I did love the 50’s and maybe that was because I was too busy with school and boys to read the newspapers or listen to news. Is that a prescription for today? No news being good news?

  2. Mel, you’re always wonderful.  Am I rmisremembering “Wallow in the shallows”? What it reminded me of, and I might have posted about this before, is the timeline.  I’ve recommended creating a timeline  to many people, I suspect with zero response.  But as we age and forget, a timeline becomes not only longer but more important.  I’ll tell you about mine: yours could be altogether different.  And the format can also change; I just restarted mine three years earlier (1933), from Joe’s birth year to my parents’ marriage year (1930).  Hey, it’s mine; I can do anything I want with it.

    Here’s my format.  I call it The Years of Our Lives.  Remember the movie The Best etc., about three returning WW2 vet’s?  My timeline is on Excel, which provides the graph.  There are rows and columns (duh!).  Mine, because it’s for two people even though one died nine years ago, has a column in the center for the years.  Then my events in my column, Joe’s in his, and one on the left for Outside Events.  I recently added one on the right for deaths. Is it more work than it’s worth?  I don’t think so.  I use it to remind myself when I first worked with or met people, our apartments, house, and back to apartments, jobs, organizations, health issues, and really, anything of importance. It would be interesting to know it any of you have done something similar, or if different, in what ways.

    1. Wow Willa. Thank you for a really interesting idea. I would have to do it on a giant piece of paper, not on Excel. It is a very graphic way of understanding the tides of your life and I would like to try it. Thanks for sending this idea.

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