Friday, December 16, 2011

Time--and Again?

When we see the shadow on our images, are we seeing the time 11 minutes ago on Mars? Or are we seeing the time on Mars as observed from Earth now? It's like time travel problems in science fiction. When is now; when was then?
Bill Nye

Would you like to be young again, but know what you know now?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I just read Stephen King's 11/23/63, and it reminded me, profoundly, how the idea of time travel is so irresistible . During the holiday season, It's A Wonderful Life works its magic. Did you read the iconic Time and Again? Or see that fantastic movie about HG Wells tracking down Jack the Ripper in contemporary California? (What was the name of it?) And did you see Midnight in Paris?

(And this week's Time theme continues.)

It always makes you wonder, what if? And just..maybe. Maybe, it could happen.

And that's why it's so perfect that Morgan Mandel (and yes, that's Morgan in the photo below!) is thinking about just the same thing.

MORGAN MANDEL: Aging never really sank in on me until my last birthday which ended in a zero. Hard for me to accept, but I was actually getting old, or already there, depending on what you consider middle aged. I never had children, so I missed being a grandparent, which probably would have grounded me as being part of the older generation.

I often wonder what it would be like to be young again, living in this present day and age, yet remembering everything that happened before in my earlier life. Times were so different and innocent when I was young. I could play with my friends outside, or go trick or treating wherever I wanted to on Halloween, and my parents never worried about my safety. That freedom doesn’t happen much these days, even in my low-crime neighborhood.

Whenever my girlfriends and I went to downtown Chicago, we’d get all dressed up, making sure to wear nylons and heels with our dresses. Now, anything goes, even jeans or shorts.Women hardly ever wear nylons any more. In fact, I don’t even bother buying dresses. At my last job, we all wore jeans. It’s a lot easier not to fuss with getting fancy, but some of the excitement is also taken away in the process.

At church, girls and women wore hats, veils, or even doilies, while the guys had to take off their hats. The only hats I ever wear now are the knit ones to keep my head warm in the winter, and I take them off when I get inside church. Easter bonnets used to be really big years ago, but now I hardly ever see one.

Attitudes were different before also. Way back when I was growing up, women were treated as not quite equal, yet deserving of respect. Men would open car doors or building doors and even pull out chairs for them. Men wouldn’t think of swearing in front of a woman. Now, women even swear. I’m guilty of that vice myself, though I held off for many years until I felt I was old enough and had earned the right. I hope you’re not too shocked by that revelation.

Speaking of shocking, Victoria’s Secret commercials would have never been allowed on TV then, much less porn channels. Gidget in a two-piece bathing suit was racy enough.

Of course, TV men and women who were supposedly married slept fully clothed in twin beds, not next to each other. Now, you can find them in the same bed, with hardly anything on, and sometimes on top of each other.

The tradeoff was women were expected to be homemakers and not workforce members. It was comforting to come home from school and find my Mom there. Of course, she’d be the one to cook all the meals, not my Dad. I don’t even think he knew how to cook. By the way, my husband can cook and so can I; although, here’s another shocking revelation, I use the microwave way too much. That’s another invention I was around to witness.

Back then, women were expected to stay in the home, and let the man earn a living. As I grew older, the concept began to change. More women entered the workforce, my mother included. Women began to gain equality in pay and rank, although there’s still a ways to go.

I could go on and on, sharing more memories, but that would be a memoir, so I’ll just mention a smattering more: The debut of color TV, the first man on the moon, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, the almost assassination of Ronald Reagan, flower powethe White Sox winning the pennant, the Cold War, my first correcting typewriter, and my first computer, a Radio Shack Tandy.

I wish I could keep all of these memories and more, yet turn back the clock. I know it’s impossible, but I can always pretend. That’s why I wrote Forever Young: Blessing or Curse.

What about you? Would you like to be young again, yet keep all your memories? Maybe you’d like to share one of your memories here.

ABOUT MORGAN MANDEL: Morgan Mandel is a former freelancer for the Daily Herald newspaper, prior president of Chicago-North RWA and Library Liaison for MWMWA. She writes mysteries, romances and more. Her latest book is the thriller, Forever Young: Blessing or Curse. Other books by Morgan Mandel include the romantic suspense, Killer Career, the mystery, Two Wrongs, and the romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams.

Look for Morgan on Facebook, Twitter, her website Morgan Mandel.Com, her blogs, Double M, Acme Authors Link, Make Mine Mystery, The Blood-Red Pencil, and a great many other sites.


Morgan Mandel said...

It's fun and a little sad to reminisce. Thanks for letting me share.

Morgan Mandel

Austin Carr said...

I've been wrong before, but I think this kind of impossible nostalgia (though plenty entertaining, Ms. M) is an entirely feminine exercise. Same with most of the time travel movies.

Morgan Mandel said...

I'm wondering exactly how old you are, Austin.(g)


Hallie Ephron said...

Hi, Morgan! So interesting - I confess to have almost no nostalgia for the "old days" except when I can't find a parking space.

Interesting point, "Austin" -- I think time travel appeals to all ages but possibly for different reasons. For older folks, it could be about nostalgia. Or regret (a chance to "get it right this time"). For younger folks, thrill seeking. I loved all those Star Trek episodes about time travel, and there were a gazillion of them. Also the mystery that ran on PBS "Life on Mars." And of course "The Time Traveler's Wife" (which is surely classified "women's fiction).

BTW kids in my neighborhood still play street hockey without parents hovering.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Austin--that's such an interesting thought!

Woody Allen certainly contemplated it--for Midnight in PAris. Bit I think his botto line was that one's own present is preferable. And Back to the Future--all three of them--pretty masculine--but that was about changing history. And HG Wells--but that was not nostalgia. But the amazing 11/23/63 is an entire book of nostalgia, changing history, and the lure of the past versus the reality of the present.

But I don't "miss" the old says, pretty much not at all. I'm happier now than ever. And the past is much more fascinating when you see what it's become.

But hey, wouldn't we all like to go to the future? Just-briefly, and with a guaranteed return ticket?

I DID like Cokes in glass bottles.

Morgan Mandel said...

My husband loves watching the Time Traveler. It's okay, but I prefer the Time Traveler's wife.


Debra St. John said...

Things certainly have changed in my time. Just what I'm doing right now...chatting with y'all on-line wouldn't have been possible even when I was in college in the 90's.

I don't think I'd like to go back...things happen for a reason...there's not really much use wondering 'what if'.

Interesting post. Definitely some food for thought, Morgan.


Morgan Mandel said...

Going back would be difficult for me as well. I love the Internet and other conveniences, but I wouldn't mind combining some of the good things from the past with what we have now.


Barbara Weitz said...

What a fun post! The new year usually brings a little reminiscing with it, which I think is good to see how far we've come. Isn't it interesting we remember the good times/things and sift out the bad.

And I agree with you about safety. If I had a magic wand and could give the children of the world one thing, it would be the safety we felt playing outside unchaperoned.

This is dating me, but one of my college exams required passing both manual AND electric typing tests (5 minutes) with very few errors. LOL...oh well, it has served me well here in the computer world.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Typing! My basement shelves now hold three typewriters..I can;t bear to give them up. A manual--which no one will EVER use again--and two selectrics.

Although I interviewed Diana Henriques the other day--she wrote
the amazing book on Bernie Madoff. And she said one of the ways he created authentic-looking documents was by using old typewriters! Hmmm.mystery writers?

Silver James said...

Morgan, such an interesting question and concept. Me? I look back fondly but remember those times weren't as glorious as they seem viewed through the lace of memory. I've explored the theme in two of my books and found it interesting to contemplate. While I'd love to have my "old" body back (or would that be my "new" body? Let's just say the body that belonged to my younger version!) I have no desire to return to those times of yesteryear and deal with growing up again. I'm comfortable in my head these days.

Morgan Mandel said...

I'd love to have my old figure back, at least. I found another old photo at home from when I was in my 20s. My husband, who should know what I looked like since he married me at 24, saw it and asked if it was me. Hmm, what does that say?

Morgan Mandel

Nancy said...

Sometimes I find that those nostalgic memories may have become just a little sugar coated over time. Yet I, too, sometimes yearn to return to a younger me with the knowledge I have today. Even with the knowledge, however, that younger me would still lack the relaxed comfort level and confidence that I have developed over time. So, even though there are many times I can think of that I would love to go back and do differently, I think I'd rather stay where I am (though "holding" here would be just fine) - and reminisce!

Morgan Mandel said...

Holding sounds like a good idea, but with a few less sags and pounds!

Morgan Mandel

Maggie Toussaint said...

Times change and so do we. Sometimes I feel like I've earned the wrinkles and other stuff, other times I feel like I'm tired of looking like I slept in someone else's skin!

Great post, Morgan!


Catriona McPherson said...

Hi Morgan,

I'm fascinated by stories that muck around with time. I must read yours. (And two weeks of reading by the fireside starts tonight - hooray!).

I wrote a time-travel story myself a few years ago and I *thought* it would be about getting it right - the working title Save Elvis (which the publisher changed anyway) was meant to be ironic - but it did in fact turn out to be about altering history. (Stephen King ripped me off big-time;-) )

But as to actually travelling backward . . . I think I'll stick to buying vintage dresses and filling my kitchen with Doris-Day kitsch. I'd hate to have had to choose between being a nurse, a secretary or a teacher.

And I'd hate to be young now, dating those boys you see with their trousers hanging off. The horror: what would we talk about?

As to pre-20thC timetravel? One word. Or maybe two half-words. Sanpro.

Ellen Byerrum said...

I really enjoyed this blog and taking a trip back in time. As for me, I just wish people would dress better. As band leader Doc Scantlin says in his shows, "Casual clothes suck."

And I think nylons are not a bad thing, especially in the freezing winter. Maybe I'm sensitive because I don't have the greatest legs. Black tights are okay, but we all start looking like we belong to some strange cult.

Morgan Mandel said...

I do admire lovely dresses and wish I could wear dressses again, but none of them look right anymore. Everything's shifted down on me, and I was short-waisted to begin with. Because of that, I'm happy to have the option of wearing jeans and other casual clothes, but there are limits.
Yes, those trousers that slouch down so far seem mighty uncomfortable and silly. I'd feel like I should be pulling them up all the time.

Morgan Mandel

Linda Rodriguez said...

Fun post, Morgan! I'm not really nostalgic for the good old days, though. For a lot of people, they weren't really so great. I'll take now with all its problems. Besides, in the good old days, I'd be dead with the diseases I have. I'll stay with modern medicine, thank you. :-)

Hank, I should have known that, if there were anyone else in the world with old typewriters sitting in the basement, it would be you. From our backgrounds in journalism, I suspect. LOL

Karen in Ohio said...

Linda got it exactly right: In the old days those of us of, ahem, a certain age, would almost certainly be either seriously decrepit or dead by now. Not to mention toothless.

Morgan Mandel said...

I agree that medicine is definitely better these days. New advances are always happening, and that's a good thing. Now they can catch diseases before they can get a foothold.

Morgan Mandel

Bob Sanchez said...

From time to time I think of so many mistakes I've made and what it would be like to have do-overs. Of course that would have made room for a whole different collection of mistakes.

So maybe it's just as well that time moves in only one direction.

Morgan Mandel said...

Good point, Bob!

Morgan Mandel

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

OH, Karen. Teeth. I forgot. I ain't leaving the 21st.

Yes, Linda, exactly. They're all from the newsroom...donated when we switched to the next technology.

Catriona, where can we read the story? It sounds terrific.

I bet it's difficult to write time travel--you have to figure out all the rules. Stephen King handles it beautifully in 11/23.

Jan Brogan said...

Welcome Morgan,
As I sit here leafing through my new, most fabulous book, Nineteenth-Century Fashion in DETAIL, I am totally enjoying your post and I'm full of nostalgia for the REALLY, REALLY OLD DAYS. I'm talking "richly embroidered white satin studded with turquoise glass" gown of 1890, but I digress.

I don't understand why we had to give up courtesy for respect, but then I don't understand why anyone feels free to express his/her irritation at all times to all people.

And Austin, how about BACK TO THE FUTURE - those movies were NOT just for women. Although, I do completely own up to the fact that mostly I like to time travel to places where women we wearing really cool outfits. So mea culpa on that one.

I'm doing research into the 1970s and I can tell you, there is NO WAY any of us want to go back there, except maybe for the music. It;s amazing just how violent all US cities were in that time period.

Rhys Bowen said...

Welcome Morgan. Ah, do-vers. What would I have changed? Every time I went back to England I was always glad I didn't marry my first choice of husband. Sooo boring. As for going back in time, I don't think so, although I would like that many years stretching ahead of me rather than a finite few.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Plus, we don't want shoulder pads.

Nancy Jo said...

I love your comment that We don't fuss with getting dressed up or being fancy. It made me think, when was the last time any of us looked in the mirror and twirled around, thrilled with the way we looked? Or just to see our skirt whirl around?

Morgan Mandel said...

I agree about the 70s. It was a crazy time, strange songs by singers who sounded drugged and probably were, communes, hippies.

Morgan Mandel

Morgan Mandel said...

I have a full length mirror in the spare bedroom, but it's not stationery. I drag it out only when I'm very unsure if an outfit looks right. Never do any twirls, never wear dresses or skirts,since they look too dumpy on me.I don't remember if I twirled any when wearing the dress in the photo shown here.

Morgan Mandel

Joelle Charbonneau said...

My mom always says that she wouldn't pay anything to turn back the clock and go back to her high school days. I have to admit I feel the same. But it is fun to remember and think "thank God I know better now!".

Morgan Mandel said...

It's fun to watch historical movies with women wearing fancy ball gowns, but I'd never write a historical novel. That's because it would be too much work doing all the research!

I admire those who do such novels and get everything straight.

Morgan Mandel

Morgan Mandel said...

I remember my high school days as being a frustrating time. That's because I went to an all girl's high school and didn't get a chance to meet many guys. When I did, I was ill at ease. I think I would have done better at a coed school, but I didn't have a choice.
Anyway, I did make some great friends in high school.

Morgan Mandel

Morgan Mandel said...

Rhys mentioned the finite few years stretching ahead. That part is definitely a bummer, but it's what you do with what you have left that counts.

Morgan Mandel

Nancy said...

That's funny, Hank - I just cut shoulder pads out of a blouse this morning!

Morgan Mandel said...

Shoulder pads always seem to go the wrong way. I get rid of mine also.

Morgan Mandel

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

JOelle! Hurray for your new book deal! Email me..and we'll plan when ou can come tell us all about it!

Ellen--so great to see you... Nancy, xxx more time...tell us about the new book..and where to find it!

Morgan Mandel said...

Forever Young: Blessing or Curse is about a 55 year old whose husband dies in a hit and run accident. In desperation, she takes an experimental pill to be 24forever, yet still retain all of her memories. Too late she learns the pill has flaws, and her husband knew about them. Was his death really an accident?

Forever Young: Blessing or Curse is on kindle at Amazon, at
and later will go to print.

Thanks for asking about my book, Hank. Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts about what it would be like to be young again, knowing what they know now.

Thanks also to Jungle Red Writers, especially Hank Phillippi Ryan, for hosting me here at your great blogspot.

Morgan Mandel

Joan Hall Hovey said...

Love your post, Morgan. I think I probably romanticize the old days, and moreso as I get older. I long to spend one more overnight in my dear grandmother's house listening to The Squeaking Door or Suspense Theatre on the radio.

Anonymous said...

"Time After Time" is the name of the movie with HG Wells chasing Jack the Ripper through modern day SF! One of my favorites!

-Bob D.

Anonymous said...

I'd definitely like to go back in time with the knowledge I have now. And if I had to come back to the 21st century again I'd take even more pictures than I did the first time around. I'm having a happy time now; I just don't like the 21st century much at all. Sole exception -- the good things about the internet. I miss the world having a smaller population and more trees.

Austin, I don't see this type of exercise as being feminine at all.

Happy Holidays, everybody!


Morgan Mandel said...

I do remember the times my grandmother came to visit and we went to Marshall Field's Walnut Room at Christmastime. In fact, I included the Walnut Room in my mystery Two Wrongs, because of those memories.

As far as pictures are concerned, it would have been nice to have more from those long ago days, but cameras weren't as easy to use then, or as reliable. You had to wait to see what the pictures looked like. Digital is so much better now.

Morgan Mandel

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I don't mind being older as a writer because my skills actually keep improving. However, I miss family members that are gone.

Jacqueline Seewald
THE TRUTH SLEUTH in hardcover
THE INFERNO COLLECTION, THE DROWNING POOL--now available in ebook formats

shirley dicks said...

I would love to go back to the 50s where I grew up in a small town in Concord, NH. We never locked our doors, didnt have or even know of murder, rape, child abduction or any violence. NH is still one who has very little violent crime.

I loved that we had no drugs, that we could pray in school and that you could have the nativity for Christmas. You could say Merry Christmas without people suing you for not saying happy holidays instead.

I loved that everyone spoke english and people spoke to you on the streets, that we knew our neighbors up and down the streets. That our clothes covered our bodies and kids in school wore decent clothes and not shorts up to their buts, or pants hanging down to their knees.

I loved the respect we had for each other and our parents and that we played with our brothers and sisters and sat down to supper each night together. We may not have had teleisions, computers and things but people didn't get high on drugs and try to kill you for the next hit.

I love how close families were as they sat at night doing puzzles, going swimming in the pool across the street in the summer and not have to pay for it. How we went ice skating all winter at the same park free and came home to a hot cup of cocoa with marshmeellows.

I love the fact us kids could go out trick and treat alone without worrying about the predators out there waiting for us, or the poisoned candy fed to us along the way.

Those were the best days of my life and how I wish my kids, grandkids and great grandkids could expeience a time that was wonderful and safe. Where they didn't have to worry about colors they wore, or looking at someone the wrong way and ending up in a drive by, which they didn't have.

I'd go back in a heart beat. Shirley

Morgan Mandel said...

As Jacqueline mentioned, with experience comes skill. Some authors are naturally talented, but I believe the majority of us struggle and learn as we go along.

And Sylvia, yes, we've lost lots of wonderful ways of life from way back when. Too bad we can't combine the two. I do love technology!

Morgan Mandel