Sunday, July 12, 2009

Time traveler

I like to travel into the past, check around, see how things were going in another year, another era.

I do my time traveling with old movies, old records, old books, magazines...anything that will provide me with a gateway to a long ago time.

Tonight I watched a DVD of the classic movie, 42nd Street, from 1932, starring Warner Baxter, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler and Ginger Rogers. A few days ago I watched another movie from 1932, Final Edition, with Pat O'Brien and Mae Clarke. Earlier still I watched the film Public Enemy, the 1931 starmaking vehicle for James Cagney.

When I poke my head into an era like the 1930s I like to look at the cars, clothes, hair styles, and listen to how people were talking. My brother-in-law, who also loves this old stuff, asked me once, "Did people say, 'you mugs' to other guys like they do in old gangster movies?" I don't know. I think the dialogue in movies pretty much reflects how people were talking, unless it takes place in a time long before any of us were born, and then I think it's made up.

Costuming is important, and it's wonderful to see men wearing ties, fedoras or caps everywhere they went; women in dresses and heels, and those hats! After watching Final Edition I thought nowadays we have definitely gone over the line for casual dress in this country. When you look at newsreel footage of a 1930s baseball game you see men in ties and hats! Maybe it's a bit much to wear a tie to a ballgame. What if you got mustard from your hot dog on your tie? And it's true, in those days a man or woman wasn't dressed without a hat.

I don't necessarily like the term, "old soul," but until something better comes along that's how I feel; like I really belong in the world of the American 1930s through the mid '40s. I was born in '47 but don't remember any of the 1940s. I just know I really like everything about that time.

The best part of being a 2009 guy longing for the 1930s and '40s is that I can do it with modern technology: DVD players, the Internet. Now that I've had the technology I wouldn't want to go without it, but in many ways modern technology makes me appreciate the past even more.

Tomorrow I'll wake up in 2009 but who knows where I'll visit? I'll spend as little time in tomorrow as possible, and as much time as I can poking around in the past.

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