The subject line of today’s post is pulled from someone’s “quotation” in my dad’s high school yearbook. How I remember this, I have no single idea, because I haven’t seen that yearbook in many years now. I just remember it. Neat quote.
So, my brief respite from the blog (and from life) yesterday and today was spent up in New Hampshire on Golden Pond, or as it’s really called, Squam Lake, the much quieter cousin of Lake Winnipesaukee. The lakes each provide sharp lifestyle contrasts – the significantly larger Winipesaukee is more like America as we know it today: everything is big. Big houses, big boats, big SUV’s, big restaurants, big money. This also means more oppportunity for activities both fun and potentially over the top.
Squam, on the other hand, doesn’t allow motorboats over a certain size and has some issues around land trusts which have prevented the sprawl that its big brother has seen over the last twenty years. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find many living quarters at all right on the lake. And when you do find lodgings at Squam they are, shall we say, rustic. Each night you’re more or less guaranteed to wake up in the middle of the night and hear that familiar buzzing of a mosquito around your ear or a loon crying out in the pitch black. The structures (at least the ones I’ve stayed in) are cabins, pure and simple. Not houses. So, no television, no air conditioning, severely outdated electricity and old wooden doors & windows that never quite close correctly due to time and constant swing from cold to warm, year to year.
Each location has its significant plusses and minuses and these are not the topic of today’s post. While scanning and inspecting the old Squam cabin on Monday, I came across an absolute jewel – stacks upon stacks of old Life magazines, in very decent condition, spanning the years 1939-1948. I suppose it was serendipitous that I found these, then, because I have just completed reading the magnificent 1,000 page Harry Truman biography. The magazines essentially cover the very era where Truman and his predecessor were such momentous figures. Obviously the early ’40s issues of Life were laser focused on the war, with nearly every ad calling for us regular Americans to conserve whatever materials possible for our fighting boys around the globe. The latter half of the decade provided much lighter fare, my favorites being a 1948 cover story on someone’s pet deer and the “College Clothes” issue from 1946.
It is clearly no secret to anyone who has read this blog that I am very much a fan of history and that one of the recurring themes of my writing over the years is the simple passage of time, a topic which always has and forever will amaze me. I don’t know when it was that this harmless obsession came about, but once it did, it may have solved a lot of uneasiness I probably had in my life beforehand, for I’ve come to try and really appreciate every second I have here. Or, perhaps, the years just bring maturity. Probably both.
Regardless, at one point as I was lying there in an old, raggedy glider-couch on the weathered porch, I poked my head out of a 1940’s Life Magazine and just took a minute to look over the incredibly calm, quiet lake and thought to myself that this is, in all likelihood, exactly what it looked like in the 1940s. In fact, someone probably sat here reading this thing when it was “the new issue of Life,” and took a similar pause, then resumed reading, just like I did. Why I think this is incredible, I just couldn’t tell you. With any luck, someone 65 years down the road will leaf through the same issue and appreciate it all (the magazine, the view, the era, time passing) as much as I do today.