Nostalgia can be described as a sentimental longing for the past. It comes from the Greek nostos (homecoming) and algos (pain) and is thought to have been derived from Homer’s The Odyssey.
With baby boomers reaching their senior years, nostalgia seems to be their drug of choice. Advertisers target boomers with Beatles music, retro fashions, and even long dead actors such as Marilyn Munroe selling perfume. While boomers seem to be lapping it up, not everyone is crazy about the nostalgia bug. Heather Havrilesky writes in The Washington Post, “While griping about boomer nostalgia has become a somewhat common art, the cultural impact of that nostalgia transcends mere annoyance. Through sheer repetition and force of will, boomers have so thoroughly indoctrinated us into their worldview that we all now reflexively frame most current affairs through the lens of another generation’s formative experiences.” Abbey Hoffman might say not to trust anyone under 50!
I myself am a baby boomer. Born in 1958, I was six years old when the Beatles came to North America. I sang “A Hard Day’s Night” in my Grade One classroom, watched the moon landing on a fuzzy black and white TV, and took my Diana camera to Expo ’67 in Montreal. While I have nostalgia for those early years, the time I miss most was when I was in my early twenties, studying photography at Ryerson in Toronto.
The photo at the head of this blog captures the time that I am nostalgic for. It was taken in my neighborhood in downtown Toronto in my first year of study. Everything was new and fresh, conversations were stimulating, photography was invigorating. Several of my classmates from that year became lifelong friends. Since returning to those days is impossible, I can make the journey with my retro photographs. It’s the next best thing.
Gerrard East and Ontario Street, Toronto, 1981, is from the series: Toronto Days