A few times a week my older sisters will send me a text or call me to let me know that one of our favorite old movies is on TV that night. Our mother does not understand our fascination in watching Mickey Rooney in the "Judge Hardy" movie series or Cary Grant as he woos us with his British accent and super-cool demeanor.
When we discuss the old movies - mostly from the 20s through early 50s - we often talk about how the women dressed in neat suits and homes were so practical. We have remarked how children knew what the word respect meant and people were actually neighborly.
We yearn for the days when life was simpler yet substantial. For instance, it was just understood that you stood up when an elder or clergy member entered the room. Everyone did the dishes together because there was no such thing as dishwashers with movable racks and spot control.
I expect this weekend one of my favorite old movies will be televised in conjunction with Memorial Day. It's a real gem, starring Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Shirley Temple (in her teen years, no less), Joseph Cotten, Monte Woolley, Robert Walker, Hattie McDaniel, Agnes Moorehead and others who went on to greater stardom.
The name of the movie is "Since You Went Away." It is set during World War II and depicts the sacrifices being made at home as the men went off to war. Colbert stars as the wife whose husband is off at war while she is home with her two daughters trying to scrape by. Everything from gasoline to sugar was rationed, which made for an interesting birthday cake in the movie. Women went to work building the war machines needed by the troops overseas.
Even the daughters got into the act, collecting newspapers and metal scraps to recycle toward the war effort. People ate off china plates, drank milk from glass bottles and went to church on Sunday morning. The family resorts to renting a room to help pay the bills. If you haven't seen it, the movie is long but eventful and very telling of another time of war. I will not give away the ending but it's sweet and salty like chocolate and pretzels.
The Memorial Day holiday is not much more than a day off work for some. The kids don't even ask why it's a holiday anymore and I don't know that we teach them much about it.
For those who keep the day sacred to its original intent, it is not a joyful day as much as it is one of recollections. We remember our war dead and all of our loved ones who no longer sit around the picnic table with us. It's a time to allow the veterans to talk about their experiences - if they will - then thank them for defending us and our ability to wave the American flag without fear of punishment or death.
It's also OK to grab a hanky and watch an old movie that reminds us we are the greatest nation in the world only because of those who took up arms and still do today to keep it that way.
Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.