The Good Old Days. How I Long For Them!
No, I don’t mean the 1970s. Although from this distant, hazy retrospective telescope I am looking down, the 1970s look rather idyllic and, well, hazy. I suppose that’s the benefit of retrospect. Watching Brady Bunch reruns makes us long for those flower power, bell-bottom, far out days. We completely forget that when we were in that decade, it was one endless, violent, dysfunctional bad acid trip. It was hell, pure and simple, and we longed to escape into the 1980s. It’s a sad truth that Greg Brady only looks hep and groovy from this distance.
I’m talking about the 1850s. How I long for those days! We often say that something “hearkens back to a simpler time” and I think that’s the bottom line about my love for the 19th century. Back then divorce was very uncommon. Couples were truly in it for better or worse, not just until someone got bored or irritated with someone’s TV-watching habits.
Back then men were men! My Victorian idols were the African explorers of old, manly adventurers such as Sir Richard Burton, de Brazza, Henry Morton Stanley, and Samuel Baker. These men didn’t pussyfoot around bitching that a parking spot was ten feet farther away. No, they had malarial swamps to ford, craggy mountain ranges to traverse, exotic countries to discover.
These were the sorts of men who would “woo” you. They’d spur their gallant horses a hundred miles to impress the woman of their dreams, and once they’d set their heart on a woman, a mere Bad Hair Day wouldn’t deter them. No, these men were in it for the long haul. Through typhus, boils, cramps, and pestilence, these hearty men persevered. Modern men hesitate to drive an additional exit down the freeway, much less hew a road through the mighty Sierras with an axe and a mule.
It didn’t hurt that back then, frontier women were so scarce as to be fairy tales. A fellow was more liable to go the extra mile for whatever broken-down, prematurely aged woman managed to make it through the trials of sea and land. The surviving women could pick and choose from these hearty trailblazing men. A trainload of bachelorettes was a bigger sensation than an annual mountain man rendezvous.
Ah, for the simpler days. Ten years ago it was foretold that a computer in every house and an iphone in every hand would make life simpler for us. Has anyone’s life been simplified? Who has more leisure time, is less stressed, lounges about more? No one! Technology has speeded up as our attention spans have shortened. Now movie trailers run at such warp speed you can’t even read the credits. The last Sherlock Holmes flick I tried to see in a theater was edited so swiftly I had to wait in the lobby due to vertigo. The next step in technology will be to permanently embed computers in our eyeballs.
Give me the more leisurely, more natural and basic days when a man came calling with a flower in his buttonhole. Or a whole line of gentleman callers stretching to the horizon. The only drawback about living back then was that once you made your choice, you were stuck with him.
I suppose the conclusion would be that “things look better in retrospect.” Even our cocktail-sipping lawn-mowing parents were on the verge of an encounter group meltdown. But to us it looked just hazy and groovy.
Karen is so kindly giving away one digital copy of her new release in the How the West Was Done series called Cold Steel and Hot Lead. Leave a comment on this post, along with your email address, no later than 7:00pm on July 24th to enter to win.
Stuck on a snowbound train in Laramie, Wyoming, is Senator Derrick Spiro, traveling to introduce a measure giving women the right to vote. While watching a magician making a girl vanish, Derrick meets Rudy Dunraven, escape artist. When the girl fails to materialize again, the men flee from the unruly lynch mob.
They are assisted in their quest to find the real kidnapper by Alameda Hudson, bolting from a disastrous engagement to a serial cheater. A helpful and mischievous spirit instructs Alameda to join the play the circus is putting on in town. All three, tortured by past failed loves, are reluctant to love again. But they have no one to trust but each other, and they can’t clear their names until Alameda puts herself in danger during the final act of the play.
Alameda hopes she lives long enough to be the first woman voter in America.
Note: Each book in the How the West Was Done series stands alone and can be read out of sequence in any order.
Karen knew she wanted to be a writer when she was 3. She sat on her bed gazing at her book, The Bee Man of Orn, thinking “What power there is in creating imaginary worlds! The reader is automatically transported into a reality that you created. She hears your characters talking, sees the vistas you painted with words.” Then she realized she had better learn to read.
When Karen was 12, she had a dream of being in a village on the coast of Kenya, so at 23 she bought a one-way plane ticket to Nairobi to find the village. She climbed the Mountains of the Moon in Rwanda to see mountain gorillas, hitchhiked overland through Egypt, Uganda, Zaire, and Zambia, lived with the Turkana in the Northern Frontier District of Kenya, went down the Congo on a decrepit steamer, and sailed up the Nile on a leaky dhow.
Her first three novels were historical fiction involving precolonial African explorers. Since she was always either accused or praised (depending how you look at it) for writing overly steamy sex scenes, erotic romance was the natural next step. She is currently writing about the rough and tumble life of the California gold rush, and lives in Northern California with her Newfoundland dog.
Check out more about Karen and her books here.