When does nostalgia officially start, and at what point on in our life are we no longer nostalgic for what we had and did? I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. To me nostalgia is when you remember something from the past that is gone and you wish that you could get it back. I’m not nostalgic about my time as an infant. The food was horrible, the toys were boring, and my mobility and independence were limited. My nostalgic feelings seem to start at the point where I started interacting with other kids.
I remember playing with Major Matt Mason, G.I. Joe, and Johnny West with my nephews, and I think about how I would like to have those toys again, or even the packages. I remember getting Top Value stamps and cashing them in or buying and collecting Slurpee cups, and I wish they still had Top Value stamps and collectible Slurpee cups. I would love to go shopping at Whiz, Hecks, Arlens, South Charleston Newsstand, the Arcade News and Books, or numerous other long gone and forgotten businesses.
Equally mysterious is the point at which we no longer have nostalgia for something, but just fond memories. It appears that this point seems to be when we start working and paying for our own things. I miss Sister’s Fried Chicken, Bowincals, the Galaxy 2000 night club, and Waldenbook, but none of them hold the same fascination as The Comic Book and Paperback Kingdom, the Mart Shop, or Robert Long’s Toys. I think Heaven, a gift shop that was owned by Rite Aid and was one of the stores that opened during the grand opening of the Charleston Town Center, is probably the last place of business that I hold nostalgic feelings for. I miss Hills and Big Bear and Harts, but there is no passion to the loss of those businesses like there is for the ones named above.
The key factor seems to be age and financial independence. Hills moved in to the local area after I graduated high school and was earning my own pay. Arlens, I visited with my mom and other family members and all of the things I got from there were only possible because someone else bought them for me. I miss Whispa bars from Cadbury. My wife and I would buy them by the box when we discovered them. I have had friends send them to me from overseas where they are still made. But the Marathon bar from my youth is the candy bar I feel true nostalgia toward. Marathon was nothing more than two thin braided strands of caramel dipped in chocolate and sold in a 12 inch long red wrapper yet I would pay $5 just to have one right now.