Friday, August 31, 2007

"To Diana, Who Understands..."

I'm not sure exactly when it was that I realized that I had been born in the wrong decade, and would have been much happier and less out-of-place had I been a member of my grandparents' generation (of course, if I were, they wouldn't have been my grandparents then, would they?)

(Aren't they beautiful? I think I look quite a bit like my grandmother, and I have my grandpa to thank for all of this crazy hair. I've had this picture framed on my desk for years...sometimes I'll look at their young, lovely, smiley faces and think, "Could they had ever imagined when they were posing for those photo that it would end up on the desk of a granddaughter they would never get to know?")

I grew up in a house filled with Frank Sinatra and big band music and old movies...perhaps that played into it...but my sister managed to escape falling in love with the 1940's. Maybe it's because she always wore headphones and listened to the New Kids on the Block and Debbie Gibson, while my parents brainwashed me with "Stormy Weather" and "I'll Be Seeing You."

It might have been that Molly McIntyre doll I got when I was 8.

I loved my Molly doll and the books that went along with her. Through Molly, I learned all about what it was like to be a kid in America during the 1940's. When Molly's books were made into a movie last year (starring Molly Ringwald), I was thrilled and tuned in, laughing and crying at all the right parts.

(And, of course, exclaiming to myself, "THAT WASN'T HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE BOOKS!" whenever the movie strayed.)

People were, without doubt, just more beautiful back then. They didn't try so hard. Look at the Britneys and Parises (is that the right pural?) and Lindsays...not to say that these girls aren't pretty, but how could anything compare to the pure, effortless beauty of the 1940's?!

Exhibits A and B:

Cary Grant! How handsome and masculine was he?

Rita Hayworth! To this day, she is one person I would love to look like. (Not that I'm not happy looking like my grandmother.)

See what I mean?

People were just so gorgeous back then.

And more romantic.

Although this generation most certainly has its share of romantic, old-fashioned songwriters (Mr. Peter Cincotti, I'm looking at you when I say this), there is just something about songs like:

The mere idea of you, the longing here for you
You'll never know how slow the moments go till I'm near to you
I see your face in every flower
Your eyes in stars above
It's just the thought of you
The very thought of you, my love


I'll be seeing you
In every lovely summer's day;
In every thing that's light and gay.
I'll always think of you that way.

I'll find you
In the morning sun
And when the night is new.
I'll be looking at the moon,
But I'll be seeing you.


How much do I love you?
I’ll tell you no lie
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?

How many times a day do I think of you?
How many roses are sprinkled with dew?

How far would I travel
To be where you are?
How far is the journey
From here to a star?

And if I ever lost you
How much would I cry?
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?


Things just do not get more romantic and lovlier and hotter than that.

Several years ago, Tom Brokaw published the first of his Greatest Generation books. These books celebrated the generation which was Tom's parents and my grandparents...their courage, their determination, their good hearts. I read every one of these books cover to cover, and when I sent Mr. Brokaw a copy of my school's literary magazine (which included a story about my obsession with the 1940's), I received a package from NBC studios a few weeks later in the mail.

(My sister got the mail that day, and brought it in saying, "I don't even want to KNOW what you are getting from NBC studios...")

Tom had sent me a signed copy of The Greatest Generation Speaks, in which he inscribed, "To Diana...who understands...Tom Brokaw."

It remains one of my most prized posessions.

And I take it as a great compliment that I do "understand".

This picture was used for the cover of the book, and is entitled "She Said Yes!" A soldier proposed to his girlfriend via letters and she wrote back accepting his proposal. He read her letter with a photo of her propped up on his hat.

It was an amazing era, one we can all learn a great deal from, and one day I hope that our generation will strive to be just as great...

Diana Rissetto

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