Nostalgia: it ain’t what it used to be

Back in 1979, the kids summer reading theme at the library was "Super Heroes Are Super Readers." The kids wrote letters to some celebrities of the day - their Super Heroes - and a lot of the celebrities wrote back. Twelve of those Super Hero letters have been preserved on Des Plaines Memory, the library's online local history and culture collection, including a letter from my former Super Hero, Bruce Jenner.

Like a lot of stuff on Des Plaines Memory, looking at those celebrity letters puts me in a nostalgic mood. It's great to be able to look through all the Des Plaines Memory collections and see pieces of our city's past from the 1800s to the present day.

But nostalgia doesn't always feel so nice; sometimes that feeling is bittersweet. After all, what is nostalgia but a longing for an idealized past? Every good memory we have from our past is tempered by the knowledge we have in the present. Case in point: me and Bruce. I miss the Super Hero Bruce of my childhood, and it pains me a bit to see the Super Villain Kardashian Bruce of today plastered across all media all the time.

But enough about me and my Bruce Jenner issues! Who were the other Super Heroes of 1979 and would we still consider them "super"? Here are but a few:

Ray Rayner

Ray Rayner, Chicago's beloved TV host. Seen here with his friends Chelveston the goose and Cuddly Dudley.

JoJo Starbuck

JoJo Starbuck, figure skating star. A U.S. Champion three times, an Olympian twice over, and ex-wife of another Super Hero Super Reader.

Terry Bradshaw

Terry Bradshaw, NFL Hall of Famer, Fox Sports commentator and former husband of another Super Hero Super Reader.

Tom Wopat

Tom Wopat, popular actor/singer in the 1970s and 1980s. If not exactly a super hero, he definitely was a Duke of Hazzard.

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