By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Whatchamacolumn: Nostalgia can generate restorative power


Merriam-Webster defines “nostalgia” as “a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.” One thesaurus compares nostalgia only to homesickness, reminiscence, wistfulness, longing or melancholy.

Here’s a more creditable analysis written by existential psychology expert Clay Routledge:

“(Nostalgia) is an important psychological resource that helps individuals cope with life’s stressors, build strong relationships, find and maintain meaning in life, and become more creative and inspired … When people engage in nostalgia, they’re accessing personally meaningful autobiographical events typically shared with family, friends and other close connections … it tends to follow a redemptive sequence in which negative feelings such as longing and loss give way to positive feelings such as happiness, social connectedness, gratitude and hope.”

That explains the popularity of historic photographs on our “Vintage N-R” page, and the passion for local history on Ruben Contreras Jr.’s Facebook page, “I Dragged the Gut in Downtown McMinnville.” It’s why the most viewed article this week on our newspaper website and Ruben’s FB page was the obituary for Dave Krieger.

We all remember professionals who have touched and enhanced our lives – doctors and dentists, attorneys and accountants, pastors and professors, architects and athletes to name just a few. We extend that list to include our hair stylists and our barbers.

I can track much of my lifetime from O.K. Barber Shop (Lyle House) to Harold’s Barber Shop, then to father-son Harold & Dave’s. Over those years, other barbers like Don Mack earned their stripes at Harold & Dave’s before heading out on their own.

One longtime reader sent me a note about “great memories of Harold & Dave’s.” He recalled our newspaper story about their family RV trip across the country in the 1960s, and the 50-cent piece glued to the sidewalk outside their shop. He described the comic image on Dave’s wall showing a vehicle diving off a cliff, with this caption: “I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandpa, not screaming like the passengers in his car.”

“Nostalgia,” wrote Routledge, “is restorative … best described as a self-regulatory existential resource that people naturally and frequently use to navigate stress and uncertainty and find the motivation needed to move forward with purpose and focus … nostalgia motivates the pursuit of important life goals by increasing that sense of meaning.”

Dave Krieger’s passing, sadly too-soon, became a part of that restorative power.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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