Time machines among us

There's a passage in Ray Bradbury's 1957 fantasy novel, "Dandelion Wine", that has always haunted me.

The grandfather character of Bradbury's protagonist, 12-year-old Douglas Spaulding, is referred to reverently by the kids on the block as a "living time machine". When the old man spun his colorful memory stories while rocking on the family's front porch, the boy traveled back in time with the old man, too.

I personally know two living time machines that have been a part of my life since birth. (I am sure you know one or two time machines just like them.)

My 95-year-old mother and 97-year-old father are an amazing time-travelling couple.

Approaching the century mark, they live, independently, in the 1956 suburban Pennsylvania house where I grew up. In a sense, their household is a living time machine, too, even though I now know the days there are dwindling down to a precious few.

While my father sleeps more and has suffered a physical setback in the past year, he's still sharp as a tack; he reads several books a month and passes them on to me. Interestingly, he was pictured on the front page of the local newspaper-mowing the grass with his old-fashioned reel-lawnmower during an August heatwave a few years ago. Well, that's my old man-tough and old fashioned; "conservative" in all the meaningful, valued ways of the definition.

My father, born during the month and year the Great War exploded in Europe, has strong memories going back to the early 1920s-from having met U.S. Army veterans of both the U.S. Civil War and World War I to having seen Babe Ruth play baseball and shaking the hand of a man who shook the hand of President Abraham Lincoln.

When I talk with my father and mother, the world of the 1920s, '30s, and '40s comes alive.

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