I can’t imagine that the death of Bob Hope meant anything whatsoever to anyone under the age of 30, and for those much under the age of 50 it can only serve as a vague reminder of Seventies TV at its cheesiest (unless you happen to have served in the military, in which case your memories of him may be very different). Hope, after all, never quite succeeded in making the transition to the small screen. Though he made some pretty good movies, he was essentially a creature of network radio, and who remembers that? It was a wonderful medium, a generation of gifted artists poured their souls into it, and now their work is almost completely forgotten.
This, I suspect, is why some of us who aren’t quite old enough to remember Hope when he was funny (which he was, believe it or not) still felt queasy at the news of his passing. The world spins immeasurably faster today than it did when I was a boy, and the fixed stars I remember are mostly fallen now. Meanwhile, here I sit, writing about a hundred-year-old comedian for a journalistic medium that didn’t even exist five years ago. What will I be doing in another five years? In the words of my favorite refrigerator magnet, “Time passes quickly, whether you’re having fun or not.” (I wonder what that sounds like in Latin.)
That’s what makes you cling to the landmarks of your youth, cherished or not. The older you get, the more you cherish everything that used to be, not so very long ago.