Fame, as they say, is a fleeting thing.
“Thanks for the Memories” was comedian Bob Hope’s theme song from the time he introduced it in 1938 until his death at the age of 100 in 2003. It played as comforting, entertaining musical background music throughout my childhood, adolescence and, even, through a great deal of my adulthood. The bittersweet undertone of the music and lyrics kept it from being nostalgic because, just below the surface, it addressed loss—irreparable loss. What had begun as a love song, over the course of at least a half-dozen wars—declared or not—became a kind of requiem.
Simultaneously, it became a hymn of thanksgiving. The memories being, sometimes, the only thing we had to sustain us through loss. For sixty years Bob Hope, regardless of his politics—barely remembered now—reminded us to keep the memories fresh, to keep them alive.
In 2003, four years before his death, the Hollywood-Burbank Airport was re-named Bob Hope Airport. Bob Hope Airport is still the airport’s legal name but in 2016, less than 20 years after Hope’s death, the branding name of the airport (whatever that is) is once again the Hollywood-Burbank airport. This news saddened me. Hope was a hero in our household.