National Public Radio is one of my lifelines and yet there are times it can be dangerous to your health. One minute you’re a 51-year old lady with your hands on the steering wheel, listening to the day’s news; the next, you’re an 17-year-old student, home alone, line dancing to hits from Saturday Night Fever.

When NPR announced that the Bee Gees’ Robin Gibb had died earlier this week, I got lost in a disco reverie. The segment on Gibb closed with a long clip from the Bee Gees hit Night Fever, made famous by the movie Saturday Night Fever. Was I sitting at a red light or dancing on the cusp of my whole future? For a few seconds, I wasn’t sure.

Not even a week has passed since we lost another important singer from the era of my youth, Donna Summer. Is this the way our parents felt when they lost Frank Sinatra?

If you were a young person listening to the radio in 1977, you knew the music of the Bee Gees and Donna Summer by heart, even if you hadn’t set foot in a disco.

Isn’t it easy to see why music is being used as treatment with Alzheimer patients to stimulate memory and brain function? My friends and I were comparing notes and we agree that clothes and smells also revive scenes from our past.

This 1957 cotton days dress designed by Norman Norell brought me a vivid rush of memories. It’s part of the American Legacy exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, highlighting four Indiana fashion designers whose work became synonymous with American style. Actress Betty Furness once owned the dress and donated it to the IMA.

Seeing it reminded me of an illustration on the cover of a pamphlet my mother used to help me learn about the birds and the bees as a third-grader. Her timing has always seemed odd to me: I was bickering in the yard with my brothers when she called me inside for this tête-à-tête. But I give her props for choosing a resource that had instant appeal. It was loaded with illustrations of sleek women wearing dresses like this. The facts of life came to me in a glamourous (if not altogether realistic) package and I could hardly wait for the miraculous changes described there.

I once had a dress almost like this one. Mine was a sea of orange poppies over a white background with a tulle underskirt to create fullness. (Mom and I always called them can-cans.) It was a hand-me-down, first worn when our friends invited me on their family vacation as a companion for their daughter Marsha. Any of my brothers would have made a more interesting and spirited playmate for Marsha, who adored their rough and tumble ways. But Marsha’s folks made what seemed a reasonable choice based on my gender, and probably, my more predictable behavior. (Sorry you got stuck with me, Marsha!) I felt very grownup wearing that dress to dinner at the Hot Springs, Arkansas resort where we stayed.

What have you heard or seen lately that reminds you of your past?

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.