Young people, even middle-aged people, don’t usually spend time thinking about growing old. I’m not sure why. However, sometime around my middle 60s I thought it might be depressing when old age arrived and that I might need cheering up then. How could I achieve that I wondered.

Then it occurred to me that I should stock up on funny movies to provide a little laughter in my old age. So I began to think about films I had seen that made me laugh or at least smile. I traveled to buy a few in Boston, back in the days when there was no Amazon or internet buying. I can remember the joy of standing at a long counter at Tower Records gazing at the huge choice of movies and records I could buy.

I tucked all these films away in a closet, but recently, as I tired of watching Mash and Golden Girls and Everybody Loves Raymond over and over during the pandemic lockdown, I went looking for them and thought I’d share this time capsule of laughter.

Shirley Valentine was on the list, perhaps because it is about a woman with my name but more likely because it is about a sweet woman in a mid-life crisis. Also, most of the film is about her journey to Greece, a country I never visited during my travels. It was made in 1989, when I was 63 and long past a middle-aged crisis — apparently there are no more crises after you turn 60. I do have a couple of friends who rediscovered romance when they reunited with men they had known in their youth, but it is unusual.

I also bought a film made from a book I had loved reading when it was published in 1983. I was 57 at the time. It is called Never Cry Wolf, a semi- autobiographical book written by the prolific Canadian writer, Farley Mowat. It is full of giggles as the hero sets up camp near a wolf den in a remote section of Canada to try and prove for the government that the wolf population is decimating the herds of caribou. Trying to live like the wolves do, he learns to mark his territory by peeing on the bushes surrounding his camp, and adds mice to his diet to emulate what keeps the wolves alive. There are more laughs as he fails to prove what he is being paid to prove.

Last of the Blonde Bombshells was a good choice for two reasons — first because Judi Dench is the star and she is my favorite actress. For several years I had watched her TV sit-com called As Time Goes By. In the movie, Judy Dench plays the part of a recent widow thinking back on her life during WWII. As a teenager, her character had played the saxophone in an all-girl orchestra — popular in those days because most of the male musicians were away at war. I remember those days as I was also a teenager during WWII. The music of that era is still with me, and the film attracted me because there are flashbacks to her early days playing that music. How many remember the crazy song Mairzy Doats or Rum and Coca Cola?

One day her junior high school granddaughter mentions that her class is going to hold a dance. They want live music but have not found an orchestra yet. Judi Dench’s character has the idea of resurrecting her band for a reunion and to play at the school dance. She seeks them out but it is not easy as one is dead, one is an alcoholic, one is in a nursing home and another lives in a castle in Scotland.

City Slickers came out in 1991, with Billy Crystal as the star in a story of three male friends who take a male-only vacation together. They choose a western ranch as a symbol of their masculinity and a way to get away from their women. The trip includes a cattle drive across the southwest led by Jack Palance, who makes a good villain.

The trip has its dangerous moments and surprisingly touching moments when city slicker Billy Crystal delivers a calf during the cattle drive. I discovered recently that they had to use six calves to shoot the scene. To Mr. Crystal’s credit, he made sure that those calves all lived out their lives on a farm.

I then chose a film about three hours long, and only because Judy Dench stars in it. Behaving Badly is the story of a woman whose husband, after 20 years of marriage, leaves her for a younger woman. She accepts this maturely and tries to get on with her life, but after a few years she begins to get attracted to other men and decides not to be so proper. She behaves badly and brings comedy into play. It wasn’t the funniest film I watched, but I always enjoy Judi Dench.

All in all, it was an entertaining look into the past, both the movies and who I was when I watched them.

Shirley Mayhew lives in West Tisbury.