About four, maybe five years ago, one of my friends showed up to our Friday night session with a big stack of rule books and a bunch of boxes full of miniatures. His neighbor had given him a couple boxes full of old 1st and 2nd Edition AD&D gear, and he was talking about starting up a game with some guys he knew from school. (We were engaged in another campaign at the time.)
I flipped through the books and started making fun of them. Class-as-race? Ridiculous. Individual XP charts for each class? Laughable. That weird system of saves? Archaic. The organization was impenetrable, the prose awful, the art hideous-to-non-existent. 3e, I knew from reading forums on the internet, was a great improvement.
That was back when I didn't know any better. Heck, even my friend didn't know any better. Based on, if I remember correctly, some vague knowledge of the Outdoor Survival Map, he explained to us how OD&D had been "a board game," where you moved your pieces around on hexes. What we didn't know about the games we filled in with crazy rumors and misinformation from other new-edition-playing twerps like us.
Then I started getting into RPG blogging. I started reading Jeff's Gameblog, and from there found Trollsmyth, Grognardia, and a bunch of other guys who knew what the heck they were talking about when it came to the older stuff. Not that any of them were, or are, gurus, but they knew that the older editions were fun, that 3e wasn't intrisincally superior to any of them, and they were interested in figuring out exactly what it was that made those old games tick. Luckily, that mix of enthusiasm and curiosity was enough to get through my idiot ideas on the subject, and I ended up coming along for the ride.
Now, I collect those old hardbacks, play in two Labyrinth Lord games, built my own Swords & Wizardry megadungeon, and have pretty much sworn off running 3e, at least for the next few years. I've taught people to play Swords & Wizardry who have never played an edition of D&D before in their lives. It's some of the best gaming I've done in my life.
A few final words, from Trent Foster:
Yeah, there are some "old guys" in our midst who actually were around back in 197x playing D&D in this style, watched the game/hobby move away from them, and are refreshed to see a new crowd pick up on what they liked about the game in the first place. But more of us are people who started playing the game later, after this style of play was already in decline, or had even disappeared altogether from the mainstream/commercial rpg scene, and are so interested in this style and approach to play now in large part because we didn't get to experience it then.