Do you know what these are?
Increasingly, I am nostalgic for things left behind during childhood, replaced for better or for worse, leaving only memories of the way things used to be and stories to tell my children.
Growing up, I sharpened pencils by whittling them into points with a penknife. Eventually, we got a school-like apparatus, mounted on the wall, that ground pencils down to a point, and sometimes just ate them up. I always thought it was fun to whirr the pencil sharpener until my pencil was barely long enough to use, but had a wicked point. (Once I even threw my sharp pencil at a boy and it stuck in his leg.) Nowadays, I’ve gone through 3 or 4 home versions…battery operated or simple hand-held pencil-case ones. They all break. I’m back to whittling again. It works. It’s free. I no longer have a growing collection of dulled, unusable pencils, gathered from endless birthday parties’ gift bags.
Last weekend, my teenagers had a sleepover and they were playing Queen’s “Somebody to Love” on the iPod, or iPhone, or some piece of iThing. I said “Wow! That was my first record, a 45!” I was silenced by blank stares. Oh, you can still buy a turntable if you want, but these days, nobody has a full-fledged stereo system anymore…not the type of stereo system I grew up with – a deck for the tapes, a deck for the radio, a tabletop for the record player (notice I did not call it a turntable), 2-4 speakers hard-wired and placed around the room (or at least as far as the cords could reach). Nowadays, everybody has their own iPod, downloadable music, for here or to go. Nice. No more $700 or more stereo systems taking up space on a dedicated stand. No more buying albums and recording them, song by song, for hours at a time, with finger poised to hit ‘stop’ when the song begins to fade.
Helmets, boo! I feel claustrophobic in a helmet, having never been required to wear one in childhood, let alone elbow pads, kneepads, shin guards, or padded biking pants. Just get on the damn bike and ride! If you crashed, you walked the bike home with bloody knees, only to get in trouble for damaging the bike. Once, somebody stole my bike and dumped it 2 days later. My dad filed a police report for it, and I was too embarrassed to go with him to claim a bike that a thief didn’t even want!
Everything that people call ‘retro’ today is what I called regular stuff. I grew up with the silver (fake) Christmas tree; I sat at my Great Aunt Biddy’s (real name Ida) kidney-shaped formica table with gold specks and ribbed aluminum banding. After she died, my dad used it. After he died, I begged my family to hold it for me, and two years later, I shipped it back with me. Made in 1967, I use it as my kitchen table and, every day, I remember being 7. I remember my mom, grandmother and aunts playing cards late into the night, while we watched TV until we fell asleep, only to wake up at 1 a.m. to walk several blocks home in the freezing cold.
Did you know that TVs used to have dials and sat in cabinets with closing accordion doors to blend in with the furniture? The channels only went from 2 to 13, and I probably never knew what “U” was for.
Does anybody even remember typewriters with carriage returns, and using carbon paper? These were the days before copiers.
This post can’t possibly cover all the changes from 1963 to today, with a detailed list of their effect on me, but oh…I wish I could.
For some things, I run willingly into the 21st century (like 200 mostly useless satellite channels, but about 20 really interesting ones) and cordless expandable phones, so I only need one jack but can have extensions all over the house.
For other things, I’m either staying old school or reverting back to old school, since new school is no improvement at all.
“Like what?” you may say.
I think I shall pick up the phone, and say “hello”.
I’ll mail my bills, with checks inside, using stamps. (I don’t miss licking the glue on the back of stamps, however.)
I’ll send hand-written invitations and thank you notes through the mail.
I’ll continue to buy books and read them end-to-end, proudly displaying them on my bookshelf when done, so they can get dusty and cause me more housework.
I shall drive to my favorite stores, buy presents, wrap, box and ship them, for birthdays, Christmas, and other special occasions.
Like shoelaces. The ability to tie shoelaces has gone away. How will one ever work up into loop knots and slipknots?
Like the stories we all heard from our grandparents (or mothers and fathers), who used to walk two miles in the snow, without shoes, to school…the days of old. They’re gone, baby. Gone.