Monday, May 11, 2009

Remember the Good Old Days?

What I'm reading: Broken Prey, by John Sandford.

Yesterday, we spent our usual Sunday morning at Panera with friends. We were talking about getting rid of "stuff", and what we were finding as we went through our "stuff" and the conversation segued to "I remember when…"

Both the men are scientists, and they were discussing the advent of the calculator that could do simple math. Now, how many people can do any sort of math, much less complex calculations, without a calculator. But then, a small machine that could extract a square root was a marvel. We came from the slide rule days. Anyone else remember those 8-foot slide rules mounted above the chalk board in math class?

I can still see Miss Rose marching back and forth in a Vanna White manner as she moved the slide and the hairline gizmo and showed us how to multiply, divide, and find things like sines, cosines, and logarithms. I still remember looking those up on tables in a book. I think math homework took a lot longer in those days.

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And phones. Leonard Nimoy tells a story of being on a street corner when his phone rang. He pulled it from his pocket, flipped it open to answer, and passersby pointed, saying, "Beam me up, Scotty." Or what about Uhura's earpiece – Bluetooth?

Or television sets. Our first television was housed in a piece of furniture, although the screen itself was probably no more than twelve inches across (and not square.) It was powered by tubes, and repairmen were called out to replace them as they burned out.

Another memory – lettering charts. No Powerpoint in those days. They used rapdiograph pens and Leroy lettering sets to label their charts. As a matter of fact, our son owes his name to one long session where my husband was creating graphs. The X axis was months of the year, and hubby was abbreviating, using only the first letter of each month, on countless graphs. He came home that day and said, "If it's a boy (another 'good old days' thing—no ultrasound, You didn't know what you were going to get until birth day), we're going to name it Jason, because I've been writing it all day.

July August September October November.

I've got another pickup scheduled for Friday, this one by the Salvation Army. And I've "freecycled" my sewing machine, and a modest collection of LP records from the 60's. While it's true that one of those records might have some value, I opted to let someone else discover the possible treasure. They were all very well-worn. Nothing pristine, and we don't even have a turntable anymore. We'd copied most of them to cassette tapes, and now have them on CD or on our iPods. Not worth moving.

But yes, there's always the possibility that we're giving away something that would have been worth the trouble of researching value, advertising, shipping to a buyer. My father got rid of my brother's Lionel train set, and there was a run on them after they stopped making them. We let our kids play with their Barbies and Star Wars toys. Probably the biggest "oops" was when my folks tossed two pictures they'd had framed and hung in our childhood bedroom. They were freebies—a gift from a friend who was an artist, and he worked for Walt Disney creating animation cells. We had a picture of Pluto and Donald Duck that were original cells, and probably would be worth a pretty penny today.

My lazy streak says it's easier to type a one line header on an email and wait for someone to come take it away. Today I've gotten rid of a sewing machine that hasn't been touched in over 15 years, two Reebok slides leftover from a short-lived exercise fad, an ice cream freezer not used since the kids left home, and a box of cookbooks and recipes that haven't been used in at least a decade. I have enough recipes in the collection I'm keeping that if I wanted, I could have something different every day for the rest of my life. But I won't—we have our normal favorite meals, and although I try new stuff from time to time, I've found that reading cookbooks or even watching cooking shows, something I did endlessly years ago, merely results in spending too much time thinking about food, which leads to too much eating, which means I have to either spend more time at the Y or give up chocolate.

So, what do you remember from your personal 'good old days'?

Tomorrow, my guest is author Catherine Kean talking about dealing with her muse. Be sure to come back. She's giving away an autographed copy of one of her books – winner's choice – to one lucky commenter.

And don't forget my May contest. I'm finding all sorts of items to put into the prize package – and who knows. Maybe someday one of them will be a priceless collectible.


Emma Lai said...

My favorite past time was roller skating...not blading. My feet have never even been in a pair of rollerblades. We had a console t.v. that my parents won for going to some sales pitch for houses in the middle of nowhere...of course that place is now a major suburb of Houston. Then of course there was my first computer, which was one of the original T.I.s and was hooked to the television.

Terry Odell said...

Emma, yes, we too went roller skating -- we took the kids during the resurgence of rinks in the 70's. I recall those early computers -- and they used casette tapes, not floppy disks.

Tonya Renee Callihan said...

I try to remember the good old days as much as I can. As you grow up things change so much, or maybe you stop viewing things the way you did as a child. But I remember what it used to be like and I think that helps with my writing as well. Ah, the good days!!!

Terry Odell said...

Tonya, when you think that there are kids out there who have never seen a typewriter, or a record...

Milk in glass bottles? Delivered by the milkman? With crimped paper tops and cardboard seals?

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Terry,
Oh yes the good old days. When you could go out and leave your front door wide open and nothing was ever stolen. You could walk about at night and not be violated by some thug. And small things made you happy. My first doll's pram was a shoe box which I pulled along by a piece of string.
Sigh sigh Sigh

Terry Odell said...

Ah, yes, Margaret. Toys in those days didn't need batteries. Just some imagination.