Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Saturday Seven: Gone and (Nearly) Forgotten Stuff

During my travels this week I passed through some off-the-beaten-path areas that had clearly seen better days. Old gas stations, run down general stores, and dilapidated farm equipment, looking tired and simply rusting into the ground, slowly becoming one with the Earth once again. Being a thinker by nature, I found myself pondering why people allow things like this to remain. Wouldn't it be better if things were torn down, destroyed and forgotten? The answer was likely a combination of reasons-small towns without a budget to demo and rebuild, owners who had long passed away, or perhaps even a desire to cling onto some elements of the past. Maybe people in some towns don't want everything shiny and new. With so many things in our world constantly changing, maybe people don't want to forget everything from the past. This got me thinking about all sorts of things that have gone by the way-side in our nation. Which brings me to another scintillating edition of:
The Saturday Seven: Gone and (Nearly) Forgotten Stuff

#1: S&H Green Stamps. (Also known as "Green Shield Stamps") were a form of trading stamps from the 1930s through the late 1970s. Customers would receive stamps at the checkout counter of retailers such as supermarkets, department stores, and gas station, which could later be redeemed for products in the catalog. Customers would save up their Green Shield Stamps for a special item they saw in a catalog. There were even S&H Green Stamp redemption stores. Wow-that goes back.
#2 The 8 Track Cassette and Player: The precursor to the more modern mini-cassette. Viewed as a hip way to take your favorite music on-the-go, the 8 track tape was so much easier than those pesky vinyl albums.
#3 The Encyclopedia: No explanation needed, but can you even imagine buying a huge set of books that are out of date before the traveling salesman could even ring your doorbell? Wikipedia and the Internet pretty much killed the old fashioned hard-cover reference series.

#4 The Typewriter: I had one up through college, but they just seem SO ANCIENT these days.
#5 The Mimeograph: These babies predate the "Xerox" copier. I vividly remember these when I was going to school. The nuns would write out tests on a special paper, which would be placed on the round drum. Then you would manually turn the drum which would "print" copies in a hideous purple ink.

#6 The Percolator Coffee Pot: all I can think of is my grandmother making coffee and seeing a brown liquid bubble up at the top through that tiny clear plastic cap. It also makes me think of Maxwell House Coffee, particularly "Cora" (the waitress aka The Wicked Witch of the West) who rekindled her career as the friendly woman at some diner in the Maxwell House commercials. I knew who she really was, and her coffee scared me.

#7 Rabbit Ears TV Antenna: We had to get all four channels as best we could. These helped even get the pesky UHF and PBS stations
Bonus item: White Out Liquid Paper: Not nearly as old as some items above, but I remember using this stuff like crazy. The usefulness of this stuff pretty much dropped to nothing when those pesky computers with "word perfect" and "word processing" became the office standard.
So the point is, not everything old is bad. Sometimes it's good to be reminded of old things. Things that have outlived their popularity or usefulness. It makes us appreciate the advances and conveniences we have today.
-Rick Rockhill


marlupe said...

I remember my Mom saving S and H green stamps to buy a new tv set. It was HUGE.We also bought a Tupperare set one year too. Great post.

bunnygirl said...

I must be showing my age, because I remember all those things! The only one that wasn't a staple in my house growing up (other than the mimeograph which lived at the school, of course) was the rabbit ears. Didn't need 'em in the city. Both sets of grandparents had them, though.

Cape Cod has always been super-picky about the appearance of things, so TV signal towers were in short supply, and there was no cable back then. But at least you could pick up a few Boston stations and watch a Red Socks game or Zoom (a popular Boston kids' show of the '70s). The beach was always more fun, though.

In rural New Mexico, where my other grandparents lived, you were doomed to snowy Shirley Temple movies that cut out from time to time, and that was WITH the rabbit ears and a few of my Catholic grandma's prayers and blessings! We kids watched the trains go by instead. At least they were reliable. :-)

Scott said...

One of my fondest memories of elementary school was the teacher handing out pages fresh from the Mimeograph machine. As soon as she would mine to me I would put it up to my nose to smell the fresh ink. LOVED it!

somewhere joe said...

My grandmother saved green stamps for years to buy a complete silver table service for eight. Very good silverplate, too, still in its original mahagony case. The pieces seem to glow with all the diligence that she invested in that acquisition, now a family heirloom.

Sling said...

I got a cool stopwatch from the S&H store when I was a kid...3 1/2 books of stamps.
those were the days.
..and do you remember the Helm's bakery trucks?

Canadian flake said...

So does it make me old if I admit that I remember all of these things and have USED a number of them?? I grew up next to a dairy store that actually delivered bottled milk in these big milk vans...lmao. Guess that REALLY makes me old..


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