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Bring Back the Good Olde Things

September 5, 2012

Bring Back the Good Olde Things

Coffee shops with jukeboxes. Elevator operators. Hula hoops. Shoe horns. LP records in handsome covers. Pantyhose. Hand-written letters. Slide rules. Real people on telephones. Sing-alongs around the piano. Tuxedo-clad jazz musicians.   Moderate republicans.

These were a few of my favorite things.  Alas, they have become passé and I am left with that “nothing’s ever gonna be the same again” feeling.

As I cope with my nagging nostalgia and withdrawal pains I wonder why we condemn to the graveyard anything that falls out of fashion.  Will I, a “mature” adult, be put on a shelf like an old hat when I become obsolete? Or will I be put out to pasture with a sign across my chest saying “vintage?”

Perhaps not. I do see some rays of hope on the horizon. For one thing, we have preserved a few old serviceable inventions over the years like the at (@) sign. Centuries old, we use this symbol today to connect us on e-mail.  And look at your Qwertyuiop keyboard. Invented in 1873, “Querty” is still widely used on computers and on the most sophisticated smart phones

Meanwhile we are bringing back some Good Olde Things like cassette tapes and the drive-in movie and jeans fastened at the waist. If we can do these things, then surely we can preserve our printed daily newspapers and bring back Louis Armstrong.  It’s a big world after all.

While I enjoy my memories, I am not some dinosaur in the digital age.  I appreciate and use many of the high-tech, high-speed services at our fingertips today. The constantly updated, crowd-sourced news, gossip, research and social media networks on the Internet provide me with the most convenient avenue I’ve ever found for procrastinating.

And I am seriously grateful for the way the web simplifies many tedious steps writers used to take when composing on paper at a typewriter.  With two strokes of the cursor, for instance, my online dictionary will define a word for me while a disembodied voice tells me how to pronounce it correctly.  When not in a rush, however, I prefer the joy of looking words up in the OED, which provides more interesting etymology.

Another gift from my guardian Muse is the instantaneous cut and paste service on my computer. I wonder how many young people realize that not long ago writers actually used scissors to cut their copy (written on paper). Then they carefully moved this copy to a better place and pasted it in with glue or scotch tape. Editors hated the tape because they couldn’t write over it.

I have mixed emotions, however, about the editing tips the Internet offers because my computer, which I call Hubert, has an attitude.  Programmed like an old-time city editor, Hubert can edit copy in a micro-second. Often he will capitalize a letter without even asking me or contest a phrase I use with such certitude I expect to see an emoticon on the screen wagging an index finger at me like a reproachful schoolmarm. But being almost human, Hubert is sometimes dead wrong.

My faithful old IBM Electric typewriter never edited me. It allowed me to make and correct my own mistakes.  I still keep this typewriter in a corner of my office, along with a flashlight and transistor radio, in case of a local or worldwide blackout.

Meanwhile, I’m so active in cyber space that I even have a blog where I can place articles that I once sold to magazines. I started this when magazine readership (and my assignments) began to decline. I still prefer the professional, well-researched stories found in many magazines to the copy popular in cyberspace which is often cherry-picked from printed sources and reproduced with a subjunctive spin.

No matter how up-to-date I become, there is one Good Olde Thing I’ll never give up: the printed book. The book, especially the paperback, is your personal friend, something you can bend, fold, smell, scribble on, earmark and tuck under your pillow at night, knowing that it will not leave you alone when you push some off button.

In my wildest dream, I will someday tell my great, great grandchildren about a new invention I’ve discovered.  “It’s called a book,” I’ll say. “And it contains wonderful stories. You open it by simply turning the title page. It’s easy to carry, and it requires no wires, batteries or electric circuits.” And in my illusion my great, great grandchildren will say: “Hey. We could open stores and sell books in places where people could discuss them over coffee, instead of always being on their tablets, smartphones, laptops and  mood boards,,,,”

Only one thing could please me more than this pipedream: The introduction of a sophisticated time machine that could recycle me.

Gwen Gibson

From → humor

  1. And a fun blog it is! Loving this, Gwen – keep on keepin’ on ( a phrase, along with ‘bitchin’ and ‘ fly by the seat of my pants’, that I’d like to bring back!)

  2. Bonnie Watkins permalink

    Delightful writing, as always, Gwen. And, I’m with you about the tactile pleasures of the book itself, a sort of “roar of the greasepaint, smell of the crowd” analogy from the theatre. As a teacher, I have also enjoyed the benefits of high tech learning, but I hope that books will never go out of style. Indeed, I hope that distance learning will never replace teachers!

  3. Jo M permalink

    Like you, Gwen, I hope books and newspapers are never completely replaced with electronic media. Who wants to read her computer over breakfast or take it to bed with her? Unfortunately, the little bookstore in my Ohio town of 11,000 has gone out of business, as have the two bookstores in the mall of the nearest small city. I now have to drive 50 minutes to Dayton or an hour to Columbus to experience the delight of browsing a real live bookstore.

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