Disappearing America

Disappearing America

: Terry Teachout says that 11 years ago he read Going, Going, Gone: Vanishing Americana about the obsolete of postwar America. He’s calling for an updated version, for among the thing he no longer uses are:

  • How much of your list speaks to the level of your affluence rather than the changing times? Something tells me that poor people still watch commercials. Maybe you need to spend a little less time running between Manhattan and affluent NJ suburbs. There’s a whole world out there….

  • Jenny… Is there a PC lense to any discussion.
    Guess what: I don’t own a TiVo (because I keep on waiting for my damned cable company to offer one). I use a remote control. Even POOR people have remote controls! And even before remote controls, you know what rich and poor people did during the commercials: We went to the crapper. Everybody has crappers these days, even my family from up in the holler in West Virginia.
    And, by the way, that was Terry’s point, not mine.
    Go have your morning cup of coffee.

  • Leslie

    Just as a data point, from out here in the red state of Indiana:
    1. I own a 2004 Ford Focus ZX3 5-speed manual transmission. I specifically requested manual transmission.
    2. There was a massive ice storm out here in January, electricity was out for a week in a lot of places. If people didn’t have phones with cords, they were SOL, because the cordless phones were useless.
    3. Can you take your DVR to a friend’s house to share a recording? (Neener, I got my DVR from Comcast just last week. :) Like, OMG!!1!!! It can record *two channels at once*. I’m in geek-toy heaven.)
    4. Christmas cards will never go out of style.
    5-7. Okay, you got me there.
    8. I have bar soap (Lever 2000) in my bathtub as I type.
    9. I have two aerosol cans under my kitchen sink.
    10. Half a point here, our downtown had a blow-out Mardi Gras party this year, and has had a series of successful outdoor/street music concerts. (I saw Peter Frampton and Kansas!) But otherwise, yeah, it’s pretty feeble.
    11. There’s a very successful, long-lived local hardware store visible out my back window. In fact it outlived the big chain hardware store which had previously been located across the street…
    12. Have you seen that picture of James Lileks from the 70’s? Nuf said.
    13. Well, one should have a backup net connection in case one’s (4MB/sec) cable modem connection goes blooey, shouldn’t one?
    Now, local *grocery* stores are indeed obsolete. And TV antennas have gone the way of the dodo too I believe. Also “major” TV networks. I can’t believe I can remember a time when there were only 3 channels (plus the grainy UHF independant station and PBS).

  • How about:
    :Water from the tap that hasn’t been filtered.
    :Phone books
    :Bank tellers (well, almost never)
    :Cameras that use film
    :Video cameras that use VHS tapes
    :Pay phones, phone cards, hotel phones (my cel phone does it all, nationwide)
    :Traveler’s checks

  • Keith Simmons

    Car people still have cars with manual transmissions. (Corvette, Mustang, 911, and so on)

  • rastajenk

    Looks like snarkiness will not go out of style too soon. :-)
    You know one industry that still seems to cling to old ways? Dry cleaning. I have not yet seen a dry cleaner that uses barcoding, computer-generated receipts, or anything else that may have come into retail fashion in the last 10-15 years, or more. Still handwritten tickets stuck in metal-flapper organizers, just like 50 years ago, and cash registers from an office-suppy flea market.

  • And now a comment on the list from the rest of us who aren’t fortunate enough to have a bazillion gadgets (people who make less than $25,000/yr) and/or work in a corporate office that does (you know, those of us who work for smaller manufacturers, in the service industry, etc):
    Newspapers and magazines on paper? Great if you’re lucky enough to afford a high speed connection and not be stuck on dialup. The vast majority of us down here on earth, however, still get ink on our fingers, and while magazines dedicated to news and politics might be just as easily read online, everything else (food and hobby magazines spring readily to mind) are so far better available and more easily read in paper format.
    USPS is still cheaper than UPS and FedEx. To those of us in the groundlings corps, such things matter.
    Switching to all-DVD music is great – if you can find it, and you can afford to make the transition (again, there’s that pesky money issue).
    Yeah, those of us who can’t afford TiVO usually have remotes, but flicking channells during commercials is a bit too ADD for most of us.
    Floppy disks vs online backup? Great, if you’ve got a place to do the backup, can afford it, have the connection, etc. Again, it’s a money issue.
    “Water cooler” shows go in cycles. Don’t write them off yet because there’ll be another one coming down the pike soon enough (if “Desperate Housewives” already hasn’t).
    So many of these things you and your commenters are slamming as obsolete (Christmas cards, knobs on washroom sinks, ice cube trays, cameras that use film, 411, etc) come down to $$$$. Those of you who have it (or work someplace that does), great. But those of us out here in the Great Unwashed won’t be giving these thing sup anytime soon. You’ve hit on a class issue, Mr. Jarvis, and I really think it should be acknowledged as such. I am appalled to read that you and some of your commenters seem to think that because things are changing for *you* up on the financial Mt Olympus, it must be for the rest of us. Come down and hang on the broke side of town for a while.

  • Still manage to see ketchup in glass bottles at restaurants, but the days of the manual transmission are numbered (and that coming from someone whose owned nothing but sticks). The advent of the hybrid propulsions sytems and the potential of hydrogen based electrical propulsion system for personal transportation will automatically (pun intended) push the manual tranmission into the dumpster.

  • IndyJones1967

    Oh, and Mr. Jarvis, snarky comments about others “needing coffee” should be beneath you. It was uncalled for. Also, I don’t know about WV, but out here in IN “crapper” isn’t a fit word for polite conversation. I’d suggest you were the one who needed coffee, not Jenny, but I’d prefer not to sink to your level.

  • Kat

    I wonder if Liberalism belongs on that list???

  • P. Ingemi

    Its amazing to look at this list to see how much I still use and intend to still use.
    Working backwards.
    1. customer service, I work tech support so that is my job and people not only use us but LOVE that they don’t get a computer (www.lightfrog.com)
    2. I don’t even have a cell phone, don’t want one, #1 I’m cheep, #2 There I time when I don’t want to be bothered.
    3. VHS. I’ve been picking up favorite movies for $1 on VHS and still have all the stuff I enjoyed and taped 20 years ago, although I don’t use a VHS camera.
    4. Not willing to drop the $200 and don’t want to tie up a PC to look at pictures.
    5. Only when I can’t find the phone book (yes I still use that)
    6. Bank Tellers, not only do I use them I walk in instead of driving through, when I have a problem or if I ever have something stolen , they will notice and remember me, its call a “community”
    7. I use tap water whenever possible, My wife does’t go for it herself
    8. I keep a modem as an emergency backup, you should too, just in case.
    9. The local hardware store I go to has been owned by the same family for 60 years I find their stuff doesn’t wear out as soon as I buy it, and it is like a coffee shop everybody knows everyone there.
    FYI I live in a city in central mass, not in the boonies.
    10. Downtown, best pizza and library and kids bowling league
    11. Bar soap, I can rub it where I need it.
    12. Aersol cans, Don’t use much
    13. Christmas cards still get em still post em
    ….to be continued after mass.

  • How ’bout specialty bar soaps? Jeff, you don’t pamper your complexion?
    But gone except for garage sales: clip earrings.
    Gone except in really pricey stores, stiletto heeled shoes.
    And except in oversexed stores, garter belts.
    It’s not just class, see, it’s sex, too.
    Clothes lines. ( I love the smell of sun-dried towels, myself)

  • tb

    Jeff, fun post.
    I suspect that wall mounted TVs will takeover in the next 5 years for those of us with cable and sattelite. I agree that many of these items are for those able to afford but here are some more I can think of.
    Handwritten letters
    Paper Maps
    Asking directions (yahoo maps wins every time, I learned that from reading this blog while in phoenix giving a seminar and getting incorrect directions from mapquest)
    TV 6:00 News
    running hot water till it actually gets hot
    paper checks
    talking to loan officers
    steering tractors in a field
    marker arms on corn planters
    ethernet wired homes (its gone wireless as fast as that fad began)

  • Coverletters. When you can post a job online and get 5000 responses a day, who has time to read all these things? Plus, they all say the same thing anyway. (Most people just make their coverletter a prose version of the resume… no need to read a resume twice.) I think resumes will fall away, too. If you have more than five years experience, you’re probably getting your job through a network and a recommendation anyway, and maybe in another few years, we’ll all keep our vitals on our blogs and instead of a resume, you’ll just send a link to your blog.

  • Porches, rocking chairs! and

  • Derek

    Pundits. And Kat. Good riddance.

  • tb

    Terry Teachout also listed dinner parties, not sure I completely understand that one, but made me think, what about Pancake Breakfasts or working in the town you live in, or for that matter going to the office everyday (as opposed to telecommuting)

  • : Stick shifts.
    Another nay vote– if it’s not manual, you’re not really driving. That’s never going to change, and there will always be people who enjoy driving (zoom zoom!) as opposed to merely transporting themselves. QED.
    Disclosure: Yep, five speed– wouldn’t own it otherwise.

  • von

    :Vinyl Records
    :Board Games
    It isn’t a class issue I don’t think. I would bet that a very large percentage of children that come from the “lower class” are still playing Play Station games instead of Board Games these days.

  • von:
    The board game Chess may be making a comeback as a symbol. Schwarzenegger has one in his office in Sacramento. (Maybe plays on steroids.)

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Women without hideous tattoos on their lower backs.
    Phone booths.
    Sit-down pizza parlors.
    Chain grocery stores that aren’t open 24 hours.

  • Patricia

    good lists, but why do you have to handwrite envelopes?? MS Word, Tools, Envelopes and Labels!

  • Downtowns: Don’t know about your neck of the woods, Jeff, but if you ever make it out to San Diego I can show you around ours. Not only do we have a campus of the University of Rlyeh, we actually have a thriving downtown outside it.
    Board Games: Still being made, still being played. The big thing are games based on ones designed and published in Germany, such as the Settlers of Cataan series. Rail games are also big. You just need to know where to look.
    Just because the MSM looses interest in a subject doesn’t mean that subject disappears.

  • This week I’m officially going MP3-centeric. I ordered a new home CD player that plays MP3 and I’m getting an XM radio/mp3 for my car today. But, Jeff, you never should have gotten rid of your turntable …
    I own thousands of records …
    Most bought within the last couple of years. I own so much music you just can’t get digital. And analog is still a wonderful, rich and vibrant sound.
    Also, my dry cleaners doesn’t use barcodes, but other wise completely computerized.
    As for Tivo, Jeff … you don’t need to wait for your cable company. Just buy a unit, hook it up and activate the service. Double check with Tivo, but I’m pretty darn sure you don’t need to cordinate with your cable co. In fact, if you wait for that, you’ll never get Tivo. Cable is rejecting Tivo in favor of their own inferior DVR services. If you want the cadillac of DVR (tivo), then you’re on your own.

  • P Ingemi

    Continued from above,
    14. Video tape see #3 above
    15. Corded phones, have both but they don’t lose a charge and tend to connect better and aren’t bothered by other devices.
    16. Stick shifts never liked them
    17. Water cooler shows, MONK
    18. Floppies, When I ordered the new laptop I have I specifically got a floppy drive and suggest everyone else do the same, it is a small price for the emergency boot options it give you in a crash. Its and extra card when you need one to save your system.
    19. Commercials: Some of the best comedy written today is in them
    20. Blank disks My 11 year old wants a turntable, it has become chic
    21. Post office = community see #9 above
    22. Fax I cheet my wife is a school nurse I fax from there
    23. Newspapers, only when at a diner, nothing like holding them and you can read them without a pc.
    24. Ketchup in glass: you’ve got me
    25. Finally typewriters, I keep one in the closet in case the system is down.
    This could just be the difference between having kids in private schools or just a different way of thinking, but it seems to be that as long as things are working why pay money to change them, in addition I’m a big believer in not being dependant on a plug. Its amazing what you can do without if you just put your mind to it.

  • A-Reader

    Mini Backpacks!
    Thank God! Although, sometime around 2030, they will be back…

  • P Ingemi:
    Good thought about the typewriter. My office of more than 100 employees lost power and only letter to go out that day was on a typewriter, had to go into storage to get stationery. After that, everyone printed out a sheet or six of their necessary stationery to keep on hand.

  • Eileen

    Jeez. Virtually every single thing you guys list, with the possible exception of vinyl records and phone booths, are actually on the other side of the planet from being obsolete. Bizarre indeed.
    I’m having a ‘quaint, old fashioned’ dinner party tonight. I’d invite you, too, but many here appear to be too obsoletist to appreciate the concept.
    And for those who don’t think these are class, money or purely a function of where You live issues (e.g., porches, rockers, rakes (?!) sit down pizza parlors, hardware stores, 24/7 grocery stores, etc.) I’ve got news for you.

  • Eileen

    Ok, Howard. I’ll take vinyl off my two item list.

  • Like it or hate it, Desperate Housewives is a watercooler show.

  • P. Ingemi

    As far as board games, I collect them. In fact I play with a group of guys who have been playing boardgames together for 20 years.
    I always use paper checks, I don’t like my stuff stored where somebody can hack it. I’ve had to help people in that spot too much.
    I use wired for the base system and wireless for the others, but a wired system is ALWAYS more reliable
    There is a company called EAGLE GAMES that is making some excellent boardgame version of PC games such as Civlization and Age of Mythology. The games are first rate and the best part is it involves in person interaction with friends.
    Of course speaking as a guy who works most days off a laptop on a piano bench sharing a chat room with his boss and fellow on duty employees I don’t object to some of the advances of the age, I just use the ones I want for the things I like.

  • Did anyone mention this soon-to-be-obsololete concept?

  • richard mcenroe

    I’m strongly considering going back to a manual typewriter for my first drafts (scanning in for editing). I frequently find the hum of a computer waiting for me to do something irritating, and don’t like the idea of the electric company billing me while I think.
    Also, are we sure Hindu customer service operators aren’t human? I’m sure we’ve all suspected it, but it seems rude to say so unless you have proof.

  • David

    Sorry, I have a modem at home (if I need fast I go to work or the coffee shop) and both of our cars are stick and my oldest daughter learned on a stick and drives a stick. Yes, I know that stick will officially be dead in 2012, but not here. For that matter most of my students drive stick. The best hardware store in Eastern CT has just two stores (does that make it a chain?) and we have ice cube trays. No wonder you have a difficult time understanding the rest of us.
    We also send out Christmas cards with letters, here the heck do you live?
    Downtown Putnam CT (Paul Newman shops here once and awhile), Rantoul Il, Los Alamos NM, Willimantic, CT, Santa Fe NM, Champaign Il, Boulder CO, Cortez CO, Moab UT, to name a few are all vibrant, again where the heck do you live?
    Next time rather than flying over America I suggest that you drive America. Visit the red counties, we have these quaint, odd habits. You know, here I am in CT and the closest mall is about one hour away. In Los Alamos the best serious mall (yeah Santa Fe has two malls, but they stink) is 2 hours away. The best I can tell in Cortez you have to go to Denver to get to a Mall (well, perhaps Durango has one). Which reminds me, no mall in Leadville, CO. For that matter I can go from Los Alamos NM to Boulder CO and pass no Malls until Boulder (if you take the front range you pass several).
    You know, its funny, people talk about red countiers (I live in a red county in a blue state) as rubes that haven’t been abroad. I have been to Europe(lived there, twice), SE Asia, South Pacific, Carribean (taught at UVI for 3 years), Australia, and NZ.
    I have also visited 49 States (Alaska is high on my list of must sees), thousand of places where malls just don’t work, so I guess I must be a dinosaur. Sure I shop online, but I still buy local when I can.
    What is passe to you is normal for many of us.
    If I understand it, you live in NJ. Come visit us, we are three hours away.
    Boy this is a rant I wasn’t planning to write.

  • Sandy P

    –Stick shifts–
    No way, automatic is just not the same when in a 2-seater.

  • beetroot

    Put the stick shift in a special category: the fewer there are, the greater the benefit to those of us who still drive them.
    As a city driver, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to zip around some lumbering beast whose driver is obviously waiting for his automatic transmission to make a decision. Nothing brings out the zip in my Joe Schmoe Honda like a road full of grunting land yachts whose drivers are tethered to an autopilot.

  • David:
    But in White Rock there are several nice stores. And if you have cachet, take a helicopter. To Livermore.
    Of course, the net connections are incredible.

  • Human beings answering the phone at businesses
    Car CD players (satellite radio, iPod, etc., breaking into my car CD listening)
    Walkman-style portable radio (now they are all CD/MP3/insert widget here)
    Local pharmacist (I still have one, though)
    Travel agents
    Mops (Swiffering away here)
    Toilet brushes (disposable now)
    Increasingly, our local movie rental place (as more offer mail-in services)
    Products that don’t multi-task (i.e. moisturizing anitbacterial lemon hand soap is what you see now)

  • David

    Yep Ruth, but White Rock has essentially a downtown (mom and pop shops) not a mall (cant remember the name, but the restaurant in the WR area is pretty nice), you guys even want to seceed from LA.

  • Newspapers and magazines on paper. I can

  • Stick shifts!!! stick shifts are fun! I refuse to buy a car with automatic.
    I don’t have a TV and never participated in “water cooler” TV conversations anyway. Since I freelanced most of my life I could get away with that.
    When I moved to NYC I gave up a landline except for DSL. My phone # is my cell #.
    I still use bar soap, and in Manhattan we still have downtowns and local hardware stores, but Duane-Reade is becoming the inner-city version of the drug/hardware store.
    I go to bank tellers to get $10 in quarters to do laundry, but that’s a NYC thing. In fact, my apt. buildng is behind the times because many laundries use swipe cards now which you fill up at a machine.

  • “You know one industry that still seems to cling to old ways? Dry cleaning.”
    Therapists too. They still handwrite their invoices. I asked my last one to give me a nicely printed invoice on a letterhead to submit to insurance and she couldn’t do it. I wonder if she even had a computer…..

  • All: I concede the stick shifts. I LOVED my stick-shift cars. But my wife didn’t. Other men give up card* nights with the boys when they get married. I gave up my four-on-the-floor Civic.
    (*I had to say card because the comment spammers ruined the word p o k e r)

  • I gave up my huge LP collection when I moved from Phila to Austin in 92, but I recorded the rare ones onto cassette, and I still have a cassette player so I can play them. (A good thing because several of them have continued to stay out of print.)
    I listen to a lot more CDs on my computer these days than on my stereo.
    I haven’t listened to the radio since I moved to NYC, but that’s partly because reception in midtown is so crappy. I do listen to various indy stations across the nation streaming on my computer, when I’m not listening to CDs or MP3s.
    No, I do not have an iPod or any portable music. I read on the subway.
    When I moved to my new apt. last spring I didn’t bother to get phone books. I look up people on the web, maybe call 411.
    I do almost all my billpaying online, and pay for almost everything by credit card, unless it’s less than $10. I like the mileage points and the records of the transactions. I write maybe 6 checks a month, 4 of them to the antedeluvian therapist. :-)

  • von

    Howard: You couldn’t be more correct about Analog. However, that’s a whole other discussion that we could get into about digital recording these days…

  • Jeremy

    Actually, vinyl records are perhaps more popular than ever. Maybe not the major releases, but most dance music is released on vinyl, in many cases, only vinyl.
    But for most of the rest, it will take a while for those things to filter down to us non-rich people.
    Posts like this remind me why I stopped reading this blog. While more palatable than the off the wall kooks of Atrios/Kos/Oliver WIllis, the snobbery of the limosine liberals like Mr. Jarvis is amazing…

  • von

    Maybe not the major releases…
    Which makes me think of another addition:
    :Good Popular Music (I may just be getting old.)

  • Yehudit:
    small towns in red states also have laundromats with card capacity.
    You mean Katherine’s probably.

  • David

    By the way America in a sense is always disappearing. When I was a kid (now I am dating myself) Ice, icecream, milk and cheese came by truck to your door. You fixed your TV/radio by opening it up and taking all the tubes out test them at your local Drugstore. EVERYBODY who sold shakes also sold malteds, now you have to look for those stands that still do. Heck at most places kids act as if you are an alien when you ask for a malted. When you spent $0.17 for a gallon of gas the attendent checked your tires and fluids for free. Car tires had inner tubes, you get a flat and you fix the tires yourself. Most of the roads were dirt. Every major city had papers that competed by holding different political views. Pro players actually played the game rather then striking(being locked out) the season away. The list goes on. I really understood Mayberry and Leave it to Beaver, becuse, well my town was just like them (Except Mayberry didn’t have 3500 PhD physicists). Memorial day actually meant something to everybody. When there was a forest fire the whole town would turn out to fight using government leadership. Now the government thinks we are to stupid to help (yet these are the same geniouses that set a planned fire in the middle of a drought on the hottest night of the year and almost burned the entire town down).

  • The Glory of Vinyl
    I remember vinyl records. I remember the warmth of their sound. We had a name for this warmth, we called it distortion.

  • I apologize for being a little pissy, but it makes me nuts when people earning well into six figures start pontificating in life in regular America. BTW, at the university I attend I am considered as un-PC as one can be. I am the token conservative.
    However…I spend a lot of time in places where poor people go to school. Their lives are quite different from most people’s who post here. The debate over stick shifts would be laughable in many places in this country.
    Here are something that are not disappearing in impoverished urban America:
    Check cashing storefronts
    Phone cards to call long distance to relatives
    Ice cube trays
    Huge, chunky color televisions
    Antennaes for reception
    Newspapers and magazines on paper
    Printed Greyhound bus tickets

  • Well, Jenny, you used to edit a publication that played to nothing but rich people putting in Sopranos kitchens and buying ridiculous dinners. Feeling guilt for your past?

  • von

    …apologize for being a little pissy, but it makes me nuts when people earning well into six figures start pontificating in life in regular America.
    Uhh..I’m not making anywhere remotely close to six figures, and I enjoyed the post. I really don’t know why it would bother you.

  • rastajenk

    I don’t understand the animosity either. I’m a poor middle-aged white guy in middle America, but I can appreciate an innocent post about changing times. Change comes at different rates in different places, but it comes nonetheless; that’s nothing to get pissed about.

  • Syl

    Technology does dribble down to the masses eventually. I have no problem with ‘class’ in this matter. Like everything else in America, people are mobile too. Either the prices come down or you move up the ladder. Either way more Americans can avail themselves.
    What I’m MORE interested in, though, is the things that have NOT changed. Things I’ve been waiting decades for.
    Like wireless electricity.
    And stuff for housecleaning that doesn’t still require so much manual labor and time.
    And we STILL have to take our garbage out.
    And we still have to fill our gas tanks.
    And as far as computing goes, why is backup technology always behind the curve? It just can’t keep up.
    And we still have too many mosquitoes!

  • Exploded consumerism. Nothing disappears completely, it just ends up in an online museum. Some people still make buggy whips because a few people still make buggies. Some people still make books by hand.
    But when was the last time you listened to an 8-track, stored something on a floppy disk or rented a videotape? Some things do seem to be vanishing regardless of income level, and the glass ketchup bottle may be one of them. The glass shampoo bottle is even more likely. Some things vanish from the shelves, going from ubiquitous to discontinued to retro to niche to antique.

  • Pay phones, in booths and out
    Manual car windows
    Manual car anything
    Unlocking a car door with a key
    Cars without airbags, or cars without a switch to turn off the airbags.
    ZIP disks
    Cigarette machines
    Gibson’s, Woolworth’s or any other “dime store.”
    CompuServe and GEnie (although we still have AoL)
    Drinking in kids movies. Ever see “Bad News Bears?”
    Dot matrix printers. Good riddance!
    Amber screen monitors
    Broadcast TV
    Wargames that didn’t run on a computer
    Card catalogs at the library
    The RETURN key!

  • Computer games without patches
    Cheap paperbacks
    Hatchback two- door cars
    Nuclear war movies (oh wait- Terminator is, kind of)
    Herpes being a big deal (the disease of the 80’s! I wish it had been…)
    The Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature
    Car phones!
    Ad jingles. For everything.
    Computer terminals (hooked to a mainframe)
    Long distance calls
    Calculator watches!
    Full service gas
    Toaster- ovens
    Charcoal grills (I’m sure a lot of people still have them. Just no one I know)
    Flat- nosed trucks (what’s the word for it?)
    Ash trays everywhere. In cars, too!
    CB Radios. I don’t see so many antennas now.
    Gun racks. Ditto.
    Side gas tanks for trucks.
    Bar None candy bars
    Pre- salted french fries
    Mc DLT sandwich. Veggies packaged seperately from meat and bun.

  • I was quite enamored witht he work of being the queen of the suburbs and all that crap. I was a minor league somebody. But one of the reasons I left was because after a time I could see how damn stupid it was. The world was not going to be better place because I spent my time publishing photos of another multi=million dollar home renovation. After the thrill of being someone quasi-important wore off, I had to examine the work I was doing. When I did, I knew I could walk away from it.
    But now, maybe, I can do something with lasting value.
    As you can imagine, I am not the world’s most desired cocktail party guest. I have no power, no big connections, just opinions and beliefs and the actions I take that dovetail with them.

  • This colloquy made me think I should write more about this. You’re in it, so I thought I’d give you a heads up. I’ve come to this place round-aboutly. You are right about where I was.

  • Jeff,
    There’s an interesting book – The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History by David Lowenthal (Cambridge University Press, 1998) – which addresses among other things this notion of “recent heritage” and how it impacts the way we conceive of our past, present, and future.

  • bb

    : drinking fountains
    : public phones
    : numeric pagers
    : rotating lights on police cars
    : sidewalks in new neighborhoods
    : laminated paper driver’s license with nothing machine-readable
    : hand-written birth certificates (mine was, my kids’ aren’t)
    : owner-maintainable cars (all you’d need was a Chilton’s manual, ramps, and a socket set)
    I fear for the day those electronic toilets come over here from Japan. I kind of like it that, during a power outage, I can still use the corded phone and the toilet.
    Though, not at the same time.

  • Christy

    Fun post, Jeff.
    FWIW Microfiber is polyester. Good quality polyester, but polyester all the same. Do you think they changed the name because it was so non-Q?

  • You can have my stick shift when you pry it from my cold dead fingers. But you can take the ketchup away. Just say ‘salsa’ – it’s a better idea.

  • Gina Duvall

    Full service gas stations, (except in Oregon where it is illegal to pump your own gas…)
    Drive in theaters. (There are less than 500 in the US, today.)
    Record Players (Actually, they may be making a come-back as some of us would like to be able to listen to our history and can’t find it on CD.)
    The smallpox vaccine.
    The time of day phone number.
    Wind-up Watches.
    Rotary Dial Phones.
    Hard wired phones.
    Dime Stores, (Woolworths, Kreskes, TG&Y, etc.)
    S&H Green Stamps. (Actually, “Greenpoints” are available, but you get them online – you don’t lick and paste them into a little book.)
    Card Catalogues
    Bicycles without more than one gear.
    Bicycles with brakes on the pedals.
    Big Red. Nehi Grape.
    Cloves Gum…(Actually, I rarely manage to find some Cloves, Black Jack, etc. I buy tons when I do.
    Go-Go Boots. (Oops. Delete this. Condi just brought them back into style.)
    Phone numbers with words – not just numbers…
    White-sidewall tires.
    Cars you can work on in your backyard.
    Outdoor toilets. (not port-a-potties…)
    Wringer Washers.
    Crank-starting trucks, tractors and cars.
    RFD addresses.
    Party lines.
    Operator Assisted Phone Calls.
    The Ice Man.
    The Milk Man.
    Three-D Movies.
    Vacuum Tubes in t.v.’s and radios.
    Tail-fins on cars.
    Ditto Machines.
    Carbon Copies.
    More to follow, but work hasn’t gone away. ROFL

  • Until automated customer service line’s can read my mind, I will continue to press 0 at every menu option. Anyone who has ever called Dell will agree with me.

  • I shamelessly reblogged this piece, and have a few items of my own to add (apologies if there are any redundancies):
    * CRT computer monitors
    * Travel agencies (physical, not online)
    * Paper memos in offices
    * Boys without earrings
    * Restaurants with dress codes
    * Mom-and-Pop bookstores
    * Howard Johnson’s restaurants (before Mickey D’s, that where every kid wanted to eat)
    * Full-service gas stations (where they washed your windows and checked your oil)
    * Schools without police officers and drug-sniffing dogs
    * AM radio stations that played Top 40 music (or any kind of music, for that matter)

  • youmi

    I’ll add these:
    cell phone that has one color
    paper dictionary
    roller skates