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Someone posted this on my personal Facebook the other night and I looked at it for a moment or two. Certainly it was funny, as some things on Facebook currently are.
It was a simple list of things that, if you still had in your house, you most definitely were old.
Some of the examples were quite obvious. If you have a home telephone and not just a cellphone, you might be old. We do.
If you have a sewing machine or a typewriter, you might be old. We don’t have a sewing machine, but we do have a typewriter, an electric one actually, and it still works.
The list went on to include things like VHS tapes and VCRs, both of which we have, but also music CDs and DVD movies.
At the rate this list was going, my wife and I were aging at an alarming rate and our house had more antiquities than King Tut’s tomb. I also have a turntable and a few dozen records.
My wife lamented the fact that we no longer have a radio in our kitchen. She likes to listen to music and most of the time just uses a streaming radio app on her phone. Sometimes, there is just too much going on in the kitchen to worry about dropping a small cellphone into whatever she is preparing. I like pineapple upside down cake a lot. I can tell you it tastes better without the secret ingredient of an iPhone.
We went shopping for a radio and discovered it’s simply not as easy as running out to the store and buying one. A simple, one-speaker, AM/FM radio is an electronic unicorn. I joked that she needed to get a big boom box to use her ancient CDs, and much to my dismay, it has gone the way of the Victrola.
Here in our town, which is filled with antique shops, it is actually easier to buy a Victrola than a small radio for the kitchen. I suggested this, and my wife cocked her head like the RCA dog and gestured at me in a way that cannot be detailed in a family newspaper.
We have made some concessions. Our television is relatively new and quite large. We have a Blu-ray player and surround sound. We each have an iPhone, and we have found we use the phones more than our computers. We no longer have a desktop computer and each of us has a laptop. I use mine mainly for writing the column and use my phone for pretty much everything else.
We also have the above-mentioned home telephone and typewriter. The telephone gets used more than the typewriter, but I can’t quite give up either. The telephone is cordless and push-button. At one time, we had a rotary dial phone, but my wife complained that the ringer would wake the dead.
I have it under reasonable authority that it could be heard in an apartment two stories up from us in Baltimore. The kid on the third floor thought it was a fire alarm and was moments away from calling the fire department when my wife explained it was the telephone.
The ringtone on my cellphone is an “old-fashioned” telephone and my wife gives me a dirty look whenever I get a call. I think the next time someone asks for my phone number, I’m gonna give them the number with the exchange at the beginning.
“What’s your phone number?”
For those of you too young to remember, the exchange was always written out like that with the first two letters capitalized. MU stood for 68, so “Murdock Six” was actually “686.” My grandfather had a phone that had the number stamped on the center of the dial. VA5-0354. It was read “Valley Five, Oh Three Five Four”. I’ll let you figure out what the VA stood for in the number.
I think it’s funny that the people posting these things on Facebook are all under 30. A lot of them don’t know what great things some of these “antiques” were. Those who only know internet chat would be quite surprised to realize that a party line telephone was pretty much a chat room, but with live people talking.
If you kept quiet, you could listen to what the neighbor next door was telling the woman down the street. Gossip could get spread pretty quickly that way. Now you just have to wait until you read the newspaper to find out that my wife baked her cellphone in a pineapple upside down cake.
Joe Weaver, a native of Baltimore, is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.