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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: May 5, 2021

Also "Gone Away"

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,



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Some time back I did a column on things that were "going away." It included sets of formal china, wine glasses with stems, checkout line "TV Guides" and other things that were widespread and common when I was younger, and now are "endangered species."

Here's another edition of things I have noted since then that also seem to be "going away."

" Paper maps: I LOVE the navigation device on my phone. It's simple to use and can work as an "audio" guide, so I don't have to take my eyes off the road. I never get lost anymore, because while it occasionally does mess up, it is simple to extricate myself. Paper maps were indispensable at one time, but they were also subject to getting out of date. They never folded up right, tore and got coffee stains on them. Worst of all they were troublesome to use unless you were safely pulled over. We still have them in the truck, just in case we venture to the "no cell reception zones." Don't know that we've used them since we got cell phones.

" Gunny sacks: These were coarsely woven fiber bags that commodities like potatoes used to come in. Every farm had stacks of them, they were so ubiquitous that a specific picnic game called a "sack race" was created around them. All kinds of secondary uses were found for them. I can't remember the last time I saw one. And unfortunately, some of what has replaced them is single-use plastic, the last thing our planet needs.

" Phone books: I am unsure if we have one in our house. The "replacement," in a lot of cases, is on-line search engines that give you dozens of options, like "police records," when what I want is a street address to send someone a sympathy card. No, I don't want to pay for a one-time access for this information. Nor do I want any police records. I miss humble phone books.

" Savings bonds: When my granddaughter was born, I wanted to get her a savings bond. Apparently, as of 2012 you can no longer buy them unless you want an electronic one. So to buy a bond you must set up an on-line account; the recipient must also have a bonds account. If you are not a fan of spending time on a computer, bonds probably aren't too appealing anymore.

" Wallet photos: My wallet is worn out. As I was mulling a replacement, I remembered the wallets I used to have in my purse " all with a bound section of plastic sleeves for my photos. Of course you'd have pictures of your significant other along with your children, if you had any; or your friends, and probably a dog or cat. Now, we just whip out our phones and have dozens and dozens of photos, enough to bore someone else for hours. I don't carry a single hard copy photo with me.

" Land line telephones: We dispensed with our land line when we moved. Literally no one we wanted to talk to called on that phone. All our friends, relatives and coworkers used our cell phones. Once a week or so we'd delete all the messages on the land line answering machine from politicians, hucksters, and other organizations or individuals who chose to try and interrupt our lives. Don't miss it, although now we get some of the same trash on our cell phones. One big advantage of the cell phone: I rarely miss a call that is important, because my phone is always at hand.

" Red wooden barns: These are an endangered species. Steel pole buildings have become cheaper and don't require paint like wooden barns. But there is no doubt a well-maintained red wood barn has a charm, warmth and nostalgia that the pole buildings, regardless of how they are "prettied up," will simply never have. (As an aside, my husband and I have two different terms for our building. I call it the "barn," since it is the official residence of a horse. My husband calls it "the shed," because that is the primary use of the building for him " a storage place for machinery like the tractor and lawn equipment. Once our remaining elderly horse passes to greener pastures, I'll start calling the building a shed but not before.) Every time I drive by a well-maintained classic barn, it's like seeing an old friend. And every time I pass one that is neglected, sagging and in danger of collapse, it's like watching an old friend who is slowly dying. I think "there goes another one."

But at least the red wooden barns are the one item on this list where there is hope for a revival. I've seen magazine articles about people who have saved an old classic barn and turned it into a luxury residence. The amount of effort and money needed is eye-popping but so are the results. You won't see any well-cared for herds of 30 cows in these barns. Or they are renovated as man caves, she sheds or studios, but they will still prompt warm memories for us barn lovers. Classic barns are so deeply loved that well-to-do people will probably start building them again, to have a "retro" vibe to their property.

Book I just finished: "Caste " The origins of our discontents" by Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson. This book compares the treatment of Black and Native Americans in the United States with the caste system of India. A painful, timely read that helps us understand some of the conflict in our country, and forces the reader to truly examine the experiences of others. Can't say I enjoyed reading it, but very glad I did.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, step-moms, foster moms, grandmothers and all the other women who nurture the rest of us. Your influence shows in all the good in us.

Happy milestone birthday to my Mom! She'd be ticked if I told you how old she is, but she's outlived the average lifespan of a woman in the United States.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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