THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
From My Window
Issue Date: April 7, 2022
Gone Away - Again
I keep a running list of things I notice that seem to be "going away." I think this is the fourth installment on this topic over my five years of writing the column, and since change is continual, I won't ever run out of things to add. I have an accumulation again, so here we go!
Paper Dolls ?? These were a common plaything for girls (exclusively girls, as I recall,) that came in very anemically pre-punched paper sheets with tabs you could fold over to (supposedly) hold the clothes on a cardboard figure of a cute young woman permanently and discreetly attired in modest underclothing. (Never older women, or males.) About half the tabs ripped off when you were attempting to punch out the clothing. They outfits never want to stay on the cardboard dolls very well, either, even if tabs hadn't ripped off. But you could spend quite a bit of time attempting to attire your dolls. I don't think I've seen any of these for sale for a long time. Good riddance, I say.
Bread boxes ?? the pantry/kitchen of the farmhouse I grew up in had open shelving when I was little, which is all the rage in kitchen design now. Because the shelves were open, pesky flies or ants had access. So on your countertop, you'd have a "bread box" with a hinged front, similar to the pie safe concept. You put bread and other bakery in there to keep it fresher and sanitary in the days before everything came in plastic bags or "clamshell" containers. Our box's door had a wood lining on the inside of the lid so you could slice bread on it when the box lid was open. Maybe these will come back now for open shelving kitchens. I know my mom was really happy when the pantry was remodeled and she got actual kitchen cabinets. Ditto the divided kitchen sink she got as the replacement for the big, shallow original farmhouse sink we had ??and of course farmhouse sinks are trendy again. One thing that big old sink was great for was bathing babies. No bending over to tend to baby, and plenty of space for an infant to splash around.
Kitchen timers ?? these wound up mechanically like old alarm clocks, and I've always had a free-standing one although ranges come with a timer in the control panel. But my last one kept dying a few months ago, resulting in its frequent appearance on the pile of "it's busticated" things for Mike's attention, and he finally convinced me to throw it out. "You have a timer on your cell phone," he informed me. I know that, and use it for all kinds of other things, but I just liked having the kitchen timer. It's gone, and I am getting over it. Cell phones cause more "going away" items than anything else I can think of.
Pencil sharpeners ?? no classroom was without one or even two, and most houses had one too. Ours was on the wall in the kitchen. We still have one of those little ones in the office desk you'd carry in your pencil case, but it probably gets used twice a year. A victim of mechanical pencils and work being done on the computer. I remember seeing school lists with stern warnings that "only #2 pencils can be used for Iowa Basic Skills Tests." Next time I am at Mom's I am going to look and see if her kitchen wall mounted one is still there.
Billboards ?? Maybe it is my imagination, but I notice fewer billboards (not a bad thing in my opinion.) At one time there was an ugly clutter of them along most highways, but now there aren't as many, and many of the ones I see are looking for advertisers to rent them. (The ones I'd love to see go away is the electronic ones, which flash bright lights at night and are very annoying.) This decline is probably partly due to on-line advertising, and directories on your cell phone which can provide the same kinds of information in a couple of clicks. (So instead of drivers being distracted by billboards, they are busy looking at their phones.) Some communities, like Reno, NV; and four states, according to Wikipedia, have banned them to preserve scenic beauty and reduce distractions. (Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and Alaska, all states known for their lovely landscapes.) Billboards in Wisconsin aren't dead yet, but I suspect they belong on my list.
Paper checks: With widespread credit/debit card use I see fewer and fewer people writing checks in retail establishments. Many still use checks exclusively, and I still use them for some small service providers who don't use the "square" card reader system on their cell phones ?? one example is my farrier. I occasionally write checks for my Mom when running errands for her, and it always throws me when they run the check through the register and return it to me. Feels weird, like some sort of rejection. But the fact that check copies are now transmitted between financial institutions electronically means that the dozens of "freight dog" small airplanes and their operators are no longer hauling most paper checks overnight between banking centers like they used to. This check flying was a great way for fledgling pilots to build flight hours, and while researching this subject I got in deep on a fascinating side track about these operations. A sample check flight on a small plane contained 1.5 billion worth of checks, not an unusual amount (remember these are business, government and private checks.) This was a part of the old-style financial transactions of checks I knew little about but fascinates the airplane lover in me. The most common question I get about writing the column is where I find ideas. They find me ?? I don't have to look hard. "Check flying" could easily be a column all by itself.
Time to start another list of "going away" items for the next installment.
You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.