Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"O" is for Old

Did I mention I like old stuff?

Yeah, I do, and I have as long as I can remember, probably starting with a fascination with my grandparents' things. Fast-forward to 1985 and my first car was a 1964 Chevrolet Chevy II Nova SS (quite a mouthful, yes?) and I drove it for the next twenty years. It was a big enough part of my life for a blog post all its own, and it still saddens me that I had to sell it.

I don't know if I could catalog all the things I like about owning and using old stuff. An important one is that if you're driving a car made the year your parents graduated high school, you'll probably be the only one on your block. The Nova attracted a lot of attention. Granted, 20 to 65-year-old males wasn't the demographic I was aiming for, but it was still cool. Obviously it fed into my nostalgic side. The Nova was like a time machine, and I had a great time cruising with the girlfriend who would become my wife. I even had a collection of '60s nickels and quarters in the ashtray. Is that weird?

In 2006, age 42.  No trouble picking it out in a parking lot.

When it comes to actually using old things, I categorize them in three ways. The first are things that have been made truly obsolete by newer things. These would be mostly utilitarian things. Most people don't wash their clothes in a tub with washboard and wringer or watch television on a old DuMont set, and to do so would probably make them glad they're living in 2013.

Some old things are quite useable and may have some advantages over new things, but involve some definite compromises in using them. My Nova was a good example. It was functional and was actually one of the faster cars on the road in the mid-80s. But it always ran hot and didn't have air-conditioning, which is a problem in Bakersfield seven months of the year. It also had low-backed seats and lap belts only, so while I did worry about whiplash and breaking my face on the steering wheel, it was a calculated risk I was willing to take. That I often had to work on it was offset by the fact that I could work on it without a degree from a technical school.  And the $46 annual registration fee was bragging material.

Finally, there are those things in which the old version, if not superior to the new, at least has some demonstrable advantages. For me, these include shaving with old-style safety razor, shaving soap and brush, and vinyl records; more on those in the coming days.

I think I've mentioned this before, and I'll repeat it - where "new  and improved" actually means "new for no good reason but improved marketing potential," I'll take a good, hard look at the old.  Your results may vary.


  1. Back in '76 when I graduated high school my first car was a '66 Mustang. Stick shift on the floor, 289, all that good stuff. I regret selling it, but back then who would know what they'd be worth today?

  2. I look forward to your post on old vinyl. My collection of vintage record albums is about to hit the auction block unless I decide to invest in a new turntable. And my first car was a well-used 1962 Chevy Biscayne.
    Kathy @ Swagger Writers

    1. Hi, Kathy. What albums do you have? If I had a decent collection, I'd get the turntable. I'm familiar with the '62 Biscayne. Neither of our cars were exactly glamorous, but they were good cars, weren't they?

  3. I understand and appreciate your fascination with old things. I like old things, too. My interest in old things focuses on family heirlooms like great grandfather's engraved sterling silver napkin ring, grandfather's engraved silver-backed brush set, grandmother's Ridgway Blue Willow china platter, and a colonial Shaker form (stool) with hand turned spindle legs, held together with square nails.

  4. Hi, Dennis. It's funny, what I most wish I had from my grandpa was a pocket tape measure with the Rain For Rent logo. I was only 3 when he died, so it's one of the only things I remember from when he was around.

    For some reason your comment reminded me about something else good about old things - they were meant to be repaired and maintained indefinitely, whereas now, consumer products end up in the landfill after 2 years. My wife and I must have gone through 5 plastic vacuum cleaners until we splurged on a Kirby. It was expensive and it's heavy, but 12 years later and no sign of ever breaking.

  5. Hi Jerry ~ I had a '66 Mustang convertible, which I bought in the late 70s or early 80s. Recently, I parked next to one in a grocery store parking lot and thought about how good that car looked, wondering where mine is now. Oldies but goodies never go out of style. xoA

  6. That's right, whether cars, music or people. :)

  7. My first car was a '78 was NOT cool in 1988. Had I kept it 20 years it might have been considered a classic! LOL But I unloaded that sucker in '89! :)


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