When I was younger I noticed that many older people still used old ones. For example my paternal grandparents still used old oscillating fans with minimal guards around the blades. was doing. Our parents warned us boys not to get in the way of the blade. A curious younger brother, Dave, left all his fingers but suffered painful consequences.
Opa and Oma also had an early 20th century Victrola Talking Machine. We kids enjoyed playing thick records on our hand-cranked Victrola.
My maternal grandmother had a refrigerator in the kitchen, but she still used a dan waiter and could drop butter, jellies, and anything else she wanted chilled down into the basement.
Uncle Dick had an old console radio in his shop that sounded better than all new radios from the 50’s and 60’s.
As a young man, I was interested in all things modern and wondered why people kept having this old stuff.
I thought about this again a few weeks ago when I put away the portable radio that has supported me for three quarters of my life.
I remember buying a radio in 1968 for about $50. The radio had excellent selectivity and was able to pick up distant stations, delivering excellent sound reproduction on both AM and FM stations.
When the family was hospitalized, they took it with them because it worked so well amidst all the electronic interference in the hospital.
The cabinets are held together with hot glue, black vinyl tape, and tiny bolts I found in junk drawers.
Older radios didn’t stand upright and had to be leaned against a wall or something. But until a few years ago, it was the best performing radio in the home.
Over the last few months, its performance has degraded. But I couldn’t throw it away, so I packed it in a box with other old electronics that I couldn’t throw away.
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Many radios today are built for the look… period. A few years ago, a local store advertised his charming under-counter radio with a built-in CD player. I decided to take advantage of the sale and install it under the kitchen counter. Before that, I plugged it in to test the sound and reception. The radio was crap.
Remote reception isn’t much of an issue if you live in a metropolitan area, but this new radio couldn’t separate the signals. I took it back to the store that evening and asked for a refund.
Now I understand why the elderly keep old things. Old is often better than new.
Many consumer electronics today are disposable. If your five-year-old TV breaks down, it’s not worth fixing if you can actually fix it. An appliance salesman told me that the latest washing machines are made to last about 7 years, and the current washing machine he’s had for 6 years makes me nervous.
It reminded me of the old Maytag wringer style washing machine my mom used when I was a kid. At the time, you had to be at least 20 years old.
These days, in our desire for more and more sophistication, we embrace more junk.
Could you have done the same with a person or relationship?
With Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, we have more acquaintances and ‘friends’ than ever before, but do we have as many real friends as our parents do?
I recently read that the average price for a wedding these days is over $20,000. Too often, the marriages that result from these expensive weddings lack the integrity and sustainability of grandpa and grandma’s marriages that began with $20 weddings.
There’s a reason the old people kept the old ones — they worked.
In our enthusiasm for all things new and exciting, it’s good to remember that much of what has been tried and tested is worth holding onto, including grandpa’s and grandma’s values.
Arvid Huisman began writing for Country Roads 32 years ago and today has columns in several Iowa newspapers. He can be reached at his firstname.lastname@example.org.