This page is really just a bit of whimsy. After looking at family photos from back in the 50’s and 60’s, I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic about some of the things that aren’t around any more, or things we don’t do anymore.
I made this a separate page on the blog so that I could add to it over time. Feel free to check back from time to time, or leave a comment about something you feel nostalgia for.
February 18, 2011
I miss the old-style cassette mixtapes of the 80’s. Seriously!
There’s a great description of mixtapes on wikipedia:
A mixtape, which usually reflects the musical tastes of its compiler, can range from a casually selected list of favorite songs, to a conceptual mix of songs linked by a theme or mood, to a highly personal statement tailored to the tape’s intended recipient. Essayist Geoffrey O’Brien has called the personal mixtape “the most widely practiced American art form”, and many[who?] mixtape enthusiasts believe that by carefully selecting and ordering the tracks in a mix, an artistic statement can be created that is greater than the sum of its individual songs, much as an album of pop music in the post-Beatles era can be considered as something more than a collection of singles.
The mixtapes that I had were like old friends. On long cross country drives, there were only certain tapes that would do, tapes that would allow your mind to free itself and remind you of long lost friends and experiences.
Mixtapes were also a very personal way to express yourself to another person. How many of us put together mixes for a loved family member or boyfriend/girlfriend?
The process of putting together a mix was almost as important as the finished tape itself. Songs were played, chosen, rejected, and reordered to set just the right mood or sentiment. Recording to tape required time and effort because you had to manually create the tape, one song at a time.
Burned CDs and iPod playlists are just not the same. It’s too easy! Dragging and dropping files just doesn’t have the same sense of thought and commitment. They are too easily changed and replaced.
My favorite mixtapes took on their own unique character over time. Imperfections in the tape, little mistakes in the recording process, the unavoidable and crushing damage caused by heat and time.
Mixtapes also had a lifespan. We all knew that sooner or later our tape deck would eat our favorite tape and our friend would be gone, to be replaced by some other.
I guess there’s a life lesson in mixtapes. To everything there is a season. Things too easily replaced lack an honest and redeeming value.
I miss the old home phone service. Oh, I know it exists but cell phones are so ubiquitous that the telephone has lost its old luster.
Time was when the phone would ring, there would be a mad rush to be the first one to answer and see who was calling.
Long distance calls were particularly special. All the phone extensions would be picked up and the call shared with the whole family. You knew that long distance calls were expensive and it was a real treat when someone called just for you, such as on your birthday.
It’s just not the same today when everyone has “free” long distance and there is a phone in every pocket.
I have some friends who adamantly refuse to get cell phones, so for at least them, it is still a special occasion to call them out in the wilds of Omaha.
Gas Station Attendants
We would pull into the station, the car crossing the black hose that would ring a bell in the service bay, announcing our arrival. DING! DING!
Soon the attendant would come out to the car and whoever was driving would roll the window down.
“Fill ‘er up with ethyl, please!”
“Yes, ma’am. Would you like me to check the air, water and oil?”
“Please, 30 pounds all around.”
As the attendant popped the hood, checked the oil, radiator and tires, we would watch the numbers on the gas pump turn in their steady progression, counting up the gallons of gas and the dollars and cents of the purchase. Eventually, when the tank was full, the pump would stop with a mighty “CLUNK!”
Most of the time, my mom or dad would pay with a charge card for that particular brand of gas. They carried a card for most of the brands back then.
The attendant would put the card into his portable credit card embossing machine, place a credit form over it, and then run the roller across it to mark the form, “SHUNK … SHUNK.”
After the form had been signed, the windows washed, and the car buttoned up, off we would go, floating down the road as only one of those ’60s battle cruisers could do.
I miss that experience. There’s a certain feel of independence with the whole self-serve gas station, but there’s nothing wrong with being a little pampered by a good attendant and a company that appreciated your business. Plus, there was always something a little corny about those visits. You always inspected the station bathrooms for cleanliness, explored the service bays as mysterious enclaves, and invariably check to see if you had the latest highway maps.
Living out in West Texas or eastern New Mexico as I did as a kid, gas stations were little oases in the dark of night, lights blazing with a welcome respite for tired travelers.