Column, Looking Back

Shopping for items of the past

By Mary Ellen Shaw

I realized that I am “stuck” in the ’50s when Venetian blinds are still my choice for privacy and keeping out the sun. Apparently, the majority of consumers have moved on to more modern options!

About a year ago my husband picked up a replacement blind for one of our living room windows. When we opened the package we were surprised to find out that there was no cord on the blind. After doing some online research I learned that the type with cords has been discontinued due to strangulation risk for a child.

Our one newly acquired cordless blind would have looked very odd in the living room with the four other blinds that have cords. So my husband headed to the store to get four more blinds. They did not fit into the existing fixtures so new ones had to be installed. Because I am a creature of habit it doesn’t seem natural to pull the blinds up and down by hand. One window has furniture in front of it making it very inconvenient to pull on the blind. Reaching for the cord was so simple. Oh, the little problems that can arise with change!

Here we are one year later and I still hate the new method of raising and lowering the blinds. But I hate even more that the strings holding the slats are very flimsy. One blind got stuck part way down and couldn’t be lowered so I got the bright idea to cut the string just in the lower part and just let the blind rest on the window sill until I could get a new one.

Bad idea! Multiple slats came tumbling down onto the floor even though I hadn’t cut the strings that were holding them…or so I thought!

Off to the store I went to get another blind…Merchandise had been moved around, as often happens in stores so I asked a nearby clerk where the Venetian blinds were. His answer was, “I don’t even know what a venetian blind is, much less where they are.” Zero star customer service rating out of five stars for that answer! I tried again asking where the curtains are as I figured that blinds would be nearby. BINGO! He walked me to the curtain section and asked me to point out the blinds to him if I could see them. I did exactly as asked and picked up a Venetian blind to bring to the register. Now if some other “senior” asks where the venetian blinds are the nonchalant clerk will have the answer.

My quest for blinds made me think of other items that were popular “back in the day” but would most likely create a puzzled look if a young clerk was asked for their location today.

Here are a few items that might cause a bewildered look if you asked where to find them. In case you aren’t familiar with the items I will tell you a little about each of them.

Records – records were not “one size fits all.” They came in diameters of 7,” 10” and 12.” The 12” size holds about 22 minutes of music. The smaller sizes hold less music.

Radio – My parents had a radio that was like a piece of furniture. It was wooden and about 4 feet tall. My way of listening to music back in the ’50s was mainly through a clock radio. It was a big deal back then because you could wake up to music instead of a shrill alarm clock. Portable radios were popular among my friends in the ’50s and ’60s because we could take them to the pool or the lake and listen to our favorite station.

Typewriters – full size or portable…you needed a ribbon in order for the words you typed to be printed on paper. You hated to make a mistake as it was not easy to “lift” the incorrect letter or number off the paper!

Hair rollers – brush variety or sponge type…sleeping on the brushes was not comfortable but often worked much better than the pink sponge variety. Sometimes a hairnet or cap was worn to keep them in place as you slept. It was quite an entertaining sight if you got caught in public wearing them. The age group that dared to venture outside with them (often sticking out of a scarf) was comprised of seniors.

Now that I am in that category I can see why it’s OK to get a little daring when you are in a hurry. But you will not find me with rollers in my hair. Those days are passé!

If you are a “senior” who is shopping for an item from your past, be prepared for a puzzled look and a whole lot of luck when it comes to finding what you want!

Mountain Times Newsletter

Sign up below to receive the weekly newsletter, which also includes top trending stories and what all the locals are talking about!