Old Stuff

A Fool In NH Column Heading

Last week I had the opportunity to tell of my trip to Chicago where I saw a Mold-A-Rama, a fifty year old vending machine that made plastic dinosaurs in front of your eyes. Seeing it, in turn, made me think of memories of the 1965 New York World’s Fair where I first saw it when I was nine.
After the story was published, I soon found out, through my own research and letters from readers, that these original machines are not unusual to find today. In fact, they have their own Facebook page.
Isn’t that the way it always is, or at least seems to be? Once you see something you think is unique you find out it is more prevalent than you previously thought; like when you buy a new car and suddenly it seems like everyone is driving one. (For you Lamborghini owners out there, I’m sure you have no idea what I am talking about).
Another thing I came to realize after doing a little research on the Mold-A-Rama (I could have done more but who has the time) was that a lot of old things are coming back in style.
In this day and age of highly efficient technological gadgets that run on tiny circuit boards and could last a lifetime but are outdated by the time you figure out how to use them, some folks ache for the days when they owned that era’s latest technological gadget. Yes, it was loaded with wires and fuses and a few mechanical parts that would probably be broken within the year, but as long as they lasted they knew it would always be in style.
Those were the good old days.
Some people are using turntables again, and single blade razors and some that are still watching TV with an antenna (connected to the TV of course). Even those who are too young to have ever used such things are finding that they have a certain appeal (and go on Facebook and Twitter to tell all of their “friends” about it.)
Still, I guess this isn’t necessarily a current phenomenon. No matter what era it is, there is always someone from an earlier one who will growl that those were the “good old days” not realizing that years down the road the days they were complaining about will eventually become the new “good old days.”
It’s not a new phenomenon that people enjoy old things. Given the peaceful names of “antiques” as opposed to the less friendly “old junk” people will now fill up their homes with objects their forefathers got rid of years ago when they wanted to make room for the newest technological gadget that would be broken within the year. (It only makes sense nowadays that to make room for antiques folks must now get rid of some of their newer things so that their grandchildren will be able to spend Sunday afternoons in the future finding “antiques” for themselves. It is a vicious circle.)
One thing that I always enjoyed from the past more than today is automobiles. Most of today’s cars follow a cookie cutter pattern and can be rather boring. Cars from years ago were much more creative in their design. I can understand the love some folks have for collecting and restoring old cars. It is almost a sense of pride for them to be able to get the old rig shiny and running again, adorned with one of those unmistakable license plates designating it as an antique.
Still, some people have taken that a little too far. Yes, it’s true, I do get a nice feeling when I see an old Studebaker or even a Model-T but I do have to draw the line at putting an antique license plate on an AMC Gremlin or an old Toyota Corolla. Just because they are still running after twenty-five years, doesn’t quite make it right in my eyes.
But I guess I’m just showing my age. If you can remember when things that are now antique were brand new, it doesn’t seem quite so romantic, it just reminds you why your back is now stiff when you get out of bed.
There is one thing that hasn’t changed over the years that I’m sure most everyone agrees would. As we get closer to election season yet again and the next slew of presidential hopefuls and wannabe congressmen take over our bean hole bean suppers and local diners, the things that they have to say are really just the same old things that have been said by politicians since man first learned to stand upright and shake hands.
It’s sort of like they all came from the same Mold-A-Rama machine.
I’ll take the dinosaur any day.

Brendan’s new book “The Best Of A F.O.O.L. in New Hampshire” is now available online at www.foolinnh.com and at the Weirs Times.