When was the last time you wore white gloves to lunch, or a cape to the opera? Why did cuckoo clocks and bed curtains disappear? What happened to calling cards, monocles, parasols, turbans, and parlor games? These are a few of the questions posed in this month's literary selection, titled Let's-Bring-Back, by Leslie Blume. Ms. Blume subtitles her small volume An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By, and she's filled it with notes and drawings of a remarkable number of things she'd like to see make a comeback. Consider the following:
“Fat Frog – A violently green, frog-shaped Good Humor ice cream pop from the 1980s. For the life of me, I can't figure out why they disappeared from our supermarket freezers, unless they were secretly proven to cause birth defects or something. The ice cream truck in my neighborhood was always running out of them; there was once a fistfight over the last one.”
Or how about:
“Card Catalogs in Libraries – Admittedly, it was nearly impossible to find the book you were actually looking for, but in the process of digging through the drawers, you always came across wonderful random titles that you'd never have discovered otherwise.”
And who remembers:
“Little Red Schoolhouses – As Americans moved west to the Great Plains and beyond in the early nineteenth century, one-room, red clapboard schoolhouses became a common sight in rural areas. While not exactly the stuff of staggering architecture, they are cultural emblems that deserve preservation; the vast majority have disappeared already. Also wonderful and now virtually extinct: log-cabin schoolhouses.”
Then there are:
“Dunce Caps – Not for children, which is cruel, but rather for the legions of irritating and incompetent adults one meets each day. Like that 'genius' at the Apple Store's so-called Genius Bar, who spilled a coffee into my laptop last summer. Perhaps someone should invent a tissue box of disposable paper ones, for easy distribution.”
“Murphy Beds – Especially popular in the 1920s and '30s, these wall beds pivoted down from a 'closet' in the wall, and went right back up in the morning. They often lived behind ornate paneled doors, or at least glass ones with pretty curtains. Kids would likely love the beds, since they feel like 'sneaky' furniture.”
Blume notes in her Introduction that Let's-Bring- Back isn't about nostalgia for nostalgia's sake, nor is it a call to stop the clock or an extolling of the virtues of simpler times (times have never been simple, she points out). “At heart, LBB is a simple appreciation, honoring the history of artful living and artfully lived lives....So let's rediscover some of the things that entertained, awed, scandalized, beautified, satiated, and fascinated people in eras past.” Be sure to read all about it!
Copyright © 2009, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.