Younger generations might get bored when we talk about “Back in the day” but what we know is, back in the day was a simple time that nurtures nostalgia for folks like us. Maryland author and BoomerCafé contributor Carrier Slocomb normally acts as our Ranter-In-Residence but today, he’s just a guy who has been reminded, yet again, about what it was like, Back in the Day.
Perhaps this hits home, perhaps it doesn’t, but how many times have you come upon something in an antique or collectibles shop that zooms your mind instantly back to childhood and creates in you a momentary rash of insanity?
This happened to me recently when we were out on a lazy Saturday, breezing our way through a mess of collectibles filling every nook in a seller’s house. The place was a vintage 20’s bungalow, set in a town far from ours, and we’d been wanting to visit it for some time. You see, my wife follows the collectibles market, and she is a very talented repurposer of rescued treasures (say I, gratefully bragging).
So here we are in this stuff-filled house, examining oddly interesting items, bypassing the ho-hums, when suddenly, a Ma Bell rotary telephone catches my eye. Bell only built these beauties in black, until some marketing genius talked production into offering various colors to the American consumer. Well, this one zoomed me back five and a half decades, straight to that walnut table on which our telephone sat in our old house, right beside the stairs.
It’s a rare day when technology gets my undivided attention. If I said the world froze around me, I wouldn’t be exaggerating. Here’s this beauty from years back, built of unbreakable plastic, black as India ink, and here I am walking towards it like some four-year-old with his tiny little hands out. I had to touch it – I had to spin the roulette wheel of memory.
I couldn’t remember the last time I had a phone like this in hand. With more reverence than the device deserved, I placed the receiver to my ear. It wasn’t plugged in, but that didn’t matter because in my mind I heard static and a vague dial tone.
It was a true moment of madness, of course. My wife, who witnessed it, had every right to call in the “aides” and have me packed off in a strait-jacket. “What on earth are you doing?”
I stuck to my tried-and-true insanity defense: “Calling Mom and Dad.” Temple 8 – 5813 … The rotary spun around, and I waited with eyes closed for one or the other to answer it. When Caroline chided me to hang up, I shushed her. I had so much to say to them. I hadn’t seen either one in decades.
“Seriously, Carrier.” Her eyes narrowed, and her voice took on a strangely different tone. “Say Hi for me,” she whispered.
It was impossible to hear a dial tone and static after that exchange, so I hung up and tried another number. Then a string of old numbers tumbled forward from that dank childhood file in my head; all neighborhood friends. My index finger flew expertly around the rotary, as I called each one. My wife moved away, as sane persons will from madmen. “No one’s answering,” I complained aloud.
A guy about my age came into the room, heard me, smiled and said, “Funny.” And that, as they say, was that. Moment over.
Do you ever get that way? Do you ever get a little twisty-minded by something from back in the day? Just asking.