In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Going Obsolete.” Of all the technologies that have gone extinct within my lifetime, I’m not sure of which one I miss the most. I can remember, though, that when I was a kid in Jackson Heights, milk men, and other kinds of salesmen, used always to drive through people’s neighborhoods in trucks. Since I’ve never liked traffic or crowds it would be nice if we could go back to those days. Now we have mail order sales and internet sites that do sort of the same thing, so in a certain sense the convenience is available. I used always to enjoy, though, seeing those big silver colored milk boxes on each neighbor’s front stoop each day in anticipation of his regular delivery from the milk man. Perhaps it would do more harm than good, though, to bring back that specific thing. I’ve never liked traffic and having it unnecessarily obstructed by some character stopping every few feet as he drives down the street would drive me to distraction. We already have that anyway with U.P.S. trucks, school buses and other kinds of vehicles constantly defiantly bringing traffic to a frustrating halt. In my imagination, of course, it’s quite a fond memory and a nice idea.
At my age I can remember all sorts of anachronistic things, that are now mere memories from the distant past. When I was a kid in Jackson Heights there was a milkman who drove through each neighborhood on a regular basis delivering glass bottles of milk to customers. Each customer would leave a big square metal box on his stoop in which the milkman would put the order of milk. At St. Gabriel’s, my grammar school, each student always had an ink blotter on the top of his desk. The real old timers of that era even referred to ice boxes and victrolas. A top contender for the thing I miss the most from my younger days may be the vinyl record. It was round, practically always black, and span in thirty three and forty five revolutions per minute. Although it was nowhere near as technologically advanced as today’s compact discs, and the sound wasn’t as good, there was something really impressive and interesting about records. Each album was either ten or twelve inches-the single was significantly smaller- and played with a stylus. One of the most interesting things about the record was the artwork on the cover. In those days each singer or band would go to great lengths to make sure the album cover was sufficiently distinctive. Now that we have compact discs it just doesn’t seem like such a good idea to bother to devote that much attention to such a small space. In 1967 the Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. On the cover were a few dozen famous people from the past, with the Fab Four, in a psychedelic garden. Four years later the cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” was in the form of a pair of pants with a real zipper down the middle. A record cover, in those days, could be seen as kind of a variation of a poster or t-shirt. Musicians were as notorious for their visual imagery as for their music. One of the major disadvantages of vinyl records was a major problem with storage space. Over the years I have seen many compilations of pictures of the best most significant album covers of yore. It’s nice to see that people still appreciate the covers. Because of their significant size it was difficult to find a place for a sigificant number of them. Another problem was that they often scratched, skipped and got warped if they weren’t treated with meticulous care. Visiting a record store was always quite an enjoyable experience, and was significantly different with each succeeding era, depending upon what was then in style. Unfortunately the days of vinyl albums ended in the late 1980’s. I still have very many in my collection and I even have a record player too so I can play them. Not many people these days can say that. It’s quite in keeping, though, with my offbeat anachronistic image. People who know me fully expect me to have things like that.