Monday, March 3, 2008

vade retro


On my kitchen counter sits a squat black rotary telephone. It's just like the very first telephone I can remember, the one that we had on our kitchen counter when I was four. Which, of course, is exactly the point.

Besides the nostalgia value, the phone affords me a certain amount of amusement. To anyone under the age of, say, 21, it's far from intuitively obvious that the way you make a call is by putting an index finger into the appropriate holes, one at a time, pulling the dial clockwise as far as it'll go, then releasing and listening to the pleasant clickety-click as it rotates backwards. It also makes me unaccountably happy that the phone has a real bell with a solid ring, which, if you're so inclined, you can listen to below.



Other things I remember fondly from my childhood include my Easy Bake Oven (the old kind that used a light bulb as a heating element, not the new pink and purple one that's been recalled as serious burn hazard) and my nursery school lunchbox, a red barn with an open door and a cow looking out, which someone is selling for a ridiculous amount on ebay.


What are you nostalgic for?

37 comments:

Magpie said...

My mother still has a dial telephone in use. Two, come to think of it.

When we moved into our house, it had a wimpy dismal squawk of a doorbell. With a little esoteric equipment, my husband repurposed the ringer from an old phone, and made it the doorbell. that makes me unaccountably happy.

Rosalind said...

Wow Niobe.. We used to have a green one and I remember hearing my mother kiss her teeth really loud whenever she messed up the numbers because then she had to start all over again...HA!!

thailandchani said...

I can't think of anything I am particularly nostalgic for. I'm not a very nostalgic person.. but I do like 80s music. :)

Clementine said...

I love that old phone! That really takes me back.

the dragonfly said...

At my grandparents house there were wonderful old toys, my favorite was the container of Lincoln Logs. Many of the roof slats had been broken, so my grandpa made new ones in his workshop.

Becky said...

Hmmm....

The smell of my grandmother's house. I miss that very much.

Julie Pippert said...

I *love* that phone photo!

Oh old phones.

I'm nostalgic for a time that seemed so much less complicated. I'm tired of complicated. I'm tired of more of the same.

I want cleaning up in time for Batman to be enough, again.

And I'm not saying I want to be a child again. I just wish I hadn't quite grown out of it all so well.

Coggy said...

My friend has an old phone just like this as her main home phone. It's very cool, but next to impossible to hear her on it when she calls.

I miss Saturday afternoons with The A-team and Knight Rider closely followed by old school wrestling (Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy) which always led to my brother and I having a wrestling match with my Dad.

Furrow said...

Grandmother's grilled cheese sandwiches, Tuesday afternoon ballet class, station wagons with a rear facing bench, kittens every spring and fall, real winter, snow days, new boyfriends, back-to-school shopping, intellectual enthusiasm.

christina(apronstrings) said...

love the phone.
i miss chasing lighting bugs and looking for frogs in knee-high boots, and sleeping outside. i miss the feeling of being utterly alone in the silence of the woods. and green koolaide.
*sigh*

Anonymous said...

You recently commented that one of my posts read to you like a travel guide to a distant land you had never been to. This post reads to me like that. I have no nostalgia -- nothing from my childhood is worth it.

Maggie said...

I LOVE that phone! My parents used to have one that was a hideous shade of yellow-green on the wall.

Do they even still make rotary telephones?

Anonymous said...

I wish I had my Tiny Tears doll! I got one for my fifth Christmas and I don't know whatever happened to her.
Nancy

K @ ourboxofrain said...

I love your lunchbox. I mainly just loved that mine had a thermos, though I distinctly recall the foul odor that the thermos eventually acquired.

I have been feeling oddly nostalgic lately for:

The playhouse my dad built in our basement (as a child, I was amazed it had real lights and shutters on the windows -- now I'm amazed I ever fit inside it).

The cassette tape of a woman with a fabulous British accent reading Beatrix Potter stories that we listened to (repeatedly) during car rides.

The smell of my wood blocks after sitting boxed under the couch in the sunroom in the summer.

Heather said...

Wonderwoman underoos. Those were my uniform back in the day! And The Smurfs on Saturday morning. What the heck happened to good Saturday morning cartoons?

tobacco brunette said...

My Glamour Gals and the Ocean Queen Cruise Ship that went with them. I'm also with Heather on the Wonder Woman Underoos.

CJ said...

The Fischer Price playhouse that had a carrying handle and opened up into 4 rooms. My sister had the barn and when you opened the big door in the front, a cow mooed.

We also had a Barbie plane, camper, and cruise ship. We could play for hours with those things.

I miss the free-wheeling, make-it up yourself play.

stat763 said...

We have the same phone in green. My friend's kids love using it -- it is such a novelty for them. Ours has the same ring as yours.

Deep sigh - I'm nostalgic for my innocence and the anticipation of wondering what life will bring.

Angelisa said...

My Holly Hobby Oven...

Lite Brite...

My fisher-price recorder (I made up so many "radio dramas" on it.)

Awake said...

Hmmm . . . "the Wonderful World of Disney" on Sunday? nights. My parents would make (real) homemade popcorn on the stove, we'd have ice cream, and our weekly half-glass of soda pop. Kids curled on the floor, my head on my brother's back, parents on the couch.

I remember the clickety-clack noise, what a fun memory.

Julia said...

That's the kind of phone I grew up with, although ours was in a much lamer color. I still remember the phone number that went with that phone-- our number in the Old City.

From my childhood, I would like to bring back the ice cream we used to buy after school. It's good. They don't have ice cream this good here, at least not for anything resembling reasonable price, not to mention the ridiculously low price we actually paid. These days there is many more flavors, but last spring when we were in the Old City a couple of times I just bought ice cream of my childhood. Of course since I shouldn't be having that much sugar it's probably a good thing that we don't have ice cream this good here...

Aurelia said...

I miss my Nancy Drew books, all originals, still don't know where they went. I wish I had them back!

Lisa b said...

I love those old phones. There is just something about the intentionality of calling someone when it requires that much effort.
A friend's mom had a phone like that and didn't realise for ten years she was still renting it from the phone company.

I always wanted an easy bake oven.

Monica H said...

We used to have a phone like that, but it was beige. We also had a matching metal address book. It latched in place and you would move a dial on the side to indicate which letter you wanted to look up, then you opened it up. I had so much fun with that thing.

Oh, and playing "store" and with my lite brite and watching Fraggle Rock and I LOVED the spiralgraph (If anyone ever finds one of these, let me know!) I also loved watching Price Is Right on the old huge furniture TV's. Good times :-)

Coggy- I still watch A-Team. It was on for the longest time then they cancelled it again. We have the entire DVD collection though.

susan said...

The smell of a new leather bookbag in September.

Kymberli said...

I miss my great-grandmother's mustard yellow/green rotary phone hanging on the wall in her kitchen. I miss the smell of coffee grounds in her olive green spinning Tupperware storage bins with corrugated white snap-on lids.

I miss the pink She-Ra lunch box that I used to beat the snot of a twice-my-size kid who called me the n-word in 3rd grade.

I miss Shrinky-Dinks, particularly the Smurf ones. I miss Mr. Wizard, Dangermouse, and the California Raisins. I also miss my own Easy Bake Oven.

Iselyahna said...

My old cat, feeling safe, and being able to fit completely into a box and fall asleep.

Angela said...

I am SO nostalgic that I'm not even going to answer this one. Not even start, because then I'd list a few, get carried away, try to cut the list down, but not be able to decide which ones were the most important... Nostalgia is a way of life for me. I'll miss anything (and really, almost everything), all the time. It's really quite pathetic.

niobe said...

Monica H: If you really want a vintage spirograph, take a look on ebay, where there are lots and lots of them. I loved The Price Is Right too. And, of course, Let's Make A Deal.

Heather, Tobacco Brunette: I didn't have underoos, still less Wonder Woman underoos, but I did have underwear printed with the days of the week. It always bothered me to wear them on the "wrong" day.

Anonymous said...

I think I had that lunchbox. Wasn't the thermos a silo? I also had a "Bugaloo" lunch box. I miss watching frog spawn turn into tadpoles and tadpoles turn into toads.
Allypally

Law Student Hot Mama said...

Those old rotary phones have a satisfying ring of objection when you slam them down to hang up on somebody, too! Added bonus!

I'm definitely nostalgic for Brio trains!

LawMommy said...

I'm nostalgic for:

The sound of grandfather playing his twelve-string guitar, or his banjo. And the sound of his voice, singing...

These tuna sandwiches I used to buy from this kiosk on the beach in Cannes when I was a college student there - they were made on crusty round bread with big chunks of sweet onion and nicoise olives, dripping with some kind of vinaigrette. God, they were heaven...

The smell of the theater where I once played Olivia in Twelfth Night, and Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie...

niobe said...

AllyPally: Yes! It did have a silo thermos, though I think mine didn't last very long.

loribeth said...

LOL... my dh was recently watching the movie "In & Out" with Kevin Kline & Tom Selleck... there's a scene where supermodel Shalom Harlow plays... a spoiled supermodel (lol), stuck in a small-town hotel room. She wants to call her agent but is totally confounded by the rotary dial telephone -- pokes at the numbers like they were buttons & whines!

In a movie vein -- I loved the movie "Almost Famous" -- there is a scene near the beginning that shows a close up of a turntable stylus dropping onto a vinyl album (the Who's "Tommy"), the music starting. I got all choked up over that. Seriously.

Ahuva Batya said...

My mother refused to have touch-tone phones; they are all the old heavy black ones as you describe. Although it's not very convenient when I am visiting and trying to conduct any type of 21st-century business, it does serve its purposes: during long conversations with my mother, sometimes she is forced to cut the conversation short because "her arm is tired from holding up the phone."

Anonymous said...

I still remember my very first phone number. It was 774-7747. How cool is that? I had the same barn-shaped lunchbox as Niobe. I remember my mother getting mad when the glass lining of the thermos would break due to rough handling, being dropped or whatever. I remember the advent of postal zipcodes and automobile seatbelts. I remember when it was perfectly acceptable to rake leaves into a pile and burn them. It smelled wonderful. I remember when it seemed all adults smoked. It was okay to smoke in the grocery store and in the doctor's waiting room. Ash trays were everywhere and very inventively designed. My aunt had some plaid beanbag-like ones that I coveted. There was a guy who had a horse drawn cart who sold vegetables in our neighborhood. (This was in the 1960s) There was also a guy who went door-to-door sharpening knives and lawn mower blades. I remember hand-pushed lawnmowers.

Minnesota Matron said...

Little Kiddles.