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Thread: Keeping the past alive

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Keeping the past alive

    I poked some fun at the Ren Faire scene not long ago, but I’ve been thinking about the phenomenon in terms of the bigger picture, and think it serves as yet another example of how we humans are deeply intrigued by the past. I mean think about how many different activities out there that are somehow related to preservation of some thing or some activity, art form, or technology that took place in the past but has disappeared (or is disappearing). There are antique collectors, steam engine enthusiasts, civil war reenactments, fashion items that have cyclically come and gone out of style multiple times, musical genres, painting styles, architectural styles, and numerous other phenomenon that we feel compelled to preserve and on some level keep alive.

    In my own little way, I try to preserve our gardening heritage (and biological diversity) by making a point to plant heirloom seeds in my garden each year – scores of once popular varieties of apples, tomatoes, beans, and many other types of plants are vanishing as commercial growers and seed companies focus on hybrids that best suited for industrial-scale production, harvest, and distribution. These new hybrids have qualities, such as longer shelf lives, increased disease/pest resistance, or harvest size that make them desirable from one perspective, but often at the expense of nutritive value or flavor.

    In what ways are you fascinated by the past or are somehow keeping it alive? Do you have a collection of ragtime recordings, restore old cars, use old carpentry tools, or know how to sew by hand?





    Last edited by Maister; 16 Jan 2014 at 11:11 AM.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Faust_Motel's avatar
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    I'm a typewriter geek. I have three right now, all in good working order.

    I certainly use old tools- most of my block planes came from my grandfather, and they have a wonderful feel to them.

    I also like to restore old bicycles- I have a beautiful early 1970's touring bike on the bench right now and have had many others pass through my hands, all to good homes.

    I also prefer my early edition Joy of Cooking (the one with the turtle and squirrel recipes still in it) over most of the other cookbooks I have.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    Someday I'm going to have enough time, space, and money to find an old muscle car and restore it to it's past glory. I'm thinking something fast but not as common as, say, a Mustang or Camaro. Maybe an Olds 442 or Buick GS.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  4. #4
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I'm slowly teaching myself watch working. I began last year and so far have taught myself to replace crystals, crowns, dials, hands, and bezels. I can also swap out a movement. I'd like to learn how to regulate a movement and replace a broken spring and change gaskets and seals. I need to get a timeograph so I can measure the accuracy before and after I do my work and a chamber to do pressure testing in. I don't think I'll be building a watch from scratch anytime soon, but I can basically buy all the parts and put one together.

    I learned some basic sewing when I was in the Marine Corps and needed to hem some trousers. Since then I've taught myself to let-out/take-in the waist and make slight alterations to the sleeves of sportcoats. Next time the collar on one of my solid color button down shirts gets to the point where it looks like it needs to go to the garbage, I will be attempting to turn the collar myself and get another couple of years worth of wear. I'd also like to teach myself how to slim down the leg of a pair of trousers so the next pair that is destined for the Salvation Army may make a detour to my sewing machine first. I think I'd also like to teach myself to make a necktie from scratch.

    I have two tailors that I go to on a regular basis and both are well past customary retirement age yet have no plans to do so. Not because they cannot afford to retire (on the contrary, they both seem to do well, in fact one of them has a gorgeous house on a lake in one of the most desirable communities here) but because they don't want their businesses to close and cannot find anybody young enough to pass them on to or sell them to. Even with relatively good earnings potential for a good tailor and more than enough work to keep them busy, apparently it's just not a field that young folks want to enter anymore.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  5. #5
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Rygor View post
    Maybe an Olds 442 or Buick GS.
    Or an AMC AMX? Certainly fits the bill of "uncommon".
    Last edited by mendelman; 16 Jan 2014 at 11:59 AM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    I'm a very nostalgic and sentimental person and I also love history, so naturally I do try to keep the past alive.

    I love listening to old music. While I typically seek out classic rock, I also enjoy the hippie singer-songwriters, motown, oldies (50s/early 60s), 70s & 80s pop and dance music, and even old blues, jazz & swing music. I remember growing up, we listened to the oldies station all the time. In addition, my Dad always used to listen to "old time radio" on the weekends, and I would always enjoy that. As a child of the 90s, I also find myself listening to a lot of 90s music lately...alternative rock, grunge, pop, rap, country, whatever. In fact, I probably seek out older music more than I do newer music (newer music always finds me anyways, whether I like it or not). And I really get into it...while most people know one or two songs from an older established artist, I will find myself becoming immersed in many artists' catalogs and have seen a lot of great "veteran" acts live in concert. I have even started a small vinyl collection and hope to get a record player and build my collection more in the coming years. I also enjoy watching old movies and TV shows, although not nearly as much as old music.

    I also love old maps and have a pretty large collection. Not just the uber old antique maps, but even a 1970s era highway map, and seeing how much things have changed since then. I have a pretty extensive basketball card collection, that is almost entirely from the 90s. I don't look through it often, but it is definitely a relic of the past that I will probably never part with.

    I was actually just going through a box of old dishes that my Grandma & Grandpa on my dad's side had. My aunt (my Dad's sister) actually packed the box for me. We had some water damage when the pipes burst recently, so I went through the dishes, drying them individually and putting them into a new box. While I have yet to use these dishes, I still couldn't part ways with them. I have such fond memories of seeing and using those dishes all the time at my grandparents' house when I was growing up as a kid. In addition, all those people are now dead (my grandparents, my dad, and my aunt), and I feel those dishes are something tangible that I associate with them that I can cling to in an effort to keep those memories alive. My brother has several pieces of furniture of theirs in his house and it always warms my heart to see that those pieces of furniture are still there and haven taken on a new life.

    Like Rygor, I would also love to restore an old muscle car someday, if I can ever afford it. I know it can be expensive to do so (and I'm not a handy mechanic guy, so I would have to have a specialty shop take care of it for me), so it's more of one of those things to consider if I ever make six figures.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  7. #7
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    It should be no surpise that I have an interest in the history of the Old West. I own several reproductions of black powder guns, which I enjoy shooting. My "Precious" is a reproduction of a 1866 "Yellow Boy" Winchester. Those pre-Browning Henrys and Wincesters are inferior in design to those designed by Browning, but so much more interesting in how they work. I collect historical knowledge of the clothing, customs, foods, people, etc. of the places and era. Part of the fascination is the importance of the land in the development of the region. How the arid, usually treeless land was a challenge to settle and what had to be done to accomodate the difference between settlement of the eastern U.S. and the western U.S.

    I've visited the major battlefields of the Indian Wars in Montana and Idaho. I have the diary of a distant relative who went to the California gold fields in 1849. Last summer for "fun" I toured sites along the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails.

    I wish I had the financial wherewithal to collect period items, like spurs, tools, etc. But it isn't like I need more stuff to clutter my home.

    I've toyed with getting into Cowboy Shooting Sports, but the expense of getting an outfit together and then getting over feeling silly dressing up has put me off so far.

    I do own an old Victrola with some old records, too. And it works.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I like old stuff. My house more than 120 years old, in a historic district, and we have quite a few antiques in it. I sit on the historic preservation commission for my community and I love reading history books and looking at old photos and comparing how it is now... and thinking how it might be in the future.

    I have said this before and I am going to say this again, I wish people paid the same attention to detail that they did 100 years ago. There was acceptable levels of civility amongst the middle and upper class, and no man would be caught dead out of the house without a hat. Different people had different hats, but there was a level of expectation.

    I also grew up an an old car family and helped my dad build a 56 Chevy, a 66 Tempest, a 74 Camaro, and right now he is working on a 51 Chevy pickup. I am in the process of drawing up plans for a full custom 53/54 Chevy that will be dropped/chopped/shaved and running on a custom frame with Corvette running gear.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    I have several antique tube radios that I have successfully restored to safe and reliable operating condition. A couple of them blow away anything made today in sound quality, too.

    Mike

  10. #10
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    I have several antique tube radios that I have successfully restored to safe and reliable operating condition. A couple of them blow away anything made today in sound quality, too.

    Mike
    This year I want to get a new-to-me turntable, receiver, and amplifier and really would like to get a tube amplifier but I have no idea where to begin. I just like the thought of how it would look in my den. (I do play a lot of vinyl at home)
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  11. #11
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Faust_Motel View post
    I also prefer my early edition Joy of Cooking (the one with the turtle and squirrel recipes still in it) over most of the other cookbooks I have.
    I am also fond of the Joy of Cooking! A few years ago I had to replace the copy I got from my mother as too many pages had fallen out, but the new copy does still have the odd game recipes. If I could have only one cookbook, that would be it. We also have quite a number of old pots, ceramic bowls, etc. as my mother was an avid collector of old things.

    As someone with an MA in Folklore, I am all about keeping the past alive. In addition to a fascination with oral history, old people’s memories and understanding the historic forces that shape the built environment, we have a few tangible historic items. We have a handful of old furniture my parents restored and which I inherited along with some very nice old rugs. My wife is a photographer and she has a nice collection of old cameras.

    I am also the keeper of the family history which includes a number of interesting items like my great grandfather’s jewelry and watches (he was a jeweler) and a collection of silver coins, some of which date back to the 1880’s. I also have a few sculptures and artifacts from Cameroon in the 1950s as my father went there to collect the space chimps when he was in the air force and working on the space program (pre-NASA). It was French Cameroon at the time. This is the kind of historic stuff I like – objects that provide a place to hang stories and memories. I also have two huge tubs of old family photographs and documents dating back quite a ways.

    My wife has this amazing old ketubah (a Jewish wedding contract) which is made of elaborately cut paper and is full of all kinds of amazing symbolism – different birds, clocks set to specific times, etc. It dates to the beginning of the 20th century. Her family came from Russia, Poland and Lithuania and I know in some of these places this cut paper tradition is still pretty strong (I met an amazing Polish cut paper artist a few years ago living here)

    Like Faust_Motel I am also a bike nut, though the oldest one I have currently is a 1984 hand built Trek road bike. But an old friend has two authentic high wheel bikes and another “safety bike” that was owned by Teddy Roosevelt. Its amazing (though unrideable). Dates to the late 19th century and has wooden rims.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  12. #12
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    This year I want to get a new-to-me turntable, receiver, and amplifier and really would like to get a tube amplifier but I have no idea where to begin. I just like the thought of how it would look in my den. (I do play a lot of vinyl at home)
    New tube-amplifiers are being made. The only thing is that they are very expensive and only available at high-end 'audiophile' stores.

    Mike

  13. #13
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    New tube-amplifiers are being made. The only thing is that they are very expensive and only available at high-end 'audiophile' stores.

    Mike
    Hmmmm, I actually have the guts of a very old radio in my basement... I found an old cabinet that I was going to restore, but decided to use it to hide the Blu-ray player and other tv stuff.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    I collect old postcards. I love old maps, too, but I think most of mine - we have some framed maps on our walls - are actually reproductions.


    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    My wife has this amazing old ketubah (a Jewish wedding contract) which is made of elaborately cut paper and is full of all kinds of amazing symbolism – different birds, clocks set to specific times, etc. It dates to the beginning of the 20th century. Her family came from Russia, Poland and Lithuania and I know in some of these places this cut paper tradition is still pretty strong (I met an amazing Polish cut paper artist a few years ago living here)
    Wow, I've never heard of that, but it sounds interesting! My family is from eastern Europe too.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I don't like old stuff in my daily life. I prefer to see it in museums.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  16. #16
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    I am also fond of the Joy of Cooking! A few years ago I had to replace the copy I got from my mother as too many pages had fallen out, but the new copy does still have the odd game recipes. If I could have only one cookbook, that would be it. We also have quite a number of old pots, ceramic bowls, etc. as my mother was an avid collector of old things.

    As someone with an MA in Folklore, I am all about keeping the past alive. In addition to a fascination with oral history, old people’s memories and understanding the historic forces that shape the built environment, we have a few tangible historic items. We have a handful of old furniture my parents restored and which I inherited along with some very nice old rugs. My wife is a photographer and she has a nice collection of old cameras.

    I am also the keeper of the family history which includes a number of interesting items like my great grandfather’s jewelry and watches (he was a jeweler) and a collection of silver coins, some of which date back to the 1880’s. I also have a few sculptures and artifacts from Cameroon in the 1950s as my father went there to collect the space chimps when he was in the air force and working on the space program (pre-NASA). It was French Cameroon at the time. This is the kind of historic stuff I like – objects that provide a place to hang stories and memories. I also have two huge tubs of old family photographs and documents dating back quite a ways.

    My wife has this amazing old ketubah (a Jewish wedding contract) which is made of elaborately cut paper and is full of all kinds of amazing symbolism – different birds, clocks set to specific times, etc. It dates to the beginning of the 20th century. Her family came from Russia, Poland and Lithuania and I know in some of these places this cut paper tradition is still pretty strong (I met an amazing Polish cut paper artist a few years ago living here)

    Like Faust_Motel I am also a bike nut, though the oldest one I have currently is a 1984 hand built Trek road bike. But an old friend has two authentic high wheel bikes and another “safety bike” that was owned by Teddy Roosevelt. Its amazing (though unrideable). Dates to the late 19th century and has wooden rims.
    My 1967 edition has game recipes. Never turned to that chapter before. I sell vintage cookbooks on ebay and offhand the best seller seems to be Betty Crocker, specifically the 1969 edition which my mother happens to have. She got it for a wedding gift despite the fact that they were on to a new edition by the time she got married in 1980.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    I have 3 sewing machines. One is about 90 years old; one is 40 years old and one is brand new. I think it's cool that they still operate pretty much the same way.

    I like old books and will buy old books that have inscriptions.

    I love watching movies from the 30's and 40's. I like to see the furnishings and the costumes.

    And I adore old men. Really. I just like being around them.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Rygor View post
    Someday I'm going to have enough time, space, and money to find an old muscle car and restore it to it's past glory. I'm thinking something fast but not as common as, say, a Mustang or Camaro. Maybe an Olds 442 or Buick GS.
    Good luck, I too would take a Cutlass or a Regal muscle car over a Mustang or a Camaro. May be real hard to find.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  19. #19
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    I have some 45 year old completely original speakers that form the basis of our home sound system. So much better than anything made today. I also have a 36 year old chevy 350 that I'm desperately fighting a losing battle with the coastal sea air.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    Wow, I've never heard of that, but it sounds interesting! My family is from eastern Europe too.
    In Poland the tradition is called "wycinanki" (don't ask how that is pronounced). If you google image search it you will find some remarkable pieces of art. I love that stuff!
    Last edited by wahday; 16 Jan 2014 at 7:23 PM.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  21. #21
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Closest I get is coin collecting.

    I like to acquire coins on a regular basis that "say" something to me about their history. I also search volumes of coins from the bank (ie $100 boxes of nickels, etc) to pull out old and/or interesting and/or "valuable" coins from circulation. It's any easy past time and hard to beat the acquisition costs. Plus, they're always worth at least face value. I intend to keep the collection around to see if any of my boys get interested in the future.

    Here are some recent interesting finds from circulation for $0.05 each:







    Last edited by mendelman; 17 Jan 2014 at 2:12 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Faust_Motel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post

    Like Faust_Motel I am also a bike nut, though the oldest one I have currently is a 1984 hand built Trek road bike. But an old friend has two authentic high wheel bikes and another “safety bike” that was owned by Teddy Roosevelt. Its amazing (though unrideable). Dates to the late 19th century and has wooden rims.
    I used to have a 1984 460. Nice bike but it was incredibly flexible under heavy pedaling. It was one of the first frames they ever had welded up in Japan. It started as a freebie from the bottom of somebody's driveway. I rode it as my fixie commuter for two year then returned it to its original 12 speed glory and sold it to somebody who needed it more than me. (I know, too much of this and we will have to revive the NEVERENDING bicycle thread!).

    As to Joy of Cooking, it's the part of the turtle recipe where you keep and feed them for a couple of days before making them into soup that I couldn't imagine doing. I could see slaughtering a pig or cow myself- but a turtle? I like turtles. A man's got limits.

  23. #23
    I still believe in paper maps

  24. #24
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Super Amputee Cat View post
    I still believe in paper maps
    I believe in them too... I just don't use them.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Faust_Motel View post
    I used to have a 1984 460. Nice bike but it was incredibly flexible under heavy pedaling. It was one of the first frames they ever had welded up in Japan. It started as a freebie from the bottom of somebody's driveway. I rode it as my fixie commuter for two year then returned it to its original 12 speed glory and sold it to somebody who needed it more than me. (I know, too much of this and we will have to revive the NEVERENDING bicycle thread!).

    As to Joy of Cooking, it's the part of the turtle recipe where you keep and feed them for a couple of days before making them into soup that I couldn't imagine doing. I could see slaughtering a pig or cow myself- but a turtle? I like turtles. A man's got limits.
    I had turtle soup once. It was in elementary school and a kid's mother came in with a turtle and talked about how they kill them and open up the shells to get at the meat (there is a “key” on their underside you can pry up). I think she had grown up in Appalachia. She didn’t actually kill the turtle, but after the presentation, she spooned out samples from a crock pot. Half the class was disturbed and the other half tried it. I tried it. It was…delicious.

    Reviving the NEVERENDING bike thread is good by me. I can talk that stuff all day! (well maybe half the day. The other half is for riding) My Trek frame (560 series) was made in the USA and performs great, even under load - steel is real! I had been using it as my commuter with a rack and at times lots of paperwork, but we moved and now I ride mostly on unimproved ditch roads, so its not as useful (riding the SS 29er now – that’s a fun commute!). Looking to sell it actually. But it’s a great bike a fits me well. Previous owner overhauled with campy cranks, ultegra DR and brakes, and unknown hollow core wheelset (he took the stickers off which enhances the mystery). I’ll miss it, but I have three other bikes, so its only fair I pass it along.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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