Going back in time

May 14, 2014

2014-05-12 13.28.09There was once a day when we knew the model and make of every car on the road. Including this iconic finned Cadillac Coup de Ville that we spied while out on errands a few days ago.  Is it a 1960? The fins are a clue that it could be. More than 50 years old–whoa!

My husband always compares these kind of calculations to those made when we were younger. When we met, a car that old–50 years! — would have been a 1920 model. That puts it in perspective, doesn’t it?

2014-05-12 13.28.37This car looked like it was only minimally restored, still maintaining its original character. Back when cars had character. I could just imagine some slick dude cruising top-down on a Friday night.

When I first moved to Los Gatos, Calif. in 1984, kids cruised the main drag in their cars every Friday night. It was like a scene out of American Graffiti and so much fun to be part of, even as a spectator. Alas, the town put a stop to it not too long after. Another cultural artifact bit the dust.

2014-05-12 13.28.52

So it’s nice to go back in time in my mind. If you’re in my age group, those fins bring back a long-ago era, when life was so different. Not only were there fewer and more distinctive cars on the road, but we listened to music on these:
2014-05-09 12.28.50What is this?  Yes, it’s a record player. It’s a modern version of the old-fashioned one I used to listen to Beatles albums in the basement of my parents’ house.  I found it for sale in San Francisco at Urban Outfitters.

2014-05-09 12.28.39

Here’s the pink version.  Apparently, what’s old is new again — and at least among some young hipsters — record players and albums are back.

Like seeing the old Cadillac, this record player brought back memories of the first 45 rpm I ever bought: My Boyfriend’s Back by the Angels. After school I’d go downstairs to the old tan and brown record player and spin some tunes all by myself.  And I can still see my stack of albums sitting on the floor below our record player, with Meet the Beatles on top.

2014-05-09 12.31.33This teal roller skate is a modern and fashionable version of an old skate boot–but for us it was usually ice skating, and that’s what came to mind immediately when I saw this. Roller skating wasn’t so big in my neighborhood, but come winter, my father took us to the ice skating rink where we shivered as we circled the ice. My ice skates were white (boys wore black or brown)….like this one.


After skating, we’d knock slush off the blade as we put our plastic skate guards on for the walk to the little hut and our snow boots, then home. My mother wasn’t much for athletics of any kind, so she stayed warm and dry at home, smoking cigarettes and drinking Sanka.

175968761_8df1167b18Yes, Sanka was the decaf of the times.

film_tin_speaker-e1390966404181Instead of video, we watched films that came in tins like this. Home movies were taken and stored in smaller ones.


In the late 1960s I worked in a large retail store in downtown Rochester, NY (Sibley’s) and operated a billing machine that looked very much like this. I was very good at it, too.

IMG_1917I brought a typewriter like this to college with me in 1969.  This came along with it:

flickr-2866133105-hdThis, my children, is a typewriter eraser. It was our version of a DELETE key. Only not. If we made an error, we’d erase it with the wheel and brush the rubber pieces away with the other end. Of course, ours were much smaller than this photo.

The whole process was much easier if we used this:

0428ebefbfcae9dc17f35c887bf8bfa5or this:

603cb4236a98a461bd1ed9d5eb61cf04Very thin, erasable paper called “onion skin.”  Of course, Don Draper and especially his secretaries would be very familiar with these office supplies. They were the height of modern at the time.

Speaking of Mad Men, I’ll be sorry to see the series end next year. While it’s jumped the shark in many ways, I love the impeccable rendering of life in the 1960s and all the little details of the culture that bring back so many memories. Do you remember a series set in the same era called American Dreams that ran from 2002 to 2005? It had the same kind of perfect depiction of our lives back then and I loved spending an hour a week back in that world. When it ended after too few years, I was heartbroken.

What is it about the past that makes us love to visit it, even with all its flaws?



31 comments on “Going back in time
  1. I love looking at “vintage” everything. In “The Dick Van Dyke Show” I love the old televisions. In the first scene of “My Favorite Year” he talks about when Buicks were Buicks and Cadillacs were Cadillacs. If you haven’t see it, rent it.

    I’m sending this post to my brother. As a very young child he would amaze my parents by know every car simply by the fin or whatever design of a car. It was amazing.

    Love this post.

  2. My family was actually in a car accident with an 87 year old woman driving a car just like this. She hit us head on…not going very fast…but since her Cadillac was actually a TANK it totaled our car. Thank goodness none of us were seriously hurt. I could see driving one now for protection…but the gas would be crazy expensive!

  3. Ellen Dolgen says:

    Love this! So fun to relive some of the “vintage” greats!

  4. Great nostalgic post Cathy. I love Mad Men and will be so sad when it ends. It’s one of the best series ever!

  5. Ah, the roller skates and the onion paper bring back so many memories! We went roller skating every Friday night in my town, that is where everyone met. It was so much fun! What a fun post! I love to remember the “Good Ole Days”. In my house they visit quite frequently!

  6. Elena Dillon says:

    Love this!! Classic cars and everything vintage is “in” again. When my hipster daughter moved in to her own apartment her and her roommate bought a record player. I saw Hotel California sitting on the table and had to laugh. Thanks for the very cool reminder. =)

  7. Karen says:

    Erasable bond…my absolute favourite in high school and university. My recipe for any paper was as follows: 20 pages of erasable bond, one IBM Selectric, an eraser, GO! Write until all 20 pages were filled with text. First drafts were for losers. 🙂

  8. Haralee says:

    It is fun to look at all these obsolete and cool again things that were a part of our lives. My husband can age a car too and it helps with movies we just stray into, sort of like skylines that depict a city. I have my aunts Smith Corona typewriter that she took to college in the 1930s and my mother took in the 1940s and I took in the 1970s!

  9. Wow, does this all take me back. Way back.

    I brought to college an IBM Selectric with the type ball instead of strikers. It weighed about 250 pounds, so even though it was a great machine, no one ever asked to borrow it!

  10. Diane says:

    I love everything old. Or from the past! Old cars. Old gadgets. Old people. I guess that’s why I spend so much time in the past!

  11. Carol Graham says:

    My daughter once told me that she thinks she should have been born in the 50’s or 60’s. She realized that life certainly had its stress but not the pressure that we are all under today. She has always thought like an old soul, especially with her morals, work ethics and convictions. I appreciate that in her and it sums up the answer to your final question. Life may be “easier” now with all the electronics and automation, but it isn’t necessarily better. Helping my mom hang the laundry to dry gave us time to talk. Now most of us talk by texting – not quite the same connection.

    I am in the classic car business with my brother who has been doing it for close to 50 years — I love the nostalgia. Often when someone buys a particular car, it is because they had one ‘just like that’ years ago and they are always happy memories.

    Carol @ Battered Hope

  12. Mark Fine says:

    I wonderful nostalgic trip down memory lane. Captures so many things I had forgotten, but now thanks to you–I remember 🙂

  13. Ruth Curran says:

    Oh how I remember onion skin paper and those erasers with the broom-like attachment! In my early professional life, I was a stringer for a local newspaper. I can remember how excited I was when someone introduced me to White-Out! Talk about a shift in how I did my job!
    Thanks for this awesome trip down memory lane!

  14. Oh my goodness, that was a fun walk back in time! I remember every single bit of it, Carol. Such wonderful days. It makes me a little sad that the younger generation today has no appreciation of the simple things in life that we experienced…… And now I sound like my grandmother, so I’m going to shut up.

    • I find myself sounding like that,too. Life really was simpler. But maybe that’s the way it is for all young people, because our needs are taken care of. It really IS simple!

  15. Hi Carol! I’m not much of a car gal but you caught my eye with that old typewriter and eraser! Oh and don’t you just remember carbon copies???? Ugh….I can remember writing my first book on this little electric typewriter Thom bought me and as I typed it jumped and shimmied across the desk. Ever minute or so I had to pull it back in place and start over. I DO NOT miss those good old days! ~Kathy

  16. What a great walk down memory lane! Of course I remember all of these things — and now I’m feeling just slightly old! Typing paper and that funny-looking eraser! Yes, writing is much easier today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Carol


Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


I love comments, so if something resonates with you in any way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by–oh, and why not subscribe so you don’t miss a single post?


Subscribe to my Blog

Receive notifications of my new blog posts directly to your email.