Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Having Trouble Finding Mayberry?
A few of you have commented that you're having a hard time finding the old-fashioned things in your city. My entire life I've cultivated a sort of Internal Old-Fashioned-Finding Radar so I thought I'd share what I've discovered.
For me, old-fashioned living begins in my own home. I'm learning to take my decorating hints from the old Blondie movies, 1930's decorating books--and now--from the blogs of my retro kindred spirits. I have a record player and from thrift shops and yard sales I've collected Big Band Era albums which I enjoy playing when I'm home alone and cleaning house (in an apron, of course). Or I'll listen to old tv series on dvd... ones like Leave It To Beaver, The Waltons and The Jack Benny Show.
When it comes to cooking, I peruse my old cookbook collection, ones with gorgeous old photos, tweaking the recipes by lowering the sugar and fat content. Often I browse through my 1920's and 30's The American and Good Housekeeping magazines there at my dining room table--and if my Big Band music is playing and I'm in the aforementioned apron--well, it's awfully easy to imagine a 1930's world out my front door, rather than the 2007 one.
I realize many of you have old-fashioned living down to an art in your home, and it can be outside your home where it's difficult to find Life As It Used To Be. Life Mayberry Style. Maybe I can help there, too.
For fun, I shop at our local supermarket, the one which has served our town since around 1930. This is one hopping place--many seniors shop here, but there are all ages, as well, and the atmosphere is always that of a party. Folks greet old friends with hugs and inquiries as to how their families are feeling and there's much laughter while the music plays over our heads. In the back, there are butcher and baker counters where you take a number and are waited upon by folks in white coats and aprons. I say hello to people in the aisles and receive an old-fashioned hello in return and when I push my cart outside of this store, all day The Old Days cover me.
But in our more modern supermarket I watch for the (usually) older women who dress-up to go shopping, ones who you can almost see their neat old-fashioned homes in your mind just by noting the style of their clothes and the cut of their hair. I look for well-behaved children and old-fashioned printing upon signs and friendly employees at the check-out stands. Just the whole supermarket experience can be a blast-from-the-past experience, because let's face it, though some changes have been made, the buying groceries process is still much as it was when June Cleaver wielded her shopping cart.
I drive around our town and note the architecture of our oldest buildings (most towns, I would imagine, have at least some old buildings still standing) and if they house 'hole in the wall' tiny diners, Tom and I enter and find old details inside...original counter stools with cracked vinyl and quirky aproned waitresses. Dining there, we feel we're doing a small part to keep local businesses going--and that, I feel, is rather an old-fashioned thing to do. We walk outside these diners and nearly always glimpse a tiny, retro-to-the-hilt barber shop with a man in a windowed-chair, leaning back, covered in white.
I might visit our local Farmer's Market, stroll around and watch the people there, and then drive to our city park and discover not only stationary retro stuff, but things such as families playing together in a place where families gathered (in my town's case) 60 years ago. And sometimes I even believe I glimpse those long ago families right beside the modern ones (but don't tell our local asylum. heh.). And I take walks through old, safe neighborhoods and note the old details on the houses and the way people care for the flowers in their yards and how they decorate their porches. I smile when neighbors stand outside talking to one another and I notice the occasional shined-up classic car. And when old trains blow their trumpet-like horns at crossings, I imagine people traveling to faraway places through the countryside.
And if you've read this far, perhaps you've realized that finding retro, seemingly-gone things in any town, anywhere, is often a result of viewing things through old-fashioned eyes. Old days and old ways are out there--you just have to develop your own old-fashioned radar system, keeping it ready and working by much use.