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Re: conversations

Re: conversations2010-04-23T00:25:18+00:00

Patte Rosebank
Post count: 1517

Hey, kids! Let’s go off on a tangent!

I love obsolete technology!

I write with fountain pens and have a collection of bottled inks (including a couple of 50+ year-old bottles of rare and long-ago-discontinued Skrip Melon Red) that I fill them with.

I have a manual typewriter that I sometimes use, because I like the clicky sound of it. It reminds me of learning to type in high school, on big manual Olivettis. And I have a pack of onionskin paper and sheets of carbon paper (for you youngsters out there, that’s how people used to make file copies), to go with that manual typewriter.

In my parents’ basement, there’s an old Singing Machine—one of the earliest models of karaoke machines. The backing tracks are on 8-track cartridges, and the lyrics are printed on songsheets that you keep in a small binder. I’d saved up money from my first-ever summer job (1984) to buy that beast when it was state-of-the-art, and it cost a whopping $500. It’s the very same model of machine & model of rack o’ 8-tracks that Ranger Gord (on “The Red Green Show”) had up in his treehouse in the early seasons. Since “Red Green” was shot at CHCH then, I suspect that the machine & rack were the same ones used in the Singing Machine commercials that Billy Van did at CHCH in the 1980s.

Also in my parents’ basement is a 1914-model player piano, the kind with foot pedals that you have to pump, to make it work. With it are boxes of modern piano rolls (QRS in Buffalo still makes them), and antique piano rolls (that I’d found in flea markets and an old, long-gone shop in the Byward Market that was like a time capsule). I used to play those rolls for hours, wondering who had first played the antique ones. Since I moved away, nobody plays that piano, so the mice have eaten the leather bellows. My parents’ cat is useless.

I have my grandmother’s old sewing machine. It’s one of the best that Singer ever made, and it’s practically an industrial machine. All-metal construction, gear-driven, and it does all sorts of fancy stitches, depending on which pattern wheel you drop into it and which code you set the levers to. Today, all that would be handled by computer chips and a touch-screen.

I love the clicking sound of a record being played. There’s also a warmth to the sound that you don’t get in digital music files.

My dad still has an old tube radio he got in the early 1960s, and the Commodore 64 he bought us in the 1980s. Both still work.

And somewhere, I still have the first cassette-player Walkman clone I ever bought, purchased from Consumers Distributing (which went belly-up in about 1993, I think). I miss Consumers Distributing. And Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street. And Eaton’s. And penny candy that actually cost a penny. And chocolate bars that only cost a quarter. And especially the old red subway cars on the TTC.

(Okay, now I feel old…)