John Grindrod: What Was Once Common Today Often Isn’t Anymore
When it comes time to make sheets and towels in my crib, I always think of two people, my mother and my neighbor Suzanne Kelley. Now, my mother and my very good neighbor, to my knowledge, have never crossed paths, but they have one thing in common. They were both, in Mom’s case, and are, in Suzanne’s case, very skilled in folding fitted sheets.
As for my mother, I remember the perfect fitted sheet squares after they were ironed. As for Suzanne, well, I’ll definitely take her daughter Quinn’s word for it. At a recent family reunion, the topic swung to my frustration with fitted sheets, both that pesky issue of socks not drying completely when the dryer buzzer goes off after they’ve cleared a way into the corners of fitted sheets and my long-abandoned feeble efforts to fold them old school.
Following my rant about fitted sheets, Quinn looked at me and said, “Go knock on the door and ask my mom if you can look in the linen closet, and you’ll see fitted sheets. which look exactly like the top sheets.
That’s when my niece Jessie turned the conversation around saying, “Whoa, back up!” Grandma Grindrod used to IRON sheets? To which I replied, “Yeah, right after she ironed Dad’s tissues,” which added another layer to Jessie’s disbelief.
Despite Jess’ reaction, the fact is that these articles were regularly ironed out by, dare I say, most of those wonderful women of the 50s and early 60s. As I drove home from our family reunion, I had to laugh at our conversation about tissues and sheets and what that represents about changing priorities over the decades.
So what else has fallen back into the shadow of obsolescence? As for fashion, although I didn’t pay too much attention to women’s clothing when I was young, I looked more closely at my father and his contemporaries. Men like my father, a steel and copper wire salesman, when they dressed for work, almost all wore a fedora, those soft felt hats curved at the brim showing a crease lengthwise. Nowadays I would have to stream a TCM movie with a young Mitchum, Garfield or Boogie to see one.
As for Dad, I also remember those half-handkerchiefs with the box that had the dyer’s name on the bottom and a flash of color on the top. They were meant to be put in the breast pocket of the suit coat to accessorize by matching the tie. In order to find one now, you’ll probably have to hop on eBay. And, of course, for my dad, this brush was passed around this cup every morning in the bathroom of this little ranch in the middle of Latham Avenue before he soaped his face and shave, and these shoe trees were inserted in that pair of shiny wingtips once they come out at night.
For me, in terms of things from long ago that have fallen out of favor over time, there’s one thing that stands out that has been the bane of my existence, because math and science was largely foreign languages to this humanities guy.
This instrument was the slide rule. Now, I guess looking back, I should feel lucky that I wasn’t supposed to master the abacus. If I had known the calculator wasn’t so long away, I wouldn’t have worried so much about trying to figure out where to slip that clear plastic necklace to get the right answer when I was an LCC neophyte during my second half 1960s. According to the post “When Slide Rules Ruled” in historictech.com, “The humble slide rule is the simplest of all mechanical computers ever invented, yet has remained the de facto tool for most businesses for several hundred years.”
But, to me, there was nothing humble and certainly nothing simple about the fucking thing! As a boy I loved words, and as I progressed through my English lessons from year to year my love grew for phrases, clauses, sentences and paragraphs, especially how to connect them, how to punctuate them and how to make them flow. The only numbers that ever mattered to me were sports related like points per game, yards per gain and batting averages and earned run averages, and I sure didn’t need a slide rule. stinking to understand them!
Thanks only to the benevolence of the Almighty, I have indeed had the opportunity to have seen so many changes in my more than seventy years, not only in global concerns, but also on a much smaller with what so many of us once did. , once worn and once supposed to use it to find square roots, as if the latter had ever played a role in my life.
So, I think I’ll pass on the invitation from Quinn, Suzanne Kelley’s daughter, to jump across the street and take a lesson in folding a fitted sheet. However, as a fan of TCM movies and almost anything historical, it somehow comforts me to have this lovely lady a few hundred yards away who can still make a folded fitted sheet looks like a top sheet.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, freelance writer and editor, and author of two books. Contact him at [email protected]