When one is young, the whole world seems endless and new. Especially today with such advanced technology.
When I was a teenager, we were still anchored to landlines, clothes lines, TV antennas, and record players. Blow driers were the new rage, as well as curling irons — no more pin curls or big plastic rollers for me! I was planning my marriage, and wanted only the newest and best the world had to offer.
Now, being a couple of years shy of 60, I find myself appalled by technology and all the modern world has to offer. Now, much to my own amusement, I find myself going as far ‘retro’ as I can.
There is a lot to be said for the ‘old ways’. Much of what was ‘new’ in my day is now old, and I find it is still the best, as well as the things of my mother and grandmother.
My grandfather was a blacksmith, but he wasn’t a bad carpenter either. He made a lot of their furniture, and one piece I still have is the pie safe he made for granny.
I keep all the old items of hers and some of Mom’s in there. One day as I was dusting, I stopped to admire all of these things and it suddenly occurred to me that Granny’s porcelain covered cake tin was still useful.
So I hauled it out and baked a pan of brownies. It was wonderful! The brownies baked evenly, and nothing stuck to the pan. So I put away Mom’s glass pan and loaf pan, and began to look around for other old useful items.
Of course my beloved cast iron is retro, and is my basic cookware. But then I found another deep porcelain tin with a lid at a flea market that is perfect for lasagna and the lid fits both pans.
From there I began to dig out or replace items I remembered from my childhood. Mom’s flour sifter, soup ladle, the jar marked with measurements she used in stead of a measuring cup, and the baker’s coconut tin she used for cutting biscuits and cookies.
I bought a hand grater, potato masher and wooden rolling pin. I found a retro look clock to replace the digital one that gave up the ghost on the stove. I hauled out the sugar bowl and Greg bought me a salt pig like Granny used to have. And I realized my hand mixer I bought back in 1979 (which still works by the way) is also an antique now!
The sugar bowl reminded me of daddy’s favorite coffee cup, which came from the Bruno School cafeteria. Ebay supplied all the extra china I could want to match.
This particular china was manufactured for airplanes, trains, cafeterias and restaurants. It is heavy duty and makes great everyday serving ware, and even goes in the oven.
Out went the old plastic plates from Wal Mart and now I only use my retro china for every meals. I do have a set of china from Guam my Mother-in-law gave me for company and holidays, as well as the china we bought in England.
Going Retro not only means putting old items to good use, it is also a way of life for me. Every morning we make a pot of hot tea in my Brown Betty tea pot from England.
I keep my teabags in a tin, and while I now use an electric tea kettle Greg bought me, I still have and occasionally use my stainless steel tea kettle that heats the old fashioned way on the stove top.
I love tin cans! I remember as a child seeing rows and rows of them in the pantry filled with all manner of good stuff. Mon threw out her tins when she moved into her new house and bought class canisters.
I have hunted flea markets and replaced many I remember from childhood with a few extras I just like. I use all of my tins and fill them with the appropriate items, or use them for something similar.
When we were first married, I had a dish washer. With two small children and a busy life style, it was more convenient and just really ‘cool’ to be able to fill it up and have a machine do all the hard work.
When we last remodeled, I left the dish washer out. There is only two of us now, and there is just something so satisfying about doing my dishes by hand.
Often I remember standing on a stool beside my mother rinsing the dishes and begging to be allowed to do the actual washing up. We used to have ‘rights of passage’ as we grew up, and getting to do the washing up was one of them for girls.
My modern washer and dryer I do love. As much as I enjoy my retro lifestyle, some modern conveniences I could not live without. And yet, one of my favorite chores is hanging laundry out to dry.
It brings such a sense of peace and nostalgia to look out and see the clothes flapping on the line. And nothing can match of the smell of fresh laundry air dried.
That really sums up the reason for going retro. Nostalgia. A feeling of peace and remembering quiet, by gone days when the world was a simpler, kinder and gentler place.
Photos property of Leah McAllister.
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