Image: Pinterest

I was enjoying a lively conversation with a gal-pal whom I consider a kindred spirit. She is 94 years young and being in her company is fun — yes, fun! Over a cup of tea, she recalled how she got a man’s attention, way, way back-when. I was all ears. Remember, way, way back-when, dating sites like Match, OurTime and eHarmony were unheard of. Gals had to rely on their wits, she said.

With a twinkle in her blue eyes, she revealed that she often dropped her hanky in front of a “good-looking fella.” OK, she lost me. I asked: “Hanky?” (And simultaneously thought, “As in hanky-panky?”) She demonstrated her technique by taking a napkin from the dining room table (we have tea in the dining room, of course) and coyly dropping it.

Imagine doing that today? First off, do they even sell handkerchiefs? I remember in the “not-so-way-back-when” they were a gift staple. If you didn’t know what to buy, one resorted to a box of pretty handkerchiefs. Hankies were all pinned together in an attractive box. Another what-to-buy gift was a box of good stationery. Both have gone the way of dinosaurs.

While my brain was in “back-then“ mode, I wondered if any gals remember big-big rollers? They were bright pink, very unattractive and hard to sleep on! They have since been replaced by “hot rollers.” (Hot meaning heat element and curling irons.) Guys, do you remember using the “little dab’ll do ya,” stuff? Don’t care to own up? Let me jog your memory: Brylcreem is an iconic product for men’s hair styling. It is still on the market, but its popularity has waned in favor of newer gels and pomades.

What happened to Cabbage Patch dolls circa the 1980s? As I remember they were the rage for little girls. There was a whole line ranging from babies to the magical cabbage patch where cabbage patch babies were born. How? They were pollinated by magic crystals of the “BunnyBees.” OK, that’s a stretch! I thought they were scary little creatures and their birth story gave my friend’s daughter nightmares.

Phone booths are only seen on the old movie channel. Who remembers waiting on line to make a call or having a call rudely interrupted by someone knocking on the glass door? Often, the nasal sounding operator informed us that the call would be disconnected unless we dropped another coin into the slot. But the good thing was we could use the no coin excuse to hang up. Nowadays, when are stuck in a conversation that seems to be replaying an old story ad nauseam, we can feign a dying battery.

I read that movie attendance is at an all-time low. The studies suggest that TV movies are outdrawing movies in theaters. The streaming sites Netflix, Hulu, Acorn, Pluto and others are providing newly released films in the comfort of home. The days of taking a date to a movie and dinner may be short-lived. Food and a movie can be ordered in-house at a fraction of the cost — a pretty cheap date, if you ask me.

Mom and Pop enterprises “back then” were replaced by big box stores that are now being replaced by Amazon retailers. Consumers could soon find it pointless to take the trip to the physical stores. Main Street, USA has been chipped away by the explosion of big box stores. Imagine the wreckage that will be laid to waste when the “Route 58” types of sprawl are vacant?

I’ve pulled some stuff out of my memory bank that is considered obsolete. However, with the advent of technology, many other take-for-granted stuff will hit the road to obsolescence: banks, maps, encyclopedias, cameras, photo printing, travel agents, phone directories, address books and _____. (Fill in the blank.)

Be that as it may, some things should never become obsolete: common courtesy, kindness, gentleness and other-centeredness. Simply stated: We should strive to respect the dignity of every human being.

But do we?

When we take the temperature of today’s world; we don’t seem to be measuring up. But, I have faith that we humans can pull it together. The alternative? The “human” race as we know it will one day become obsolete.

Something to think about while reading the morning news!

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Celia Marszal-Iannelli
Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in 'retirement' — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.