Shopping for school supplies  sparked excitement, anticipation

Shopping for school supplies sparked excitement, anticipation

Photo by Kiy Turk on Unsplash

August 2022

Everything Old

Shopping for school supplies sparked excitement, anticipation

by Corbin Crable

 

New academic year

Though we’ll soon be enjoying the final vestiges of summer, there’s another big event about which to be excited: the beginning of a new academic year.

Parents, of course, will soon rejoice because their kiddos will finally be out of the house for a while, and the kiddos themselves will be back at school, learning and finding their way into good-natured mischief with their friends.

If you’re like me, there are things about school to which you always looked forward (Hello? Am I the only one here who actually enjoyed school lunch? Especially those little square pizzas?).

When getting ready for the new school year, there was plenty to enjoy. I remember that, around late July, my elementary school posted lists in the front windows of which students would be learning under which teacher. The day those class lists were posted, it felt like checking the call-back list for a big stage production – you heaved an audible sigh of relief upon seeing your name listed under Mrs. Finney’s class, and you quickly scanned the list to find out which of your friends would be joining you in that classroom.

Or maybe you uttered a groan when you found your name on Mrs. Altweis’ class list. The anticipation on that day was palpable, and you either went home feeling relieved or heavy with a sense of dread.

Shopping for school supplies

But the best part of getting ready for another school year was going shopping for school supplies. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the 1980s, when He-Man, the Thundercats and the Ghostbusters were all the rage among boys; the girls, meanwhile, had characters like Barbie, Rainbow Brite, and the Care Bears.

Thanks to the wonders of merchandising, these characters were seemingly everywhere – including notebooks, pencil cases, backpacks, lunch boxes, and Trapper Keepers (Do they still make those? Hmmm…I wonder…). These characters didn’t just help you make a new friend with similar interests, who watched intently as you withdrew your Smurfs pencil case from your backpack on the first day of school; they felt like status symbols that marked their owner as one of the cool kids.

“No, Mom, not that one!”

“No, Mom, not that one!” I remember protesting as my mother suggested a modestly decorated, generic lunchbox while we went shopping for school supplies at Kmart the summer I was about to enter the fifth grade. “I’ve gotta get the Ghostbusters lunchbox. I’ll look totally lame if I don’t have one!”

Well, I did get that Ghostbusters lunchbox, and, as predicted, my classmates took notice – especially the boy I had a crush on, who nodded at me as I proudly strode into class the next day.

“Hey, man, cool lunchbox,” he smiled as I walked by.

“Yeah, thanks,” I replied nonchalantly, trying to act as cool and composed as possible, while on the inside, I was grinning from ear to ear.

All of this goes to show that, as you’re browsing the aisles at the store this month, school supplies must be chosen carefully. After all, they just might spark a connection and create classroom friendships. Happy back-to-school shopping!

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com​

Play ball! Baseball rules, customs looked very different a century ago

Play ball! Baseball rules, customs looked very different a century ago

July 2022

Everything Old

Play ball! Baseball rules, customs looked very different a century ago

by Corbin Crable

 

Play Ball! Baseball Rules

Fan or not, there’s always something to enjoy, when watching a summer baseball game.

I’ve never been a sports fan, but I still made some wonderful memories in my childhood, going to summer baseball games played by our beloved Kansas City Royals. Our entire neighborhood would rent a bus and drive out to the stadium on a warm July evening, where I didn’t know much about what was going on there on the field, but nevertheless, I enjoyed the food, the cheers of the crowd, and the people watching. Even now, I do my best to make it to at least one Royals game each summer.

Baseball fans

Longtime baseball fans are well aware of how much the game has evolved since the 19th century, not just in the rules of the game, but in the culture and conduct surrounding it, too. Daniel “Doc” Adams, considered one of the founding fathers of the sport, wrote “The Laws of Base Ball” in 1857, meticulously outlining the game’s rules (New Jersey’s Knickerbocker Base Ball Club developed the game’s rules in 1845); Adams himself invented the position of short stop, and he was the game’s very first to play in that position.

Adams’ book

According to Adams’ book, many of the standards we observe today were listed. Among them – Adams established that each game be played in nine innings and that the bases must be set 90 feet apart from one another.

Much like historical re-enactors, there exists a number of baseball teams that adhere to the rules, uniforms and conduct of certain eras, such as the Mountain Athletic Club, which, according to the club’s website, is “fashioned after the original team established in Griffin Corners, New York, in 1895.” MAC is a member of the Vintage Base Ball Association, which welcomes vintage teams from around the country to gather at its annual convention. Who knew so many vintage baseball enthusiasts exist? The subculture is a surprisingly large one, to be sure.

Included in these teams’ games are a great attempt to not only play by the rules of 19th-century baseball, but also to stick with the look, too. Uniforms tended to be heavier, with sleeves and full collars. It’s certainly hard to believe that athletes played while wearing uniforms that could be so uncomfortable and cumbersome, but then again, that’s merely the opinion of someone living in the present day, accustomed to the look of our modern-day uniforms.

Louisville Slugger

Of course, when it comes to baseball bats, the Louisville Slugger remains the gold standard, used throughout the game since the 1800s. The brand made the news just a few years ago when a Virginia woman found an original J.P. Hillerich & Sons Louisville Slugger hidden in a closet in her home. The bat, manufactured in the 1890s, since there are relatively few late-19th century specimens in good condition, has been estimated to be worth between $5,000 and $10,000, according to a July 18, 2018, article from Forbes.

If you can’t find a vintage baseball team playing in your neck of the woods, an affordable trip to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in Louisville, KY, would make a fine summer road trip for you and your family.

Whether you choose a vintage game or a contemporary matchup between two pro or Minor League teams, you’re sure to appreciate the fun (and even history) inherent in America’s favorite pastime.

 

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com​

June weddings have been popular for hundreds of years

June weddings have been popular for hundreds of years

Photo by Orio Nguyen on Unsplash

June 2022

Everything Old

June weddings have been popular for hundreds of years

by Corbin Crable

 

Wedding season

With the arrival of the summer season comes another season in tandem – the wedding season.

June -since ancient times

It seems that everyone knows someone who is cleaning and pressing their finest outfits in order to attend a wedding, be it local or a destination affair, throughout the summer months – most notably June. According to The Inspired Bride, nearly 11 percent of couples tie the knot in June (the least popular months, unsurprisingly, were the winter months, with January coming in dead last of the most popular months for a wedding). The month of June has been the most popular month in which to say your vows since ancient times – after all, the month takes its name from Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage and childbirth. The ancient Romans believed it was good luck to marry during this time in honor of Juno, a symbol of female virility and fertility. On a more practical note, some chose to marry in June so the conception of their first child could be timed for a birth that wouldn’t interrupt work on the spring harvest. That wheat won’t harvest itself, after all!

Common Reason to Marry in June

A much more common reason to marry in June: Since bathing was done with much less frequency than today (if you or your family were poor, you usually only bathed once a year), June weddings were popular in centuries past because many people took their annual bath in during that month. If you were planning on getting married soon, you knew you would smell your best around that time — regular bathing didn’t become a more common activity until the 17th century. Also, in June, fresh flowers and herbs – which the bride carried in order to cloak any potential body odor, obviously — were in season and thus more readily available.

Bouquets of Flowers

In order to convey the time of year in which their wedding took place, with the advent of photography during the Victorian era, wedding photographs became part of a tradition, and even though bathing was more common, brides were seen carrying bouquets of flowers in order to convey the time of year.

Sunday weddings

Even though June remains the most popular month in which to get married, other traditions fell out of favor as time passed. For instance, Sunday used to be the most auspicious day for weddings, according to The Farmer’s Almanac. In the 17th century, Puritans in the New World put an end to Sunday weddings, believing such celebrations to be inappropriate on the Sabbath (those Puritans just didn’t know how to have fun, did they?).

In the late 18th century — the early years of the United States — Wednesday was considered a lucky day for weddings, as it was identified in this old rhyme: Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday best of all; Thursday for losses, Friday for crosses, Saturday for no luck at all.

Of course, we now know that with the 40-hour work week, Saturdays have replaced Wednesdays as the most desirable day of the week on which to wed.

If your summer vacation or journey takes you to a wedding of a friend or loved one this month, consider yourself now supplied with plenty of factoids to impress your fellow wedding guests. It will make the time pass more quickly as you wait for the happy couple to cut the cake!

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com​

Let’s go camping this summer

Let’s go camping this summer

May 2022

Everything Old

Let’s go camping this summer

by Corbin Crable

 

Arrival of Summer

With the arrival of summer, it only seems appropriate that our editorial content in this issue include ways to welcome the season for which we have been waiting. Our cover story, a piece on vintage campers, shows that for decades, families have hit the open road in search of adventure, whether it’s on the other side of their state or around the country.

Bewilderment of Camping

I haven’t always been a fan of camping. When I was in Cub Scouts, I remember harboring feelings of bewilderment that anyone could possibly enjoy sleeping in a tent in the forest, surrounded by strange noises and the potential for bug bites around every corner. The concept of gathering around a campfire and your clothes smelling like smoke for multiple washings afterward sounded awful, and I missed the comforts that television, air conditioning, appliances and electricity provided.

Modern-day Camper

Of course, that would be considered “roughing it,” I think, when compared to the modern-day camper, which provides those comforts while still allowing its owners to enjoy the beauty, sounds and serenity of nature. When I entered adulthood, I gave camping another try – this time, with a camper in tow, and I was both surprised and relieved to find that I was now a fan! In fact, my one “bucket list” item in retirement is to buy an RV and drive across the country (thankfully, I have a couple of friends who have expressed a desire to join me, though I’m certain we’ll make plenty of friends along the way). It will feel like the great American road trip on steroids.

Online Tips and Tricks

What you’ll learn in this issue is that the appeal of the camper and camping itself is greater than its very history. There even exists an online community of people who own vintage campers and trade tips, tricks, and tales of their outdoor exploits. The Internet in general and social media specifically have provided a place where these enthusiasts can get together and discuss their love of vintage campers and how to keep them in good repair so they can lengthen their life on the open road.

 

 

Meetup groups for Camper and RV lovers

There are even meetup groups for camper and RV lovers, allowing them to connect with one another from across the miles. With names like Camper Connections and Alumapalooza, there’s sure to be at least one in your region.

Thanks to these groups of like-minded people, we can enjoy the great outdoors while connecting with others along the way. Exploration is more fun in groups.

It’s also more fun with some of the conveniences of home, allowing you to focus on the beauty and splendor of nature without having to worry about having your basic living needs met. Save that struggle for participants on reality TV shows!

Avid Camper

If you’re an avid camper, may you enjoy a summer of adventure and new, exciting experiences. May you enjoy the thrill of a road trip with your old friends and revel in the joy of making new ones. And may you always return home with a head full of lifelong memories and entertaining tales of the open road on your lips.

 

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com​

Here comes the ragman – reuse of household items has old roots

Here comes the ragman – reuse of household items has old roots

April 2022

Everything Old

Here comes the ragman – reuse of household items has old roots

by Corbin Crable

 

You’re going to learn quite a bit about the recycling campaigns born out of the 1960s and ‘70s in this issue of Discover Vintage America since Earth Day is in April. You likely learned about them in elementary or middle school – characters, slogans and PSAs designed to drive home the importance of reducing waste in the name of Mother Earth and her health. Hopefully, you’ve carried them with you into adulthood and passed on the wise lessons they trumpet to your own children and grandchildren.

Eco Club

I remember joining my middle school’s newly formed “Eco Club” in seventh grade. In Eco Club, we learned all about the importance of recycling, reducing waste, and reusing items that could find a second life as something else. Often, we’d pick up trash around the school grounds. Even though it seemed like a menial task, I was proud to do it. I was making a positive impact, however seemingly small.

But did you know that efforts to reduce waste and reuse everyday household items were concepts that existed long before that period in postwar America? Your own ancestors were conscious of the importance of conserving our resources, not just in the name of reducing waste, but in an effort to go easy on the pocketbook, too.

 

According to a 2020 article on History.com, in the 19th century, “People recycled far more than we do now,” says Susan Strasser, author of “Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash.” “If the elbows in a shirt wore out, you’d take the sleeves off, turn them inside out, and voila: new shirt. If a dress went out of style, you added new buttons or sent it back to the dressmaker to fashion a trendier frock. Event-ually, the fabric would be turned into a quilt or a rag rug or just a rag.”

Recycling modern concept

Recycling, however, is more of a modern concept; in fact, in the 19th century, it was nearly unheard of. Back then, Strasser notes, there existed “the ragman,” a worker who went from one house to another in a neighborhood and bought your scraps of used cloth that would later be made into paper.

Garbage pickup as we know it today was introduced in the later part of that century, and city employees separated the reusable waste from that which was unusable, instead sending it to a landfill. If you and your family lived on a farm, you were likely to see your mother save organic waste to feed to the barnyard animals.

 

All of this is hard to imagine in the 21st century, when we are used to recycling centers doing the proverbial heavy lifting for us. But it’s fascinating for those of us who are passionate when it comes to the benefit of recycling in a world where our precious natural resources and wildlife are in danger of the wastefulness of so many of us.

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” isn’t just a catchy, alliterative mantra. It’s a reminder that the very least we can do to help protect our planet has been practiced for years, and that we owe it to our ancestors, our families, and those who come after us to continue these practices in the name of preserving the beauty of our Earth. We hope that, in this issue, you’ll learn more about recycling efforts from the past 60 years or so and see them through fresh eyes – and that when you’re done reading this issue, we’ll find our way into your recycling bin.

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com​