Friday, January 24, 2014

24 January “Other’s who Choose the Past: Sometimes it is just a nice place to visit, You may even choose to Live there.”

I am finding, thanks to the modern invention of the computer and internet, that there are more and more people choosing to live a vintage life.

These two short films show a few examples of people willing to take the step back full time. Even those with children seem to find it a doable life. I often find these are people who live overseas. For some reason those I find in the USA haven’t got past the simple decorative lifestyle. I call it the “Film Set” lifestyle. It is about setting up a sort of stage of items, old boxes of dish soap, antique makeup etc, but they are not used. They are set down upon shelves to be looked at.

I admit when I first began my project I had somewhat of that obsession to buy and buy more things to get the ‘look’. But, as my project required me to use as much as I could, I had to dig in and take that item down and use it. And when I couldn’t get old soap flakes, I had to see how they made their own. This last step of not just wanting another decorating style but to actually change your life seems the final magic element that is life changing.

This past year I have tried to be more modern. To simply slip back into the modern ways, but I see it is not so easy. I am like the depressed traveler back to work, dreaming of the sun soaked beaches of that lovely holiday only to be burdened by the endless drone of my working day. But, for me, the holiday was the past and the working day the modern world.

I certainly would like anyone to prove me wrong that it seems there are more clubs and groups of people living the lifestyle overseas than the USA.  It would be great to know there are more people in this country who aren’t just in it to decorate their homes. When you peel back the glamour of simply changing your decor by having the ‘look’ of that vintage magazine on your coffee table,  but you actually start reading it you begin to think differently; to evaluate the modern world and what is imporant in it and what is a load of stuff and nonsense, When you begin to immerse yourself in old radio and music and the shows and the books do you begin to feel the reality of it. You start to think things like,

“I had better save that last bit of soap. How can I make that weekly meal plan more economical?  What is a better way to run my home. How can I save ?”( a very outdated idea to the modern average person)? How can I help myself and others in ways that does not involve just using a credit card? What is a better way to even get around.”

Really when it comes right down to it, what that last step into the past does do is it simply makes you THINK. Sometimes I feel like the modern world is so fast and so many things are just being shown to you all the time that we don’t think. We buy what is shown to us in between the shows we have to watch and are too busy to do more for ourselves or to even consider our budgets to notice the debt we are all in. A 20 year old boy in 1955 earning the then minimum wage of $1 an hour (now over $8 an hour when you adjust for inflation) wouldn’t have thought, “Buying a phone that costs two weeks wages? and then paying a service plan for it that costs two weeks wages each month? Sure that sounds like a great idea!”

I have many vintage things now. I was lucky enough last year to finally get a really good running 1953 GE refrigerator. Many people thought I was crazy and said, “Oh, they are not cost effective,. they waste energy” But somehow that didn't’ seem like it could be true.I had a good think about it.

It was better made. It had been running non stop without repair since it was purchased new. It has a single door on the outside that clamps tight with the old handle so the seal on the door is so tight. We have found that it uses less energy, as it rarely needs to turn on. It does not have a frostless freezer, as do modern versions. But, we found with this that it does not dry out food. This we discovered because it isn’t running the defrosting mechanism which takes more energy and is always sucking out air when it drains out the frozen vapors that are required to have a frostless freezer. I also have never bought a new refrigerator that didn’t die after a few years and this one has never stopped running since 1953!.

I found out that modern fridges are mostly foam in the doors and walls covered with metal laminate. This old version is basically built like an old car from the 1950’s using steel and air to better conserve the cold inside. IT was built when quality and longevity was important. This is good for the look of the thing as well, but the reality of it is it really is a better product cheaper to run and cheaper to buy. And there is a certain satisfaction when I hear that door hinge open and close or when I pull out that metal enameled crisper drawer with its shiny chrome. It has a weight and gravitas that a cheap plastic drawer in a modern fridge could never mimic.

I think my next big move towards better past living will be my car. I intend to keep moving back in time with that. I currently have a Volvo station wagon from 1997. Last year we considered trading it in on a newer used version of the car from the mid 2000’s. After hubby and I test drove it we couldn’t get over how the newer versions did not feel as solid as our older model. And the more rounded bigger shaped interior took away more leg room and made visibility less good. We decided to keep her and instead just do more repairs as needed. But, a car of this decade still has computer chips. My goal is to get to a car that does not.

I would love something from the 1950’s or earlier but they are rather dear and first and foremost we must consider our pocketbooks. So, I wish to get something maybe from the 1970’s learn a bit about basic maintenance and what we can do and what our mechanic can handle and then as we learn, moving back to an earlier version car will make sense for us. With the ultimate goal to be a car from the early 1950s or even to the early 1930’s and simply keep it forever with proper maintenance and care.

Well, that was all a bit of a ramble wasn’t it? But, you can get my overall gist of the thing: Learning to look to the past for the good. Then you find yourself wanting to emulate it for its interest and beauty and then diving in deeper to find more joy and reality in the past then one sometimes gets in the future.  It is hard sometimes to walk this tightrope between past and present and it would be such a dream to find a town somewhere that simply wanted to rebuild to the past. Who knows, if the economy continues to decline and we find ourselves at the tail end of another housing bubble, maybe a town will be available cheap. I can see the advert now:

FOR SALE: One town. Small business lost to malls and big box stores. Production converted to overpriced lofts and Retail. Failed Retail moving to Internet Sales. Completely abandoned now ready for enterprising time travelers to rebuild. Good arable land. Plenty of space to grow. $1

I hope all have a lovely day and enjoy the shorts:

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