Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & softcover book anthologies. Collections of her personal items/ photos/ memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian. The Smithsonian selected her photo to represent all teens from a specific decade.
Since newspapers have little information to print, and yet haven’t gone totally online, a recurring using-space broad theme is ‘senior’ and generally the specific is ‘downsize’. Maintenance-free smaller house is a catch-phrase that sometimes means an association has to be paid a fixed-fee and that group hires lawn service, driveway plowing, garbage pick up, if it’s a patio home or such. Leave your mortgage-paid-up dwelling for senior living; if there are stairs in your present home, that does become a real consideration.
The word-of-the-day, for the elderly, in the rolled up printed paper this morning, was ‘loneliness’. Artificial Intelligence robots are said to be somewhat better than a dog as the AI can talk to one who has no companion and the pet cannot.
Then the repeated verb ‘downsize’ was inked.
I opened a closet containing items seldom used, or totally obsolete. Ought to be easy to dispose of those. A 35mm slide projector was inside. Seems to have gotten heavier as my muscles aged. Two-thousand slides sat in Kodak carousels, and each box, holding 100 slots, was marked with the years and subjects. It was the 20th century when I began box 1. A square picture, got inserted upside down into a slot. To view, the carousel attached to a circle on the projector and rotated so each slide became magnified on my living room’s white wall. Yes, I do remember I once had a screen that had been used with my 16mm movie film. I’d pull up the screen from the bottom of its weighty storage rectangle, and stop at the height available where it affixed to a metal pole that was part of the back. With aging, the wall became easier.
Mousepads, and with pictures rather than one color, were stacked in a short pile. Some signified a souvenir from a vacation so the item would be a remembrance yet useful.
VHS tapes neatly formed what looked like a bookshelf. The 8mm camcorder in its travel case was on the floor. Tiny cassette tapes were magically made into VHS tapes at a developer; I, then, could easily insert into a special box so the tv screen could highlight the memory captured, and with sound. Reels of 16mm movie film had no sound. Projected 35mm stills had no sound. Oh it seemed so splendid to have movement, sound, and also color.
Opening a scrapbook-type thing of black and white snapshots, I also noticed the negatives from each roll held in envelopes for when I’d want a duplicate of a print able to be done by a photo shop. I felt in my pocket for my smartphone which is also a camera, and recalled having to take an entire roll, often of 36 ‘shots’, before I could bring that into a store to have positives made. And it was tricky to get the unused film into the sprocket holes so each could ‘advance’ as a camera snap was activated.
Why did I save a landline telephone! What did I do before lightweight speaker phones as I cooked a meal, or oversaw a homework lesson for one of my offspring? None of my grandchildren have anything but individual cell phones; would they even know what a phonebook was? Did I have one of those in this closet!
Rabbit ears. Now why would I have put these away? That antenna hadn’t been used on any television sets for decades. No wonder this closet’s been closed for almost that long. Guess if the space had been walk-in, I probably would have the metal stand used for my black and white sets. Might I find a clock-radio with tubes on a back shelf? A transistor radio was in folded cardboard behind the rabbit ears. And there was a shoe-box of audio cassette tapes, but nothing to play them on and I doubt there are any devices made for hearing these.
Downsize often means furniture, China cabinets, cartons of vinyl records without a turntable, some seasonal things no longer really needed. Might be more simple to sort those as few memories are made from a too-large armchair, but there are emotional recalls from dancing to a Frank Sinatra record, or seeing the unused CD’s that revolutionized music and put even what I’d listened to on 78 rpm into a tiny disc.