Sunday, December 03, 2006

Remembering Christmas Gifts Of The Past

I was in a store yesterday because I needed to buy some AA and AAA batteries. I found the battery display and grabbed what I needed. As I put the batteries into my shopping cart, my mind took me back to a time when I could never find a battery around the house that had some juice left in it so I could listen to an Orioles baseball game on my radio. The times have really changed and those "old days" do not really seem that long ago.

Does anybody even use these anymore? I did not see any 9 volt transistor batteries on the display rack. None.

AM radio was all I had on my transistor radio. Everybody had a transistor radio, it was a big thing to be able to not have a cord to plug into an electrical socket. It wasn't stereo either. Your headphones consisted of one earpiece. Nobody could have imagined what was to come in a short period of time.
I had one of these 8-track players when I was a teenager. Its hard to believe. 8-track tape was a big thing and we needed something portable to listen to them. Of course, this player was rather handy.......BUT.......nobody considered that you would only be able to tote around only one or two tapes because of their size. Those damn tapes never fit in your pockets and they ALWAYS got chewed up by the player heads. I remember thinking back then that it was some sort of conspiracy to get people to buy another 8-track to replace the chewed up one. Not me........I would perform operations on each chewed up tape. Scotch tape and a single edged razor blade..........and voila! I almost forgot.........there was a point when your 8-track player would wear and not seat the tape properly. That was when everybody whipped out the pack of matches and jammed it alongside the tape into the player! High technology........wasn't it? I imagine it was somewhat an indicator of the future of 8-tracks to have marketed a player that not only was called "Dynamite TNT"........but also looked like it was something you would use to send something off into oblivion. We all know now.

Do people still wear these shoes? I remember having a pair or two of desert boots. Everybody was wearing them. The big problem with those shoes was that they didn't do too well in rainy weather. They were comfortable otherwise and looked pretty good with Levi's.

I found this picture and caption during an internet search. I can remember that every January, after the Christmas vacation, I would ride the public bus system to go to school and just about 90% of the kids had these on the bus. Clack.....clack.....clack.....clack.....clack....clack.........


These things were notorious weapons disguised as a toy novelty. Aside from many of the kids using these to hurt others...........way too often, the clackers would return fire upon its users. They had this tendency to shatter or chip and send shrapnel into the eyes and faces of everyone in the near vicinity. When you think about it, it isn't hard to figure out that someone hated kids and came up with this toy.

Looking back even further.........I can remember getting a "Bob-A-Loop" for Christmas. A simple toy made of wood. A chunk of wood with a hole in it, attached to a string, that is attached to a wooden stick. The idea was that you would swing the chunk of wood at try to put the stick into the small hole. Hours of fun!...............except it would bruise the shit out of your hands each time you missed...........and you missed 99.9% of the time!

As I recall, the Bob-A-Loop was a Baltimore original.........a toy manufactured right here in Charm City. It may have become popular through a connection with the old "Romper Room" children's television program, which also happened to be a Baltimore product.

All of the items mentioned above were big hits as Christmas gifts. Each and every one of them had their down side to them. There is always a better improved product......a better mousetrap. Whether you give or recieve a Christmas gift this year, try to guess the longevity of the item. Imagine how that one day in the very near future...........someone will ask "what was an mp3 player?"

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