As I thumbed through the flyers offering merchandise for the modern home that arrived in a thick envelope, I found one item that seemed out of place amid all the gewgaws intended to make microwave cooking, computer use, and auto maintenance easier. In fact, the text below the manual typewriter being offered as a “last chance sale” promoted its old-fashioned portability with lures of “Lightweight, non-electric design goes wherever you go!” and “Use anywhere–No electricity–No cords.”
I wonder if this could be the start of something small, a parade of new old products. Customers who enjoy simplified versions of songs buy Unplugged CDs. Why wouldn’t they also love the retro style of an unplugged home? Because I like to jump on bandwagons going in reverse, I am merrily rolling out some oldies but goodies that are a century behind the times.
Ditch that blinking nuisance on the nightstand that blasts you awake with a torrent of noise and replace it with a windup alarm clock that not only provides exercise when wound at 10:30 PM but also at 6:00 AM when tossed across the room.
The washtub that you take a bath in with water heated from your wood stove is the same one you use to improve muscle tone in your arms and upper body as you come clean on washday with your clothes.
Let the trend seekers flock after the refrigerator style of the moment. The Ralph & Alice icebox will always be chic in Retroland.
Ceiling fans make some rooms look like heliports. Hand fans with the lettering “Compliments of Mason’s Funeral Parlor” will always move any wind you inherit.
Kerosene lamps supply wonderfully atmospheric illumination in any room and are conveniently portable. (Try carrying a cantilevered floor lamp up a winding staircase.) And the hand puppets you create while sending garish shadows across bedroom walls are more terrifying than anything on Syfy or HBO.
But before I purchase huge quantities of abacuses, razor blades, brooms, and tin cans (with strings attached), I am going downtown to check on the availability of empty warehouses. Now which car should I drive, the Chevy Volt or the Nissan Leaf?