practicum wrap-up update: pictures of old things!

09Feb10

Yes, friends, it’s been almost a week and I’m still riding the coattails of the high-on-life feeling that my secondary practicum gave me.  I could fill the month until my elementary placement with lengthy ruminations and fantastical daydreams that allow me to relive my time there, and I’m simply dragging out the blogging part of it so I don’t have to admit that it’s over.

Or perhaps I’ve occupied my time with packing my life up and returning to the big city for my sister’s baby shower, spending the weekend with family and reuniting with friends.  There’s even a slight possibility that one primary aim of this post is to distract my eyes from the still very full suitcases that adorn every nook and cranny of my apartment.

In any case, this post is, for me, a fond remembrance of the time warp that is my hometown.  I can’t help it: I love old things.  I am fascinated by the relics of how people did things before computers, what jobs people had before everything was outsourced, and how tasks got accomplished before the advent of battery-operated devices.  In my highly romanticized vision of all things old-timey, everything is simple and earnest, with just a hint of whimsy.

In this regard, my hometown is a perfect time warp.  Sure, a lot of things have changed.  The bowling alley is now a Dollar General, and the gas pumps (finally) accept credit cards.  But so many aspects of the homeland are just as they’ve been since long before my time.

For example, there’s my favorite watering hole, where I stop to enjoy a ginger ale and converse with the bartender/owner:

(thanks to mr. yehl and facebook for the photo)

Yep, that picture is from 1926.  And, except for that big sign in the front, everything else about the building is pretty much the same… including some of the wallpaper, to be sure.

Then there’s the drug store.  I walked the three blocks across town to the the local drug store, in search of some index cards for a sweet lesson on plagiarism (more on that in a different entry).  What I found on their shelves indicated a rich history, spanning back before Microsoft Excel and iPods:

I wanted to take a few more snapshots, but the nice woman working was the mother of one of my classmates, and we got caught up in a wonderful conversation.  It was very small-town, old-timey blissful.

Of course, we can’t forget about the school, where I spent most of my days.  Where I could look out the back window and see the very field where my father performed regular feats of athleticism:

(thanks to mr. yehl and facebook for the photo)

My old man is number fifteen, and he looks like he’s about to make a line drive for the photographer.  Does that even make sense?  I don’t watch very much football.

However, I didn’t spend too much time looking out the back window, because I was busy honing my librarian skills… and digging through the back room, which was a treasure trove of artifacts from my youth: carousel slide projectors, overhead projectors, tape decks, and VCRs.

There were obscenely large LaserDisc remote controls:

And a large collection of vinyl, some of which I would admittedly love to have in my collection:

Not to mention the 35mm film strip projector, which I got to clean up and test on the unbelievable occasion of a special request:

It worked!  And it made me very happy, even though the special request was actually for a reel-to-reel (!).

As I was testing this, one of the middle school students poked his head in and asked me if that’s what I did all day.  I looked at him and said, “son, I perform a multitude of tasks for the betterment of your fine library media center.”

He rolled his eyes at me, then squinted at the projector.

“Have you ever even seen one of these?” I asked, recalling the many filmstrip presentations of my youth.

“Not in real life,” he responded.

I tried not to act aghast as I invited him over to check out the machine.  One of the strangest things about working with high schoolers is knowing that these people have never dreamed of owning a Walkman or gotten a paper cut from a using card catalog.  I was talking about this with one of the English teachers, and she mentioned how teaching Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart is becoming more difficult since it has less resonance with students as each year passes.  She pointed out to me that today’s tenth graders have no concept of the ticking of an analog clock, the strongest image in the story.

As I started to shed a tear in bitter sorrow, pining for the glory days of yore, I remembered that I’m way too young to be feeling so old.  So I decided that it’s a good thing for me to be so fascinated by these obsolete items from my past, because I can share that knowledge with the youngsters in the library.   Maybe they can see how simply things used to work and how far we’ve come, and they’ll understand that they can start somewhere simple, too.

Because that kid, who very clearly had no interest in being in the library that day, was intrigued by an outdated projector that none of his teachers had ever used.  Because he actually abandoned his apathy for five minutes as I showed him how it worked.

Because, as he left, he turned back to me and said, “you would be an awesome librarian.”

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One Response to “practicum wrap-up update: pictures of old things!”

  1. 1 Blythe

    I LOVE this description of the kid being interested in the film strip projector. And your comment “son, I perform a multitude of tasks for the betterment of your fine library media center.” What a hoot!


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