Buggy whips and chamber pots

Posted by Ken Campbell October 29, 2012 0 Comment 1218 views
Some of the students in my Outdoor Ed classes take leaves from the plants we’re studying so that they can look at them later or use them as reference aids during the next quiz. One of the kids told me last week that some of her leaves were cracking and drying out, weren’t much good for anything anymore. I told her that if she wanted to keep them looking good, she should put some wax paper around the individual leaves and press them between the pages of a phone book.

“A what?” (The look I got back was approximately the same one I would have received if I’d told her to grind the leaves in a cyclotronometer and furzy their schlomber veins with gildbladder root until they plasticized.) As it turns out, there are high school kids out there who aren’t familiar with the idea of a phone book.

And why should they be? As a society, we have moved past that anachonism and are moving on to the next big thing. You can’t expect every kid to be a historian… it’s work enough just being a ninth-grader.
It got me to thinking about some of the other things that are no longer with us. I have slide projectors, for instance, two of them. There’s a “dissolver unit” that I used to use with them to fade one slide into the other… very high-tech not so long ago, yet now so completely obsolete. (Truth be told, I still use the old magic lanterns every two or three years to look at pictures of the glory days and I’ll probably use them right up until a bulb burns out. That will be the end of them, I figure.)
There’s another item that I used to see as essential, that I still appreciate, but that I fear is also going the way of the betamax and the dodo. Captn Jack’s tide book, a staple of my paddling life these past couple of decades is looking less and less like a necessity for 2013. With a tide and current app on my smart phone and a passel of web sites to choose from, I have options that I didn’t used to have when it comes to predicting the rising and falling of the brine. I still like it – in the way I like my old, tattered down booties, but there comes a time when the old must give way to the new.
This looks like the year to say goodbye to the Captain. For all his fine years of outstanding service, I offer this salute. I’ll leave it to Jimmy Buffett to do the honors.
“They’re sending the old man home
Back where the buffalo roam
Out in the Pacific, they say he was the best
Now he’s in his civies, headin’ home like all the rest.
The sailors will dance in the street
Then they’ll mothball the whole damn fleet
We’ll only have the picture books of land and sea and foam
Cuz they’re sending the old man home.”

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