When my cousin Margaret was a little girl, her mom (my Aunt Nancy) came across a whole collection of empty popcorn boxes stuffed into the back of her sock drawer. How come? As it happened, a few weeks earlier the family had been to the circus, and when the show was over, Margaret felt so sad for all the empty popcorn boxes being left behind that she gathered as many of them as she could carry and took them with her to give them a good home.
Do you ever feel sorry for inanimate objects? Things left behind and unloved, like old shoes dangling from a phone line? Here’s a site (courtesy of my friend St. Frank) that specializes in taking care of Old Sad Things. As BeeJay, the owner and chief gamekeeper of the site says: “I like old sad things.”
Do you? What’s the oldest, saddest technical thing you can recall being used as directed (i.e. not by a collector, not with irony)? I remember lots of Polaroid pictures from my childhood, and not from the fancy shmancy SX-70, but the old Model 360 with its goopy, smearing film and the pop and crinkle of its disposable flash bulbs. I still remember the shredding sound our family’s Bell & Howell projector made when our family movies slipped the sprockets. And every film ended with the rhythmic whap-whap-whap sound as the loose end of the film reel flapped freely. And the slide carousels for the slide projector… click… clickety-click click. The pictures came out upside down as often as rightside up.
It’s funny that as I sit and try to recall these old sad machines, what I call back most easily are the sounds.