Wednesday

Why I like old stuff.

I figured it out, and I didn't even have to pay for a counseling session to do it.

The short answer, and the one I give most people is that things were made with a much higher standard of quality, and that many of the things that i gravitate towards were even hand made, giving them an energy that new things lack.  But there is a much deeper reason, one that goes all the way back to my childhood, and that may even be true for the lovely people who read this blog.

I was having lunch with friends when the topic of antiques came up.  It was everyone else's opinion that people who collect things are simply holding onto junk that should have been thrown away long ago.  Except my house of course, and added that my stuff is different because it is cool.  Anyways, after a little more conversation I realized that they don't like old things because they grew up around antiques that they weren't allowed to touch, and that much of it was junk and not functional.  The whole moderne movement came from this very problem of too much fuss, not enough function.

When I was a kid, I watched a lot of tv.  I was also pretty close to my parents and the things that they did or said had a lot of influence on me.  My dad in particular grew up watching television while, I presume, his parents went out on the town and to parties.  Subsequently as a kid I found myself watching tv with him a lot, and with cable tv and specifically "Nick at Nite", I watched most of the shows that he watched as a kid; The Brady Bunch, The Munsters, Leave it to Beaver, and Gilligans Island were among my favorites.  Added to this interesting mix of shows that came in different shades of gray, were the commercials.  Before showing real commercials, they would often show a commercial from the era of whatever show you were watching to add to the atmosphere I suppose.

I was also influenced by print media from a whole other era, I inherited national geographic magazines from a neighbor once and I would spend my time in my room reading them and because they were a current events type publication, what i read would be in a non-historic context.  I learned a lot about specific eras in a non-kitschy way and at a young age so to me it was perfectly normal to grow up liking those things.  I would also spend a lot of time at my great grandmothers house (which you can read about here ) immersed in a 1950s world.

In 7th grade I did a book report on One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and did a hanging mobile (influenced by Calder I suppose) about communism to go along with it.  My teacher acted impressed but probably thought my parents dropped me as a baby.  I got an A.

A lot of my friends find it strange that I am so drawn to the mid century era, and specifically the 1960s, so much so that perhaps I border on insane to them.  Well, maybe but when you consider that I grew up doing and seeing a lot of the same things that my dad did having actually grown up in the 60s it makes sense.  I like other things too, from other eras, I love many many old things but the mid century era makes me feel at home and comfortable.  Having a house that is period correct feels right, and allows it to function better.  My wife and I live a perhaps slower life than other 25 year olds, but we enjoy it.

2 comments:

Amber Von Felts said...

I have had similar self exploration discoveries as to why I love old stuff and my exuberance of searching behind dumpsters and thrift stores. No surprise, the "habit" came from both of my parents! Thanks Mom & Dad. The apple really doesn't fall far from the tree huh?

Justin said...

Thank you for opening my eyes to a view I had never really contemplated about my enjoyment of mid century modern. My wife and I, live/collect/obsessively love, in what has frankly been called either "a yard sale puked in your house" to "my grandmother had this when I was a kid". Many of your same reasons resonate for myself and my wife, but your laying it out for yourself, it solidifies it for me. Thank you for the words.