Thursday, January 3, 2008


So, I was putting on my shoes this morning and, as I pulled my shiny shoehorn from the drawer, I wondered if anyone else OWNS a shoehorn, let alone USES one. Then I realized that, in this world of new-fangled gadgets and toys, there are still some old school tools for which there has been no adequate improvement, at least in my book. The shoehorn is one of those. Mine is metal, stamped with the GallenKamp’s name, a Santa Cruz shoe store where my brother, Greg, worked in high school. The shoe horns would gravitate home in his shirt pocket -- remember shoe stores with clerks?! I’m sure they gave them away to customers or I wouldn’t think they’d bother to have them engraved with the store name. Anyway, I have one pair of shoes that have a tall back that I’d rather not smash down quite yet so the shoehorn is used for that one pair of shoes. If I didn’t have it, I’d probably steal a serving spoon from the kitchen but it wouldn’t work as well.

My other old school favorite….my mom’s pastry blender. For those of you who don’t bake, it’s the other option for making pie crusts that isn’t a food processor or two forks. It’s used for blending butter cubes into flour in the first stage of making a pie crust or biscuits. When my mom passed away in 2004 (damn you, Alzheimer's!), my sister cleared out the kitchen and randomly divvied things between the siblings. I feel fortunate to have received mom’s pastry blender. Its red handle worn by my mom’s hands and wire "blades" tweaked just a little from years of use (and probably abuse by us kids).

I like to bake but never had much luck with pie crusts – they were always flakey and tasty but not particularly attractive. I’m sure I added too much or too little of something, or maybe I rolled it out too much or too little, overworked or underworked. I never cared much for a food processor either. One Thanksgiving, my mom called while I was making a crust for pumpkin pie. Because I was distracted, or perhaps because mom was sending good vibes, I mixed the crust absent-mindedly with the phone tucked between my shoulder and my ear. That was the first crust that ever turned out PERFECT. Once I inherited mom’s pastry blender, I feel Mom pitching in every time I use it.

So, what old school devise to YOU prefer, even in light of modern upgrades? Maybe you’re a straight razor guy who sharpens with a leather strap? Or you use a rotary lawn mower? Anyone?


Fred said...

I actually own one of those old reel type lawnmowers. I even used it a few times, but it was a pain in the neck. Didn't cut grass well and took forever to mow even my small lawn with. It's still sitting just outside my back door, all rusted up from non- use.

There's one old time thing I use that I don't know of anyone else of using. Not anyone I know, anyway: A shaving brush and shaving soap, as opposed to store bought shaving lotion aerosol cans and such.

The wife bought it for me years ago and I'm pretty much devoted to shaving that way. Warm the water up, wet the brush, work up a lather with the soap in the cup, and brush the lather onto the face.

Much easier on the skin for me than conventional shaving lotions. Cheaper, too.

Don't use a straight razor, though. Just a standard razor like everyone else.

Beachcomber said...

I know what you mean about the reel mower. My green size wanted one to mow my postage stamp-sized little lawn. I had it sharpened and all but once grass gets too tall and, heaven forbid, wet, it's useless. I finally freecycled mine. I think they're OK if you're REAL vigilant about mowing which, of course, I'm not.

My husband actually has a mug with shaving soap that he used for ages. When he finally broke down and shaved his head, I bought him one of the new-fangled electric shavers which is far easier for keepin' the whole noggin shaved. I think he doesn't like the idea of a blade near major blood locations.

Anonymous said...

I use Ticonderoga #2 pencils all of the time. I prefer them to pens or mechanical pencils. Now, that doesn't sound very old school...but, when do you see people using them.

And I use a typewriter at work for making adhesive labels. An IBM Selectric. Just try to get one repaired.

And a record player.

And cassette tapes. Doesn't sound too old school does it. Just ask your kids.

Oh, and pommade. But, that's only on special occaisions.