Sunday, April 25, 2010

Older than dirt

I receive a forward mail from a friend of mine, in which the originator starts with a nostalgic memory in old age. A young man asks him what kind of fast food the old person used to get during his youth. The person says, well there was only food available for him that was prepared by his mother and had to be eaten together with all the family members after his father returns from work, whether one liked the food or not!. So goes on the message with some more nostalgic memories and finally the person lists 15 items and asks reader to see how many of the things the reader has recognised. The listed items are :

Older Than Dirt Quiz:
Count all the ones that you remember, not the ones you were told about.
Ratings at the bottom.
1. Sweet cigarettes
2. Coffee shops with juke boxes
3. Home milk delivery in glass bottles
4. Party lines on the telephone
5. Newsreels before the movie
6. TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and were there until TV shows started again in the morning. (There was only 1 channel [if you were fortunate])
7. Peashooters
8. 33 rpm records
9. 45 RPM records
10. 78 rpm records
11. Hi-fi's
12. Metal ice trays with lever
13. Blue flashbulb
14. Cork popguns
15. Wash tub wringers
If you remembered 0-3 = You’re still young
If you remembered 3-6 = You are getting older
If you remembered 7-10 = Don't tell your age,
If you remembered 11-14 =You're older than dirt!

Well, I have a couple of my own nostalgic memories, which I would like to add to the list.

When India got independence on the 15th August 1947, I was only a couple of months away from my 4th birth day. So I faintly remember the euphoric celebrations at midnight in my town, not so big, having around 300 population and added surrounding village would not cross the 1000 mark. That night there was a huge gathering at the town temple square right in front of my house. Though I don't remember the details, I clearly remember that there were dozens of petromax (With pump and brightly burning mantle) lights and as there were celebrations everywhere, these bright kerosene lights were on short supply on the day!

Power came to my native town in 1958, till when we studied under kerosene lamps. There was one brand named USCO which was brighter and cleaner than other brands. There was only one portable USCO in the house for which I used to fight with my elder sister!...though finally we settled for sitting on opposite sides of the lamp and do our home work.

Another thing is the journey of the camera from 620, 120 and 35 mm films (I don't know of earlier ones!) to today's amazing digicams with so many options.

During marriages, professional photographers had to carry an acid battery hanging from his shoulder connected to the camera hanging on the other shoulder. And he needed an assistant to carry a lot of 'flash' bulbs and film rolls. Flash bulbs are of single use; the bulb fuses out with a bright flash along with shutter opening. Later electronic flashes came into use.

Those days the professionals preferred 120 size film rolls as the size would give clearer enlargements than 35 mm films rolls even though 120 roll contained only 12 films against 36 in 35 mm. The contact size picture of 120 film was around 2B size and to save enlargement costs many preferred contact size. .... And 620 was bigger than double the size of 120, almost a post card size! Rolliflex and Kodak are most preferred professional cameras, each costing over a five thousand rupees those days. Agfa Isolette, a cheaper one with fairly good results, was best suited for amateur photography.

I would like to add these two items to the above list to judge how older than dirt you are.

16. Kerosene lamps
17. Burning flash bulb cameras


  1. Well.. petromax brings back a lot of sweet memories from my childhood too! Before electricity arrived at farm house and we would sit in the hall and play cards (trump) with lots of insects surrounding the petromax.. with some of them making their way into our hair at times... I was probably 10 years old then..

  2. I could recognise 13 items. So I too join the elite club of 'older than dirt' fame. Anyone else??????????

  3. Yeh! 'tis certainly an elite club. The joys and thrills of the things mentioned in above list can never be experienced again in life; nor could the present generation understand it, except perhaps the nostalgia Saritha mentioned above. That too because I ventured into raising a horticulture farm at a godforsaken place almost right in the middle of forest, where it took over three years for power connection even though I was given a phone line within a year on priority because my life was at stake!

  4. One anna two annas...if you know the money in terms of polo mint holes made out of stones..