I’ve been hit by waves of nostalgia for those distant days at the turn of the century, 2006 to be specific, before the iPhone and iPad, before apps and Twitter and Instagram, when Facebook was nascent and unknown, before identity was a commodity to be bought sold or stolen for the price of a link, before crowd sources and shaming, when there was still such a thing as privacy and people still talked on phones, when a friend someone you met face to face and cars didn’t drive themselves or you to distraction will bells whistles and sirens.
I still own and cherish artifacts from that vanished age: CDs, DVDs, books, maps, magazines. I hold onto many things I feel worth preserving, ones like them someday will hang on restaurant walls to evoke nostalgia, the turn of the century a reference point in terms of objects lost.
Gone but it’s all still here, everything you need for the new century, here in the 1902 Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogue. The Columbia Grand Graphophone using 5-inch cylinder records. Or would you rather an Edison 1901 Kinetoscope, Improved Model for projecting moving pictures. But it’ll cost $105.
If it’s transportation you need, a 1902 Model Gents’ Kenwood Bicycle for $10.95. For the family, there’s the Farmers’ Leather Quarter Extension top Surrey, the body of seasoned lumber fitted with phaeton seats, 5 ft. 10 in. long, $53.75. High tech? On page 151, you’ll find an array of telegraph equipment, keys, sounders and batteries. Something more musical? Pages of musical instruments begin on page 174, the Acme Queen Parlor Organ going for $27.45.
A world of goods, large and small, from baby bonnets to tombstones, 1,602 pages of them, ending with Acme coal furnaces from $47.70 to $79.20. “Write for special information.”
I’m writing for all the tens of thousands of items, asking what happened to you? Where are you now, the bits and baubles, remains and ruins, derelicts and detritus, metal and molecules of you? Where are you 1902? I sense you somewhere. Where have you gone? I have to know. I’ll soon be joining you there.