Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ghosts of Christmas Past




So I am wandering the aisles of my favorite store, ACE Hardware, the small town Home Depot.  I call this idea shopping, looking at what they have and then trying to figure out if I could do anything with it.  It is like a big toy box.  

Then I run across a Christmas display for a $49.99 Drone.  You got that right.  A remote controlled helicopter, complete with a camera.  Pretty cheap I thought, and then I thought what the f@ck is this doing in a hardware store?  Apparently drones are for sale everywhere now, including the local candy store and head shop.  Apparently, it is becoming a tradition to fly a helicopter around your house during the holidays.  At this point, a piece of flotsam lodged in my brain.  Something was familiar.

Fast forward a week or two, and I am browsing through the aisles of Lowe’s Home Improvement in Sierra Vista, Arizona.  Same thing as ACE only much bigger.  Bigger store, bigger ideas.  When what should my wondrous eyes behold, but another Christmas display.

No drones here.  Instead they had the latest new fangled gadget for the home.  A 3-D Printer, only $899!  Again, what the f@ck is Lowe’s doing selling computer peripherals?  Then I sort of did the math.  Why saw cut those blocks of wood to make bookends.  Have the computer and the printer sculpt them out of plastic for you.  And…..we take one step closer to living the Jetson’s lifestyle.


There was that feeling again.  Something from the past. Then it all came back to me.  These were the same toys that I played with so many Christmas ago as a child.   We had the same helicopter back in 1965 on that snowy holiday in Iowa.  The helicopter was attached to a long counter-weighted pole and revolved around a central tower, but the same thing.  Showing the rest of the family my flying skills in the comfort of my grandparents living room.  

Forward a year later to that cold winter in Minot, North Dakota when I got the hottest Christmas gift that year (literally hot).  The Vac-U-Form toy maker.  Essentially a hot plate that heated a sheet of plastic, that you then laid over a mold and sucked all the air out of it.  Once again, making plastic toys in the comfort of your own home  

So in those intervening 50 years, nothing has really changed.  They have gotten a bit fancier, but in the end, it is all about the toy factor.  Don’t even get me started on Spirograph.