Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Limits of Nostalgia

Over on Pinterest you can find endless ideas for chalkboard paint.  Anything, it seems, can be turned into a black chalkable surface: benches, wine glasses, walls, cupboard doors, trays, and jar lids.  Even little chalkboards.

Some of the ideas are really cute, and I might try a few some day, such as the painted file cabinet.

However.  I have my limits, and my theory is that only a white-board-and-dry-erase-marker generation could go this crazy for black chalkboards.

I went to school and also taught for three years to the tune of clicking and scraping chalk.  I associate chalkboards with white dust on my hands, with erasers that became so loaded with dust they left a white swath behind, with standing on the steps after school like a real pioneer schoolmarm and clapping erasers while the dust blew off in the wind, with that unique chalk-dusty smell that was wonderful on the first day of school but by the end of April, when you were up at the board with a 12-year-old boy who had just come in from a hard game of softball on a hot day and couldn't figure out 3-digit multiplication, the combined smell of chalk and everything else made you want to haul in a pressure washer with soap and bleach, and hose down the board, the boy, yourself, the whole room.

Also, at the crucial moment when you were trying to teach decimal-dividing to fidgety sixth graders, suddenly every piece of chalk in the room would be down to bare nubbins and you wouldn't have any more in your desk drawer.

I say "you."  But maybe it was just "me.

Those of us who have experienced stuff first-hand have our limits on how excited we get about it on Pinterest.  Chalkboards, Amish stuff, manual typewriters, milk buckets, rotary dial phones, and ticking alarm clocks.

I wonder which of our things will be displayed on our grandchildren's mantels and end tables as vintage treasures.  Clear plastic bathroom soap dispensers?  HP Officejet printers?  Tupperware Fix-n-Mix bowls?  Styrofoam drumstick trays?

And: What will they wish I'd saved for them that I toss in the trash now with cavalier disdain?

Quotes of the Day:
Me: So, when they gave that history at the Mennonite Home dinner, did they have it right about Frank and Annie and all that?
Grandma: 'Bertha' said they did NOT get it right!  It wasn't just Frank that did all the work!  Loras Neuschwander would go up there a lot with his cat.
Amy: With. . .his. . .cat??
Me: Caterpillar!  Big earthmoving machine!
Amy: Ah.
*     *     *
Ben: Where's Stevie?
Emily: I wonder.
*     *     *
Me: [getting Sunday dinner ready] Someone put ketchup in something attractive.
Emily: [gets out ketchup bottle] Here, Steven, open wide.


  1. Tupperware as home decor? You betcha:

  2. OOoh... I don't like that thought of what kind of stuff my grandchildren might have sitting around - as the antique and vintage treasures, persay.

    It certainly ain't going to be pretty.
    Then again... If I REALLY hang on and continue to use what functions, works and has value (however sentimental that may be) it might hang around for another 20-30 yrs. Why change what works..?

    And yes. Reading the reality coming from one (you!) who walked the other side (as a teacher, etc.)... I can totally see where we have completely "romanticized" a lot of things of our past. It is a flipped coin. That's for sure.
    Your quotes of the day are hilarious.

  3. We just did a wall in chalkboard paint, it seemed a better option than whiteboard paint, because I was pretty sure the markers wouldn't limit themselves to the wall. Chalk dust has to be easier to clean :-)

  4. I really enjoy reading your blog! The quotes of the day made me chuckle. 😊

  5. The last quote was the best. And yes,teaching stinky school boys...well...gives new meaning to the health lesson our 7th graders are getting this week.

  6. I hope the cherished thing will be an old picture of family (me maybe?) or one I took of the grandchild.

    I love that Emily got two quotes because they were both so great...it is sweet that she thinks her brother is attractive (while simultaneously being an eat anything boy!)


  7. ha - I love the last quote! (My sister in law's family calls ketchup "fancy red sauce" and puts it in a pretty dish)

    I was a teacher who used chalk and chalkboards and LOVED them. I hate/hated whiteboards and the stinky markers. The sound of chalk, the smell of chalk, all good with me. I probably walked around with chalk smudges on my clothes, but I don't know: it didn't bother me.

    I would never, not even for a moment, consider painting something with chalkboard paint, however. Tooooooo trendy!

  8. @Margo - Trendy can work in your favor sometimes, we thought a chalkboard would be well for our homeschooled kids to work problems, practice writing etc and thankfully, because they are trendy, it was really cheap and easy to get a BIG chalkboard :-)

  9. It wasn't until I was in high school that we had whiteboards. For the longest time I thought my geometry teacher had really bad b.o. until I figured out it was the markers. It was very distracting. I would have traded it for chalk dust in an instant.

    With upcycling being the green trend I think a lot of things we use will be changed or modified, more so than treasured in their current form.