Who's Who at Mountain view

The simple life, without open windows

By Barbara F. Dyer | Feb 15, 2014

While obtaining pictures, etc., I feel like writing about times when life was simple and quite peaceful. It was about days before computers, cell phones and other technology. Don’t get me wrong, I really am trying to be “with it”, but irritation prevails.

Next week I shall go back to writing about some wonderful people, who made Camden, and are resting at Mountain View Cemetery.

My computer has been playing games with me - not vice versa- since the middle of December. I do have deadlines and when it comes up that the internet is not available, I freak out. Of course I thought it was the computer (it's 3 years old); they become out of date the day after you purchase them. At times it did work, but who knew when that might happen? So, I bought a new laptop, which experts told me not to buy because they all had Windows 8 and caused everyone trouble. I ignored the warning because the salesman said, ”You just have to close each window.”(In telling this to a friend, who has no computer, she asked, “Why do you have your windows open this time of year?”)

Anyway, the price of the computer tripled by the time they put on what I needed, and things the computer needed in software, which were necessary for my work. I tried to be a good companion to that computer and even held it in my lap as I do the cat. But I did not have the time to go all the way around Robin Hood's barn to keep closing windows and also the procedure to shut it down. Staples was good (“that’s easy”), and let me return it, as the computer and I were not compatible. It turned out that my old computer was fine, but the “smart meter” for electricity burned out the modem (making me wonder what it was doing to me, but I did not have time to think about that).

Don’t get me wrong, I do like computers. It is much easier to type, leave it and correct it. No more carbon paper and erasers and onion skin copy paper.

Maybe you are fortunate enough not to know what those items were. I do, as I made typing mistakes and had to erase a copy or two. You lifted the paper, lifted the copy paper and erased the mistake on both the original and copy. Then replaced it all and typed the mistaken letter with the correct one or two.

Twenty years ago, I got rid of a large oak office desk that held everything and more too. It was a big part of my life for 35 years. The spacious top was wonderful, but it had many large drawers that were filled with supplies that I might need – sometime. The largest, deepest drawer was the last and I emptied it into a carton and took up in the attic. I haven’t used anything in it yet, so I guess they were not treasures that might be needed. Now the whole attic is in need of cleaning out and a few days of trying hardly made a dent. Well, these are some of the things that many readers today won’t recognize. They are almost antiques.

The box contained carbon paper and onion skin paper. Who will ever need it again with copying machines and computers? There are pen holders and pen points to go in them, as well as a bottle of Carter’s ink. How many a year since I or anyone else has used a pen like that? You had to wet the point, dip it in the ink, and when used only a short time, you had to dip and dip again.

Then there was the fountain pen. Owning a Parker pen and pencil set was the ultimate, so that is why I probably had several. One had to put a very thin, fragile piece of lead in the pencil and fill the pen with ink (less dipping that way.) In the box are some cartridges of ink for the pens.

Now we all use ball point pens. In our throw-away-society, we use those and when the pen doesn’t write anymore, we just throw it away.

Ribbons for typewriters, but I certainly won’t need them. The old typewriters made it easy to pound out letters. Then I advanced to an electric one, but I was so used to hitting so hard, the poor electric one practically took off into space from my touch.

Before the copier was the mimeograph machine. One typed a stencil and ran it off on the machine. Our Camden High School year book was printed that way in my day.

Oh, guess what? I found some correction fluid, because if you typed a wrong letter, you filled in that letter and could then type over the stencil. Not being a typist, my life was full of mistakes. You might even call it a comedy of errors.

Not today, the computer tells me if my spelling is wrong.

It is hard to imagine that I worked so long, when work at the desk was so hard. But we did not know about the wonderful things that would come along.

The first adding machine I had in an office had 10 keys down and 10 across. After hitting it many times, I just had to pull the crank. Calculations of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, you did in your head, because you had learned them in school. A calculator was unheard of.

There was sexual harassment in those days, but not called that. You just learned to moved quickly and ignore it all. If that didn’t work, the muscle in your arm was so strong from cranking the adding machine, you did just fine.

Well, everything that the Transfer Station didn’t receive is in a much smaller box of things that I might use someday. If I don’t use them in the next 20 years (2034), it will no longer be my problem. They will find my “Treasure Box” as a unique gift.

Barbara Dyer is Camden's official town historian.

Comments (2)
Posted by: William Pease | Feb 15, 2014 11:41

Doggone, I love your writing style. It reads just as if you were sitting beside me talking: lucid, open, & freely. I must say, again, how much I admire that, dear lady. Many thanks.

Bill Pease, Lancaster, PA (but a Rocklander still, at heart)

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Feb 15, 2014 09:46

My, my,  how I do remember the old and the new in office procedures. The old handle pull adding machine, the adding up purchases on a paper bag before that; good old Camden Five and Ten and old Dave Crocket. Are we all getting older Barbara? Somehow it was an easier time, in my thoughts anyway.

Mickey "Brown" McKeever

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