Holding Onto the Old Stuff

by Sherry Riter in Aunt Barbara,Aunt Janie,Gran-Gran,Memory

In our world of constant change, I still find the “old stuff” fun to look at and remember.

Today it only takes a user name, password and a few clicks to pay your bills online, however, less than a hundred years ago writing checks was considered the savvy way of doing business.

Old newspaper advertisement

One of my first jobs was as the assistant to an accountant. The office was lined with large ledger books which I found totally fascinating. Each book was filled with lovely green and white ledger sheets. My main responsibility was to help keep the accounts receivable and payable balanced. I added numbers on an electric adding machine a large portion of the day comparing the totals with those on the ledger sheets beneath the red line. It was more exciting than going to an amusement park!

Years earlier, some of my fondest memories were created as I spent many happy hours at work with my aunts and grandfather. My aunts kept the books and my grandfather did everything else at a lumber and building supply company in a very small town. If I wasn’t walking through the lumber yard with Gran-Gran (my grandfather), I was up front with my aunts (Barbara and Janie) watching them post to customers accounts as product was sold.

I was always mesmerized as their nimble fingers flew over the adding machine keys producing meaningless numbers on the roll of paper that seemed to endlessly snake over the desk. When the customers were gone, I was allowed to play on the adding machine and mimic my aunts’ every move.

No one realized how much I stared at them and all that my young brain stored away. I’m sure those experiences were the foundation of my love for numbers and accounting.

Some of the little memories that are indelibly etched in my mind…

  • Gran-Gran scrunching his face as he bent over to read the numbers on the adding machine tape
  • The gnarly wood surface on the corner of the desk where the laminate had chipped off
  • The way both aunts smiled a lot at the customers and remembered all their names
  • The sweet way Aunt Janie always touched my curls
  • Aunt Barbara coloring pictures and darkly tracing all the outer edges of everything
  • Gran-Gran’s beautiful penmanship when he wrote in the ledgers
  • Fresh lumber and paint smells permeating the air
  • Walking with Gran-Gran through the lumber as he counted it in his head and then writing it down on a little piece of paper that he stuck in his pocket
  • The endless and comforting love I felt surrounded by my grandfather and aunts

Sentimental and precious memories.

Just because technology increases and improves basic tasks in our every day lives, some things don’t change like parts of our personality.

I have a check book with my name and address printed boldly on the front with a little number in the top right hand corner. The batch of checks were accompanied by a check register with lines and a total column reminiscent of those ledger pages of long ago.

I still like the old stuff.

Anything particularly antiquated that you still cling to instead of moving into the technological generation?

The Redhead Riter

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 More Milestones July 25, 2010 at 3:04 am

I'm facinated by stuff like that. (Although numbers not so much) Old pictures, articles… oh, have you ever read old birth or wedding announcements? Really neat.


2 Marlene July 25, 2010 at 3:38 am

A lot of things in my life are about compromise….

I DON'T pay bills online.

I DO shop online.

I DON'T write checks at the store, I use my debit card.

I DO hold on to recipts and write all of my debits in my check register. (My daughter can't believe I do this.)

I love old music.

I maintain a record player so I can listen to our collection of albums from time to time.


3 ARS July 25, 2010 at 4:01 am

I'm constantly resisting technology!
I was carrying my little tape player around the gym well into the ipod era … did I mention I'm 25? I got some funny looks from my peers, but I'm just an old-fashioned girl!


4 alicia July 25, 2010 at 4:46 am

I'm a big purger, so I have few old things. But I do appreciate things that have sentimenal value. This post reminded me just how much things have changed in my lifetime. Crazy.


5 Doreen Lombardo July 25, 2010 at 5:43 am

As a young child, I remember going to work on a weekend day with my dad. He worked on Wall Street for a very large brokerage house and was VP in the computer department. He used to let us play with the old punch cards and we'd bring stacks of them home to my mom.

At 16 I started working summers for the company and I remember using an electric typewriter in the department I worked in that first year.

When I first became a legal secretary, I worked on Wall Street and we used the old floppy disks.


6 Doreen Lombardo July 25, 2010 at 5:52 am

Speaking of old things, I always loved looking at old headstones. When I was 14, we took a trip to PA and stayed at a family resort. There was a lake and large grounds and up behind the rooms was a very old cemetary. My cousins and I met some other teens there and at night, we'd go to the cemetary to sit and talk and get a way from the parents. We'd read the old headstones with a flashlight and some of them were from the 1800's, some possibly from the 1700's if I remember correctly. It intrigued me. I was amazed at how young some of the people died. I also would wonder what it was like when they were alive and what they were like as people. We'd have long conversations as to what we thought they possibly could have died from, what their lives were like and what it would have been like to live in that time.


7 The Redhead Riter July 25, 2010 at 7:16 am

My daughter and I enjoy going to cemeteries and often spend many hours reading headstones too Doreen. We always think that the graveyards are so peaceful. I'm not saying that to be funny…it really is quiet and peaceful!


8 Manzanita July 25, 2010 at 11:21 am

Sometimes I'm so far out of the loop that I don't even know I'm "out of the loop." A lot of change has passed me by and I didn't realize it was happening. I've watched my wedding gifts become antiques. Toasters were my bugaboo. Seems as if I bought a new one every other month. Then I found an ancient one where the doors flipped down and you had to turn the toast by hand (or it would burn) but it works wonderfully well and I love the toast.


9 Sharon July 25, 2010 at 12:35 pm

I have to say that I still love a lot of the "old ways" too. In fact, a lot of the new ways of doing things (paying bills online, for example) have lost their flair with me and I have gone back to paying by check. I also am a paper planner fanatic and still cannot bring myself to use an electronic calendar.


10 Jon Lee July 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm

I still have a checkbook. My husband and I keep a record of our checks and balance our checkbook. I do pay a lot online now and use my debit card for my little checking account that is mine exclusively. I like to wear some older vintage clothes, especially take vintage purses. I have a great velvet shawl from the fifties that I found in an antique store. I refuse to get a Kindle. My fear is that someday they will quit publising books, and I will have no choice but to go electronically.


11 Jannie Funster July 25, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Hi redhead! I liked your list of remembered sensory details. The smells of paints and lumber can be so wonderful!

I do tend to cling to old-fashioned letters-writing in fits and spurts.

And dish-washing by hand (but only 'cause our machine went on the blink a couple months ago and to buy a new one is not totally a top priority. (Weird, I know.) 🙂



12 writing4612 July 26, 2010 at 7:44 pm

I love thumbing through old books and reading what is wrote in the margins. I also love looking at old photographs.


13 Colleen - Mommy Always Wins July 27, 2010 at 2:27 pm

LOVE that old newspaper article – how cool!

I still prefer to keep a manual calender. I'm trying to give it up – my work provides me with a blackberry – but there's just something about pulling out a book and looking at your life…


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