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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Nostalgia - the way it used to be

I'm getting pretty old now. Old enough to remember when to get a good shave you would buy a pack of 'blue blade' for your safety razor. The first shave was great. The second somewhat scratchy. By the third you were in danger of doing yourself an injury and only an Indian Fakir would contemplate a fourth. Then along came the stainless steel blade. What a fuss. Un-American, Communist plot, bad for your health. You should have heard the blue blade manufacturers go on. After all, up till then, every clean shaven person in the world had to buy about a pack a week of their blades. What a great business model. Now they keep bringing out new fancier razors every few months to get you to buy equipment you don't need.

What was the company that brought in the stainless steel blade. It was a small obscure company called Wilkinson. I wouldn't want to repeat the experience but I remember one year in college when I was strapped for cash and actually managed to go a whole term on one blade. By the end of the term, the blade never actually scratched me but I had to almost scrub the whiskers off with multiple passes.

Is this an unabashed plug for Wilkinson. You bet your boots it is. I figure forward thinking of this type which has so much benefit for the customer deserves customer loyalty and I have never bought anything but Wilkinson since.

And what ever happened to that egg beater my mom used to use. I'll tell you what. My sister got it. When sis went out on her own, mom set her up with her basic equipment including this egg beater. I don't even know what it was made of. It wasn't ordinary steel because it didn't rust and it certainly wasn't stainless. The beater blades came down close to the shaft and then flared around into a basket. If you are of the same vintage as me, you might remember a similar one. It was pretty heavy compared to the modern ones and would beat an egg white into fluffy submission in under a minute. Mom had it ever since I can remember. Anyway, mom figured that she should have one of the pretty stainless steel models which would look better hanging from the kitchen tool rack. Over the next 30 years, she must have bought a new one every couple of years as they broke. Sis is still using the one mom gave her.

Am I being an old fart. Probably. Not everything old lasted longer than the latest version and of course, we only remember the ones that did. There did, though, seem to be a few real winners. That super robust transmission that never gave any trouble. That engine that just kept going regardless, the chair that was so well built that it never started to creak and three generations of the family have eaten dinner sitting on it.

If we are going to survive on our little island whizzing through space we have to get back to these types of items. We need to buy an egg beater when we get married and pass it along to our children when they get married. Sure companies will have to down-size but that is the objective of the whole exercise. Yes they will use less energy and less materials and the power generators and mines will have to down-size. Yes, many people will make lower wages but they won't need such high wages if they don't have to buy a new egg beater every couple of years. Most of all, we have to patronize companies that make the reliable, long lasting equipment. Just as with illicit drugs, the users are the true villains, with equipment purchase, we, the users have it in our power to change the world for the better. Buy Wilkinson

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