Old Fashioned Words Rarely Heard Now

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



As technology propels us into a realm of words and expressions we’ve never imagined, some words have quickly faded from use. I’m sure many teens of today will not even know what some of these words meant or what the items are used for in everyday life.

Just the other day a Donna Summer’s song came on the radio that had the line “dim all the lights and put your old victrola on” as one of the stanzas. I am positive this word would most likely be a mystery to most people 40 and under. This invention was a phonograph from the Victor Talking Machine Company in New Jersey, but eventually the word became the generic term for any brand of phonograph back in the day. My grandmother had one, and I remember as a child that the turntable was powered by winding up with a handle that made the springs move. She stood by to make sure I didn’t “overwind.”

Two other words that took on names from the real product were Thermos for a vacuum bottle and Jell-O for any brand of gelatin. These were very popular products back in the 1950s.

Lost Vocabulary

Who remembers wearing galoshes when it was raining? How did you put them on yourself or when dressing your children? To make it easier to slide your shoes inside your galoshes we put used Wonder Bread bags over each shoe. Imagine the schoolteachers who had to direct this same process at the end of the day when it was dismissal time.

How about when it was time to bake a cake and the recipe called for beating two or three eggs to pour into the batter? That’s when an eggbeater came in handy! Speaking of beaters, my grandmother had a carpet beater, made of wicker. It had a long handle and ornate bottom, shaped like a flower. She took the small area rug outside, hung it over the clothesline and then beat the rug so the dust would fly out. Speaking of clotheslines, some adults might think why use one when you can throw things in the dryer. There is nothing more refreshing than sheets and pillowcases hung out to dry in the sun. By the way, a snippet I read in the PennySaver stated that “Clothes dried outside do smell better because of a process called photolysis. What happens is that the sunlight breaks down compounds in the laundry that cause odor, such as perspiration and body oils.” Don’t forget to have a supply of wooden clothespins on hand, skipping the plastic ones, to really go back in time.

When it comes to gadgets, how many youngsters have used a rotary phone or even a typewriter with ribbon? Think about the heavy, first time Walkman portable audio player that everyone thought was the best invention ever! Now it’s long gone and obsolete.

Both vocabulary and the useful items we thought were so great move on at a rapid pace, yet in memory remain on the nostalgic list of days gone by.


September 19, 2018 |

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