Old is New Again

When I was young, we poured over the wish book, also known as the Sears & Roebuck catalog or the Montgomery Wards catalog. Rarely did we order anything, but I distinctly remember getting a first-day-of-school dress for second grade. Size 6X. I do not know why the X. Does that mean chubby size?

Mom sewed our clothes, so getting a store-bought dress was HUGE.

My sister got a dress, too, and we talked about the dresses for weeks while we waited for the order form and check (adding tax and shipping & handling charges) to get to the mail order plant and the dresses to come via post. Our small Arkansas town didn’t have mail delivery, so we walked the few blocks to the post office each day.

Our town didn’t have a mom-and-pop store that sold clothes, but there was one in the town five miles away, but that was a longer distance then than it is now. That’s an odd thought, but trust me, it’s so. Dad drove our car to work. And whoever heard of having two cars?

I studied the picture of that dress so many times, I can still see it in my mind’s eye—multicolored plaid shirtwaist, puckered-at-the-shoulder-seam short sleeves with a button on the narrow cuff, and a white collar.

Fast-forward to today, and I still order the same way. But now I search the catalog online instead of turning thin pages in a thick book. And with streamlined delivery, I don’t have to wait weeks. If I want to pay extra for shipping, I can have an order the next day, usually within two days, and certainly within a week.

Back then, groceries could be ordered from a local store with a phone call, and a boy would deliver them, all packed in a box. We didn’t have that convenience at Lutman’s store in my town, but I’ve seen it on TV in old movies. Now that’s making a resurgence, and Walmart has order-and-pickup and even delivery in certain areas.

What’s next? My brother-in-law thinks the milkman could make a comeback.

What’s sure is that life circles back on itself, sometimes in serpentine fashion. We seem to be going back in time.

Which brings me to the Hubble telescope. I’ve read a bit about it and looked at the incredible pictures of countless billions of galaxies in the universe. If I understand science-speak, the light the telescope is collecting to make the images is from light years in the past because of the time it takes for the light to reach us. Therefore, scientists think they are seeing into the past. The new James Webb space telescope that will go in space in three years will see even farther into history.

Fascinating, isn’t it?