The other day, as I used a needle and thread to make a little alteration to my fly-fishing vest, it suddenly hit me: Sewing is a lost art! (No need to re-read the previous sentence. You read it correctly. I was sewing.) My mother taught me how to sew on buttons and darn socks long before I went away to college—where the skill really came in handy—and I still enjoy mending things by hand on occasion. Over the years, I actually learned how to use a sewing machine, and even made my first fly-fishing vest. Anyway, that got the old juices flowing, and I decided to make a list of all the things we used to do, each of which has become somewhat of a “lost art.”
1. Writing a thank you note – Now, it’s either send an email response, or a text, or, in many cases, do nothing at all.
2. Writing a letter – Really, when is the last time you wrote (or received) a hand-written letter?
3. Using a phone as . . . well . . . as a phone – Most of us now have a “smart phone,” which has turned us into a bunch of dummies. Getting someone to actually speak on a phone is like trying to make water flow uphill. It ain’t gonna happen.
4. Cooking a meal from scratch – I actually saw a TV commercial the other day for Meals in a Box. The idea is that, for a fee, you can have all the components of a meal shipped directly to you in a box. No need to go to the grocery store.
5. Baking anything from scratch – Most of us assume that when we buy a box of cake mix, or brownie mix, and follow the instructions, we are baking from scratch. After all, we are using the oven. Not quite. Actual scratch baking involves a recipe, which requires measuring, sifting, chopping, timing, etc.
6. Watching a live TV show – No one I know does this anymore. We all record our favorite programs, and watch them at a time that is more convenient for us—and always without commercials.
7. Having a face-to-face dinner conversation – We’re all familiar with the scenario of a half dozen people sitting at a table in a restaurant, each using a smart phone to surf the Internet, or text someone else at the very same table. Gone are the days of choosing dinner guests according to the scintillating conversation they brought to the table.
8. Driving courteously – When is the last time you were permitted (or allowed someone else) to change lanes, or make a left turn at an intersection, without a horn being sounded, or, worse yet, a middle finger being extended? I’m talking to you!
9. Balancing a checkbook – Checkbook? What’s a checkbook? Put it on the card! (I write a check occasionally, but mostly I use the check register to record debits I’ve made with my bank card. However, I still balance it every month—to the penny!)
10. Making a Halloween costume – Fuggettaboutit! Buy a costume, rent one, or, better yet, don’t even bother wearing one. Hey, it’s all about the candy, isn’t it? Oh, wait, they’ve outlawed Halloween, haven’t they?
11. Keeping a photo album – Today, everything is stored somewhere else, virtually, on a cloud, or in the clouds. Whatever! (What if the power goes out?) Anybody know what slides are? See what I mean?
12. Using a dictionary – Tell the truth, when is the last time you used one? Do you even own one? Okay, go ahead and Google it—if you’re not sure what it is. See? (I rest my case.) Any former encyclopedia salespersons out there? Oh, forget it.
So there you have it, my dirty dozen list of things we used to do that have become lost arts. I’m sure there are others I’ve failed to mention. Got any of your own that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them!