November 28, 2014

Tattered Rolodex recalls memories, serves personal, historical purpose

Rhonda Humble
Publisher
Flipping through the dog-eared cards on my Rolodex one day, I was putting x’s through those who were out of business, out-of-town or dead.
“Why don’t you just throw them out?” a young co-worker asked.
At the time, I just shook my head and didn’t have the words to express the memories attached to those handwritten cards.
For example:
• The name and number of the door-to-door fax salesman.
Fax machines have almost come and gone the way of eight-tracks, but the newspaper’s first fax was a luxury; a big boxy machine with a manual switch you had to flip to receive faxes when it screeched in your ear.
This was in the days before a designated fax line and well before wi-fi had replaced hi-fi.
• The Kansas City company that leased us the paper’s first, used, computers at a time when computers didn’t fit in your lap, let alone in your hand. Buying computers was an investment; not a whim, and leasing companies facilitated their purchase.
The paper’s first (used) network server was nicknamed Bob because the company it was repossessed from had password protected it in such a way that when it loaded to the DOS prompt, it would plaintively call for its programmer.
C: >Bob?
C:>Bob?
C:>Bob?
Ironically, when Bob died of a massive hard drive failure, he was replaced by his next of kin: Bertha, who still serves the paper well, although she’s had a few upgrades, nips, tucks and several complete hysterectomies over the years.
And you guessed it, my old Rolodex contains all the records of her repairs, upgrades, serial numbers and technicians, most of whom are outdated, out-of-business or dead.
So if most of the information in the Rolodex is out of date, why don’t
I get rid of it? Or trade it in on one of those fancy little smart
phones?
Memories I guess.
But I didn’t know how to express that until a friend was talking about the clutter in her basement: receipts, journals and miscellaneous doo-dads or used equipment.
Those things, she said, are the decorations that surround your life; the history of who you are; the things that encompass your core.
And she’s right.
To others, that battered old Rolodex, with handwritten names, notations and numbers may be a tattered relic, but to me, they are a part of who I am.

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