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Coming Soon: Nostalgia

25 Mar, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

After a weekend of drenching rain two weeks ago that left the southern third of California housebound, I was itching to get back out in the sun last weekend.

Sure, the rest of the country sees the Rose Parade on TV on New Year's Day and thinks we are all a bunch of wimps. But nobody really beams back the satellite shots of the flash-flooding later in the year, when the area gets its entire annual rainfall total in one weekend. Such was our Ides of March this year.

Anyway around here, it wasn't just the war broadcasts keeping folks out of stores last weekend. Some of us fled, blinking, into the sunlight to ride bikes, walk pets or pursue other activities. Flea markets and garage sales are a pastime for me, so my excursion was cruising yard sales.

It has been a few months since we had really good yard sale weather so there were several neighborhood or tract joint efforts, 20 or more families in an area dragging their castoffs to the curb.

Being voluntarily childless, I almost always pass on sales where you can tell from your car that most of the stuff is outgrown baby clothes and toys. But with a neighborhood sale you get out of your car and walk, so I got a closer look at what was getting sold.

It was immediately apparent that in the few months since the last round of neighborhood sales, VHS has been migrating from the family room to the garage and, finally, to the curb. Virtually every sale, regardless of neighborhood economy or breadth of merchandise, had at least a few tapes out for sale, cheap. At the more affluent homes there were entire bins of tapes, often factory issues offered at $1 or even 50 cents each.

We all know that the number of DVD players in American homes nearly doubled from January 2002 to January 2003. The sheer volume of used cassettes for sale is only further proof that VHS is on the fast track to 8-track tape status: a clumsy curiosity that nobody misses and that will soon be recalled with the same nostalgia as tube TVs, manual typewriters and treadle sewing machines.

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