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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Attic archives...

The holidays are behind us, thank goodness. Now we can look forward to the excitement of the New Year...if, that is, you're one who finds filing the past year's tax returns exciting. Here on site at The Ripple we have the halls undecked, the trappings packed away in bulging totes, and I've been creaking my way up the ladder to the attic one tote at a time.

The last of Christmas to be packed away is the exterior illumination, the strands of lights that while they herald holiday cheer, also illuminate gutters sorely in need of power washing.The three strings are nearly as old as the house. A few sockets are deadouts but those are hardly noticeable during the day. I can hang the seventy-five feet of lights in half an hour, remove them in fifteen minutes thanks to the hooks I strategically placed in the fascia boards when the gutters were new...and clean.

I coil the strands one at a time in a well-worn Sunbeam mixer box, the contents of which are now a ghost of Christmas past. Gently, I nest them between layers of newspaper yellowed with time, sepia toned--old news for sure. The years pile up one on another, and each season as I layer the strands one at a time, I pack the news of yesteryear around them.

One by one I layer the sheaves dated 1983 to 1991. Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator, was wrapping up his administration then, about to turn over the reins of the U.S. government to George H. W. Bush (The Vacation President). The pages crossed the presses two and a half decades ago, ten years before the horrific event which bruised and scarred our nation. Two of the newspapers no longer exist in hard copy: The Seattle P-I and Times thump no more on your doorstep or daily fill your paper box but have hopped on the internet bandwagon.Two pages of  Monroe School District's newsletter The Pipeline (Vol. 8, #2, Dec. 1983), separate one of the strands. The Pipeline, too, I believe, is now defunct.
What I have in the tattered box is a time capsule of sorts. Ads show the inexorable march of inflation. Haggens (in Monroe: here today, gone tomorrow), for instance, had bacon on sale for ninety-nine cents a pound. At today's prices, a buck might buy you two thin slices. Priced appliances lately? In 1991 at  Everett's Judd and Black, you could buy a Whirlpool kitchen range for less than $500.

And back then imagine slipping a mobile phone in your back pocket. You might as well have sat on a brick.
Consider the financial markets in the days when the cardboard sides of that Sunbeam box had integrity. From the finance pages of The P-I, vintage 1991: DJIA 2934; S&P 500, 456; NASDAQ, 536. Spot gold a steal at $358 an oz. Oil, $18 a barrel.

And "current" events? The presidential election of 1992, for one (Trump? Who's Trump?). Andrew Cuomo trims his aspirations political to the mayoral environs of NYC; no master and commander of the Free World for Andy. On the home front some things never change. The Seattle School Board, always embroiled in one controversy or another, acting in the best interests of biology and adolescent hormones, decided to distribute "prophylatics"to its students.

And locally, the Monroe S.D. was hoping to refresh its coffers by mounting yet another school levy: public schools, underfunded then; underfunded now; the 3 R's don't come cheap. (At the launch of fiscal 2016, our State is sitting on a 1.3 billion dollar "rainy day" fund: the State gets richer; the schools--more children.)

One of the wrinkled pages of The Post-Intelligencer I smoothed and read proved to be a coincidence. Beneath a half page color photo was an article about Seattle fast food entrepreneur Dick Spady, founder of the iconic "Dick's Drive-in." Dick's had celebrated its fortieth anniversary. Just this past week the drive-in's founder and namesake passed away at the age of ninety-two.

Ninety-year olds are often asked to share the secrets of their longevity. When I look at the cheerful Dick Spady, calorie-packed 'shake in one hand while holding 780 calories of tasty 'burger in the other, I'm fairly certain I've discovered one of his secrets for a long and happy life. On that ending note The Ripple wishes one and all a healthy, happy New Year.
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