Is it new-fashioned or old-fangled


Boomer Blog - Shirley Scott



Early in our lives, the boundaries of old-fashioned and new-fangled seemed clearly defined. In adolescence we rolled our eyes whenever our parents mentioned clothing, chores, or behavior, emphasizing our exasperation with snippy comments about “everybody else.” Meanwhile, said parents sniffed and grunted in reaction to our wishes, which they more often than not dismissed out of hand.

Undaunted, we strode confidently into adulthood, ready to share our suggestions for the modernization of society. Such was the case at GHS in 1970, when at least 10 new teachers joined a seasoned staff; poor Isabell Lash, as Language Arts Department Chair, was faced with an entire slate of rookie English teachers!

As newbies unencumbered by offspring, we gathered after school in the lounge to complain about the status quo and make bold proposals for immediate change – it was the 70s, after all. Predictably, the oldsters in our midst furrowed their brows at our pie-in-the-sky ideas, which we naturally considered cutting edge.

Some of our afternoon lounge dreams did indeed come to fruition, including EFFE Day (Experiment in Free Form Education) – could there have anything more New Age? Juniors and seniors chose from a whole host of nine-week courses to fulfill their English requirements. Fall drama productions of serious theater, including The Crucible and The Miracle Worker, as well as spring presentations of Broadway musicals delighted audiences. Falcon bandsmen danced, and American/German students crisscrossed the Atlantic in the name of international exchange.

And eventually came the gloriously-fateful day a brave female teacher wore a pants suit to school. One singular moment immediately cancelled an eons-long, unwritten requirement that ladies wear only skirts and dresses. We never looked back!

As the old saying goes, change is the one constant – a law of life we began to experience all too soon. Even as we shook our heads in frustration, waves of rookies challenged some of what we ourselves had initiated. The youngsters questioned our old-fashioned ways while we categorized their brainstorms as – well, new-fangled. In fact, I submitted my letter of retirement the morning after an extended discussion of how and where to display daily learning outcomes. My solution: just teach – the outcomes would take care of themselves.

Unfortunately, retirement has also increasingly become a mishmash of old and new; some days I feel helplessly caught somewhere between the old-fangled and the new-fashioned. An article I perused a while back was not particularly helpful: “Boomer Skills Becoming Obsolete” pretty much a slap in the face of those of us just trying to keep up with the ever-changing world of apps, generational phones and streaming.

One “obsolete skill” listed was map reading, reinforced by a recent personal experience. A visiting nurse who has occasionally been to my house on the south side of Urbana, called to apologize that she would be late arriving from the Mechanicsburg area: her GPS had taken her on a bit of a goose-chase. Silently questioning her choice not to simply follow Route 36 to the Square in Urbana for a left turn, I wondered how modern drivers proceed if indeed their technology shuts down? GPS for hands-free convenience with a map in the glove compartment as a backup might be prudent – in an old/new sort of way.

I noticed in the UDC last week a schedule of dates and locations for Girl Scout cookie sales. The original flavors of chocolate and vanilla sandwich cookies, shortbreads, and mint wafers have been successfully supplemented over the years with Tagalongs, Samoas, and Do-Si-Dos as well as this year’s new Adventurefuls – a tasty-sounding combination of caramel crème and brownie flavors. But with a respectful nod to the old of the fashioned and the new of the fangled, I will remain true to the good, old Thin Mints – which I can, by the way, devour by the boxful, given the chance!

I am, however, not completely old-fashioned in every aspect of life, not totally resistant to change of any kind. There are items, once perhaps considered new-fangled, I am glad were invented – laundry pods, as one example of several. All the inconveniences once associated with soap powders and liquids have been ingeniously solved by those tiny packets we simply toss into our machines.

Speaking of happy combinations of old and new, as reported in the UDC last week, an ALDI store may soon pop up in Urbana in place of one of the city’s older structures. ALDI is a chain of German discount grocery stores established in 1946, the AL standing for the ALbrecht brothers who founded the stores and DI representing DIskont for their discount aspect. I once went shopping with Ingrid at the ALDI in Springe, where items were displayed in their original shipping cartons.

I read lots of happy Facebook comments at the prospect of this new retail development for our local area.

The best fusion of the week, however, had absolutely nothing to do with technology, shopping, or the generation gap. The hint of spring in the air – however fleeting – elated me. The arrival of spring may be old-fashioned in the sense that centuries of mere mortals have always been able to rely on its reappearance. And we celebrate the new with every shoot protruding from the ground, every bud promising eventual blossoms, every songbird nesting for the arrival of future songbirds. Spring – that gentle blend of the old-fashioned and the new-fangled that will forever and always gladden my heart!

Boomer Blog

Shirley Scott

Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.

Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.