As time marches on, one of the things we say is “they don’t make’em like they used to.” This refers to pretty much everything, including things they didn’t make at all because they hadn’t been invented. Cell phones, for example, lasted forever because they didn’t exist and thus were immune to wear and tear. Houses were built to last — depending on the house. Good houses were made to last. There were also tenements and they didn’t last, but no one has tender memories of the tenements in which they grew up.
One of the many things that lasted forever was furniture. My aunts and uncles — even my mother — had furniture that lasted from when I was very little until they died or moved into nursing homes. Friday, we are getting a new loveseat. The one on which Garry and I sit all the time is 14-years old, though it really seems like we bought it just the other day. We aren’t replacing the sofa. No one sits on it except the dogs and they can sit on the scruffy one.
Pondering the furniture my aunts and uncles had, no one sat on it either. It was placed in the living room, but no one was ever in the living rooms. If you were of superior stock, you called it the parlor — but nobody sat in there either. The family was always clustered in the dining room or kitchen. No one had a television till pretty late in life and then, the uncles sat around smoking cigars which meant no aunts ever sat around with them. Phew.
The smoke didn’t bother the furniture because (are you ready?) it was covered in thick clear plastic. Should you even want to sit on it, in summer you stuck to it and in winter, it was like sitting on an ice bank. The plastic got hard, stiff, and very cold … and we all slid right off it. So we, the youngsters, never sat on it and the grownups didn’t sit in it AND it was covered in plastic. Beneath the plastic, the furniture was wrapped in slipcovers, made to order when the furniture was brand new and under that was the original upholstery — which no one ever saw.
Of course it lasted forever. Our sofa, which does not have plastic covers, does have soft cloth covers to keep the worst of the dog hair and drool and kibble off it and still, with no children or grownups on it, it will last forever or close to it. Personally, we use the loveseat. That’s why, in its fifteenth year, we are replacing it.
There’s a moral to this story which is stuff you never use might last forever. It wasn’t that it was such great quality or they don’t build it like they used to. It was that once delivered, we treated it as if it were in a museum. It’s similar to those fancy wine glasses and silver settings for dining that in the past, we used once a year (maybe) and now don’t use at all. It will last forever. The hard part will be figuring out how to get rid of it!
They just don’t make stuff like that anymore. And aren’t we glad!