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Don’t pine too hard for the good old days

December 09, 2011 at 07:09 AM

The State Journal-Register

Do you remember the Brylcreem jingle? Ipana toothpaste? Who really shot Liberty Valance or life without WD-40? Or can you recall when single-family homes had one telephone, and one bathroom?

I recently received an email list of 30 such things that might propel my team to victory at a retro trivia night. All of them were back in the recesses of my memory bank.

With Fearless Fosdick, and Smilin’ Jack looking over my shoulder, I began thinking about the things in my outdoor experience that have gone the way of antenna rotors and television sets without remote controls.

The re-curve bow was pretty high tech when Illinois archery deer hunting was new. Even though the basic design had been around for several centuries, they were new again to the first archery deer hunters. Even the best and strongest hunters couldn’t hold steady very long at full draw. You can probably pick one up now at a garage sale. It might be on the same table as the Betamax video player and the 14-inch snow tires.

When we started shotgun deer hunting, hunters could wear red, orange or yellow. The coat, hat or vest didn’t have to be the same color, as long as it was one of the acceptable three.

Hunters had to improvise. Forget about yellow. There probably weren’t half a dozen off-the-rack red or orange coats in all of Hancock County. Some guys dyed old coats hoping to achieve a bright enough shade of red. Lloyd and I stumbled upon the idea of wearing the orange safety vests the highway crews wore. Those vests and our red hats made us look like Ronald McDonald wannabes, but they fit the bill.

A versatile .22 semi-automatic rifle would shoot shorts, longs or long rifle cartridges. I don’t remember the last time I saw a box of .22 longs. Those .22 shorts are still out there, but now they cost more than their long rifle counterparts.

At one time, the only camo clothing choice was available at the Army surplus store, in sizes other than the ones that fit you. That was also the only place to find wool socks. Makes my feet itch thinking about those.

Before I get too caught up in the trip down memory lane, let’s be clear. I don’t miss slathering mink oil on boots, hoping for enough waterproofing to get through the day, or rubber rain suits that kept the rain out and gallons of perspiration in, or those fuzzy yellow gloves that attracted cockle burrs. Gorex, Thinsulate, plastic shotgun shells, range finders and electronic dog collars are among the scores of advancements that make it all better.

Still, what we wear, or the equipment we use, it never trumps the experience itself. Ten years from now, you’re not going to remember what you were wearing when your fireplace buck came within range, or when you landed that 10-pound bass.
But you’re never going to forget how those days made you feel.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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