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Everything That's Old is New Again - Maybe

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Or not. I haven't decided yet.Dorothy-Lime-Apron_8.jpg

Yesterday a catalog of children's clothing arrived in my mail. It was full of back-to-school buys and that was all expected, but what I was surprised by was how old-fashioned the clothes were. Jumpers. Cadigan sweaters. Knee socks. Mary Janes. Rugby shirts. Pleated skirts. In short, the whole thing looked like a maroon and navy Dick and Jane book.

Interesting, I said to myself. For some time, I've noticed society at large going kind of retro. In 2007-2008 it was like living through the 1970s again. I half expected macrame to make a comeback. Now, in 2009 it's feeling even older. I told you I've taken up sewing in a big way, and a trip to WalMart the other deal revealed that I'm not the only one. What are popular projects? Aprons, of all things, done up in faux 1940s print cottons with ruffles and tight waists. Just the right thing to can your own peaches in or make your own apple pie.

Let's cut to the chase: my thought is that we're trying to recapture some kind of sense of American identity that's associated with thrift, endurance, and focus. I don't believe that we're recreating the 1930s and 1940s in all their details, however - we're proud of the fact that we have an African American president, for example, something that would have been unimaginable then. And of course we're buying smart phones by the zillions and spending way too much time on Facebook. No, we're retooling old concepts in the form of aesthetics, I think.

Does this mean that history and heritage organizations have a new lease on life? Maybe, if they managed to tap into this zeitgeist I'm talking about, and somehow reinvent themselves as "retro" rather than simply old-fashioned. I think they ought to figure out how to attract the kids dressed in those jumpers and rugby shirts, and with them their parents. That's a tricky proposition, of course, and the danger is that this is a short-lived fad. However, I'm intrigued enough that I'm going to keep tabs on this phenomenon and will report back periodically.

If you have you're own thoughts, please let me know!

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