Have You Found The Secret Of Old Items? #SundayStills

How old is old?

When does a new year become old?

Is it when people stop saying “Happy New Year” to each other?

Is there a date when you can no longer wish somebody a happy new year because the year is considered old? When is that date?

#SundayStills #bloggers #challenge

Those may be silly questions, but they’ve often had me scratching my head for the answers.

This week’s theme for Sunday Stills is the word OLD. What does the word old mean to you? Are the stars, sun and moon old? They may seem old to you, but to others out there they may seem young.

The word ‘old’ is often used to describe many things that, to me, are not old. For example, take the building in the following photo. 

Built in the 1870s, one could argue that the building is old. Yet it doesn’t look old to me. Maybe the fact that the owner does a lot of maintenance on the building makes it look new?

Perhaps it’s the style of the building rather that it’s condition that makes it look old? 

What secrets do old objects hold?

Many. All old objects absorb the secrets of those who own or once owned them. Even the secrets of those who come into contact with old objects are absorbed. However, at a certain age, some of those old objects reveal a secret of their own.   

Between September 1986 and March 1988, I was an occupant of the basement flat in the building featured in the first photo. Imagine my surprise when I saw myself coming up the steps from the basement flat after taking the photo.

Then I remembered that the building had revealed its secret to me while I was living there. It was a secret that opened the door to a gift I have.

Later that same day, I came across this old object. 

Although it was not ringing, something urged me to pick up the receiver. 

“Operator. Which date would you like to call, please?” said a rather posh voice at the other end of the line.

Not only was I shocked to hear her voice, but I was somewhat hesitant what to say. After the earlier encounter with myself coming up the steps from the basement flat, did my gift also allow me to hear things from the past?

“October 1986, please,” my shaky voice replied.

Expecting the line to go dead, I was shocked when the next voice I heard coming from the old phone was a familiar one.

But, just as I did in last week’s Sunday Stills post, I am digressing. Those are stories for another day.

What does the word ‘old’ make you think of?

Here are some old objects I have come up with for this week’s theme.

Do you know where to look to find the secret that all these objects hold?

Next time you consider something or someone to be old, take a closer look at what you can see and come back and tell me what you saw or heard. 

The winners of last week’s ‘count the round objects’ challenge

Thank you to Sam, Jon, Caz, Irene, Ellen, Robbie, Bella and Ritu, who took up my challenge in last week’s Sunday Still post and had a guess at how many round objects were in the photo.

I’ve no idea if any of you got the right answer, but you’re all winners in my books for having a guess. Well done!

Thank you to Terri Webster Schrandt for asking me to host this week’s Sunday Stills challenge. Click here to find out the themes for upcoming Sunday Stills challenges.

Terri is back next week to host Sunday Stills, so this is where I bow out as your host.

Want to participate in Sunday Stills? Here’s what you need to do.

  • Please create a new post for the theme and share your photos, stories, poetry, or thoughts about this week’s theme.
  • Title your post differently from mine but remember to include #SundayStills in the title.
  • Create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. Click here to find out how to create a pingback. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries can be shared all week (not just on a Sunday). Use the hashtag #SundayStills on social media so that other participants can find your post.

I look forward to reading and seeing your posts about this week’s theme.

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Author: Hugh W. Roberts

My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my blogging tips posts. If you have any questions about blogging or anything else, please contact me by clicking on the 'Contact Hugh' button on the menu bar. Click on the 'Meet Hugh' button on the menu bar of my blog to learn more about me and my blog.

95 thoughts

  1. Hi hugh. I’m visiting from #SeniSal
    This is an intriguing story. I think once January is over the words New Year fade.
    I love looking at old things. I wonder where they came from and the people whose lives they were once a part of. Sometimes looking at very old things makes me feel melancholy, and I’m not sure why. I still like it though.

    1. Same here, Gloria. Old objects fascinate me. They have so many stories to tell about previous owners. Given that ‘smart’ objects now watch and can hear us, I wonder if in years to come they’ll tell our stories?

    1. Thanks for joining the Sunday Still challenge. The Pingback did not work because it looks like you linked to the home page of my blog rather than the post itself. However, not to worry. I recommend that you copy and paste the URL address of your post into the comments section here. That way, others will then be able to click the link and view your post.

  2. These are great questions! The building doesn’t look old to me, either. Maybe because there are a lot of buildings like this in Buenos Aires and they become part of our every day lives. But the cash register and other things we don’t see anymore, those feel so antique!

  3. Around my part of Scotland we are still wishing people a Happy New Year the first time we meet them this year and will do so for a few more weeks. On the other hand we never wish anyone a Happy New Year before midnight on Hogmanay. It drives me nuts when people do it a week before – it’s seriously bad luck – they might not still be around on New Year. It’s only okay to do it if you add the words ‘when it comes’.

    1. That’s really interesting, Mary. What about all those Christmas cards that say ‘Happy New Year’ in them? I’m guessing if it’s written down (rather than spoken), then it doesn’t count and is OK? Having thought about it, I don’t say ‘Happy New Year’ to anyone until the new year has actually arrived. Now I’m wondering if the same should apply for Christmas and birthdays? You’ve opened up another good subject to debate.

    2. I never thought of that. As hugh says, it often says Happy New Year on Christmas cards. I myself usually wish people a happy Christmas, and save the new year wish for when it comes.

  4. Loved that phone, Hugh. We had one like that when I was growing up but without the dial. You just picked it up and asked the operator to connect you with whatever person you wanted to speak with, No numbers. Later we had a party line – we shared with another family. Then we got phone numbers and you asked the operator to get that number for you. THEN, the dial phone.

    1. Thank you for sharing those memories with us, Noelle. I certainly remember ‘party’ lines and having to dial the operator for long-distance calls. I also remember when phone numbers were only four digits long. I wonder what the future holds for the telephone?

    1. Thanks for pointing that out to me, Mirian. I only ever watch Peppa Pig when my Great-Niece is with me, so I overlooked how Peppa’s name was spelt.

      Yes, my question has thrown open a great debate between you all. I always like it when that happens.

      Like you, I also enjoy meeting and talking to old people. I love listening to their stories and hearing about their memories.

      Thank you for participating in this week’s Sunday Stills.

  5. I enjoyed your collection of ‘old’ things, and your thought provoking questions in this post. I’m also glad Donna found out when we should stop saying Happy New Year, I didn’t know the correct protocol! I have posted my wedding anniversary post because I remember when my grandparents had their 40th anniversary, I thought they were so old and now it’s my turn!! Thanks for hosting this week and I’m glad to be a part of Sunday stills with you. https://debs-world.com/2020/01/12/forty-years-of-married-life-makes-us-sound-old/

    1. I must admit that I’d never heard of the protocol that Donna shared with us, Debbie. I still hear people saying ‘Happy New Year’ to each other. Even on the television and radio, it’s still being said. I wonder when it will stop?

      Thank you so much for participating in Sunday Stills this week. And Happy Ruby wedding anniversary.

      I wish you a safe flight home today.

  6. I loved Maggie’s answer above: Old is experience, wisdom and charm. I would add grace to that. Most senior people I know have a grace to their movements, as though slowing down allows you the space to enjoy each movement more.
    The pictures above brought back some fond memories. As a child my aunt and uncle had a party line on a rotary phone- two rings for the neighbor, three rings for them. I thought it was so cool (though the neighbors could hear your conversation if they chose!). The cash register is close to the first one I ever used in a Mom & Pops café that many years later became mine- though, sadly, the register was gone.

    1. I remember ‘party’ lines as well, Jacquie. We had one with a neighbour up the road. However, you could generally tell if either party had picked up the receiver during the call. If there was not a ‘click’ shortly after, you knew they’d picked up the receiver, then you knew they were still online. However, back then, and well before the days of phone hacking, everyone was polite enough to put the receiver down if the line was in use. I now think back and think of all the storylines I could have picked up had I not replaced the receiver.

      I remember my mother using a cash register like the one in the photo. She worked on the checkout in a supermarket and had to punch in every ticket price. Heavens forbid if one of the items had no price sticker on it.

      Thanks for joining in with Sunday Stills this week. I’ve seen your pingback and will be over to read your post later.

  7. I actually tried to count how many round objects there were [giggle]. Some lovely pictures, Hugh. Age is in the mind to a certain extent and one needs to try to do things and not embrace old age as an excuse for not doing things.

  8. Hi, Hugh – I am now reemerging from my blogging break. I’ve missed your thought-provoking writing. There are so many great gems in this post!
    As to your opening question, I found myself researching it online. According to Lisa Forde, party and wedding etiquette expert, one week after the new year started is acceptable, but not much later. Otherwise, she states that an expired greeting can have negative consequences. Too bad I wasn’t able to read your post yesterday. I repeatedly wished friends and followers a ‘Happy New Year’ all day long! (blush here) 😀

    1. Thanks, Donna, and welcome back to the blogging world. I think most of us do miss the world of blogging when we take a break. For many, it’s a place that is hard to stay away from.

      Lisa’s thoughts sound very much like the superstition about taking down Christmas decorations before the 7th of January. It’s said that if they are left up after the night of the 6th (for some faiths, it’s the 5th), then a whole year of bad luck will follow. Whether that is true or not, who knows? As somebody who has always taken Christmas decorations down by the 6th, I’ve never been the position of knowing if the superstition is right.

      I’ve still been wishing people online a happy new year. I wonder if writing it rather than saying it is any different?

      1. Good point about written messages having different timeframes. Either way, I disagree with Lisa. I have been wishing people ‘Happy New Year’ all week long (including today) as long as I haven’t seen them since before Jan 1!

  9. Love your hint of a story of “old” and time, Hugh, and the many questions you pose. Beautiful images of architecture! I agree with Dawn’s comment about our US and its newness at least in architecture. I can’t wait to get to Europe some day to check out what stood the test of time. Once again I really appreciate you hosting SS this week. I’m back to blogging tomorrow with a post and plan a few over the next two weeks before school starts. A nice break but I’m happy to be back to it. Even got some writing done. Have a great week!

    1. In Europe, we’re so lucky to have so many old buildings and people history, Terri. However, although I lived and worked in London for 27 years, I never made the most of checking out all the history around me. I think I only managed to scrape the surface. Sometimes, life gets in the way.

      I’ve enjoyed hosting ‘Sunday Stills’ again. Thank you for asking me. I’ve had a great time thinking about what to include in my posts and, as ever, my mind went into overdrive.

      Welcome back to the blogosphere. I think most of us do miss it when we take a break. I’m looking forward to hearing about your recent vacation.

        1. Yes, I certainly say ‘old version’ when referring to a piece of software that has been updated. These days that can happen within a few days of it being released. I wonder why we say ‘old’ rather than ‘previous’?

  10. I am such a nostalgic soul and I love this post. I have been known to ‘rescue’ items from antique stores. If I see a well-loved China cup that shows the mark of hands that held it day after day, I can feel the history there. And as a genealogist, if I find old photos with names written on the back, they come home with me while I try and search for their current day relatives. Old is experience and wisdom and charm. It is what lives from all that has otherwise passed.

    1. What a lovely thing to do in saving items from antique stores, Maggie. I’m the same with old photos. I’m currently slowly going through a suitcase of old photos with my last surviving aunt. She doesn’t know all of the people on some of the photos, but it’s great hearing the stories she tells me of those that she does recognise.

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Just from the comments already left, it’s an interesting prompt word, so I’m expecting to see a lot of variation from those who participate.

    1. I loved the video too, Shelley. I had no idea that it was men and boys who used to operate switchboards. And I don’t remember ever calling the operator and hearing a man’s voice (not that I call the operator anymore).

      I had a great time hosting Sunday Stills for the last two weeks. It’s been great fun.

  11. Nice way to create so many winners, Hugh 😀
    When I start to look at something as being old, I ask myself, if it is because, I’m growing old, that I think so.
    Of course, if I ask my kids, they will tell other things as being old, as they see the world in another way, that I do.

    1. It was my intention to make everyone who had a guess a winner, Irene. I’d never have had the patience to count all the round objects, so you’re all winners. I thought it a great way to also link back to some blogs.

      I agree about younger people seeing the world differently to older people. I only have to look back at what I considered was old 30 years ago to what I now think is old. You’re right. As we age, our way of determining what is old changes.

  12. I appreciate old things too Hugh. If the walls could talk, or in the case of your photos that old telephone. LOL! I like the photos.

    When I look at old buildings, knick knacks, cars or whatever it has occurred to me many times that at one time the people using them, being around them were in a different time, dressing different and all the things that went with the era. I appreciate that.

    I used to have my grandmothers, and great grandmothers silver (it was stolen since). I remember saying to my father and husband as I looked at an “old” silver ladle “Just think when dad was a toddler in a high chair my great grandparents, grandparents and all those greats, some I never knew were sitting around the table together. Something about that was so interesting, and heartwarming to me.

    1. Yes, just imagine all the conversations that old phone will have been part of, Lea. It’s like homes where we’re not the first occupants. If only walls could talk. Maybe they can?

      I was going to include an old family photo in this post, but I already had enough examples of this week’s theme. Like you said, though, there is something heartwarming about looking at old family photos or objects and wonder what it would have been like on the day the photo was taken or when the object came into possession. I’m sorry to hear about your grandmothers, and great grandmothers silver being stolen. That must have been a heartbreaking experience.

      1. Oh, it would have been nice if you had included that photo Hugh.

        I once lived in a 200 year old Victorian house that had been renovated into apartments. The twirling staircase, the attention to detail in the workmanship was beautiful. They just don’t make them like that anymore.

        Yes, it was tough when that stuff was stolen. I had to remind myself many times that it’s just stuff.

        1. I agree. I think a lot of trades’ people took far more time in their work back then, Lea. Now, it seems everything is rushed so that more profits can be made.

          I will include the old photo in another upcoming post.

  13. As an American, I think we are especially sheltered from old. Our history, after all only goes back some 200 years. It is a great question and one that will have me stretching my brain as I go out and explore the world today.

    1. But what about all that history before your part of the world was discovered? I’m sure if we look hard enough, we’ll find it. I’m glad I have challenged people this week. I think many of us have different answers as to how old is old.

    1. I can remember when I thought somebody in their 40s was old. However, as we grow older, I think our idea of what old is moves. Now, I look at somebody in their 80s as still young, especially if they’re still able to enjoy what life offers them.

  14. I think age is one of the most subjective things to define. What is old indeed. Always a question of the perspective. Look at us. I am turning 50 this year and still feel like just beginning to discover this world… but then again, ask my children 😂

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