It’s only ten years old

Published Feb. 8, 2013
Last year my nephew Andy and I were studying my “Ohio Atlas & Gazetteer” to find a route from a campground northeast of Columbus to a restaurant a few miles south, and he noticed the book didn’t show the changes in roads. “This is all different,” he said of Route 161, which was two-lane in my book but four-lane expressway on the ground, a victim of Columbus’ ever-growing population and enlarging boundaries.
We looked at the copyright, and the book was 10 years old — I had bought it shortly after starting at The Review — and I told Andy that at my age something I’ve had for 10 years still seems new. For example, I still consider my cat Chesapeake to be a young cat and the newcomer of the family, so I was surprised to find that he was born in 2005 when I was looking up Angus’ birthday recently. (He’ll be 16 soon.)
I’m halfway through my 50s, and here’s how it looks from my perspective. I have a nephew and nieces who are children, but the following are all adults:
I have a coonskin cap that is the same age as nephew Brian. I bought it at the first Great Trail Festival I attended, in 1983, within a week or so of Brian’s birth. I had wanted a coonskin cap all my life and was happy to find it. Brian shares my love of playing guitar and old vinyl records, and my mother attended his Ohio State graduation just a few months before her death.
I have moccasins that are older than my niece Erin. I bought Minnetonka knee-high fringe boots in the summer of 1984 at Mr. Hyde’s Leather, when it was in the Glass Tower across from Belden Village Mall. Minnetonka moccasins are well made and last for years, and the boots have lasted for 29 years because I wear them less often than shorter moccasins. Erin recently married a nice guy named Joe, whom I hope to get to know better.
I have a book of fiddle tunes that is older than Andy. My friend Dale’s parents bought it for me at The Village Bookshop on the north side of Columbus in 1985, and it was one of my early introductions to traditional fiddle music. Andy also graduated last year from Ohio State, and my mother attended that graduation. Andy shares my love of classy caps and hats, and he’s the first enlistee in my program to encourage a return to hats and dressy clothing.
I have flare-leg Levi’s that are older than niece Rachel. I had to quit wearing them when I outgrew them, but I kept them, always intending to lose weight. That hasn’t happened yet, but now those Levi’s are museum pieces. Rachel has a delightful son named Landon and a cool boyfriend named Scott who also shares my love of vinyl.
Nearly my entire record collection is older than niece Allison. I began buying vinyl records in 1969 or so and bought new records until 1989, and I still have most of them. I like the convenience of CDs and digital music, but nothing can beat the charm and history of vinyl and liner notes printed on 12-by-12 paper. At my wedding, Allison was a toddler dressed in a smock my mother made, and she’ll graduate this spring, also from Ohio State. (My father, who held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from OSU, is partly responsible for all these OSU grads, which include younger brother Rob.)
My mandolin is older than niece Michelle. I bought it in April 1991 from builder James Jones at his shop near Bedford, Va. We drove to Virginia for the weekend to get the mandolin, which I had ordered a few months earlier, and buying it, I’m afraid, eclipsed my wife’s birthday. Michelle is studying culinary arts at my alma mater, Kent State, following her lifelong passion for cooking and baking.
I have guitar picks that are older than all of them. I found them on a windowsill while camping in 1974 at a campground near Carrollton, when I was in high school and my nephews and nieces were far in the future. Those picks represent happy times with my family and friends, sitting by the campfire and playing my guitar.
Of course I have many more things that are older than my nieces and nephews, such as the PaperMate pen and pencil set my Grandpa Whitacre gave me for Christmas 1969 or the Sterling slide rule I used in junior high school or my violin, which was made before Grandpa was born and is even older than older brother Stu, but these are just a few examples. And if you’re wondering, last year I bought a new Ohio gazetteer.

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