In an email recently, someone asked if I was still doing minutes.

No, I told her, that job was replaced by technology. “Doing minutes” meant attending meetings, recording (writing) what was said by using shorthand (another obsolete tool) and typing up the results into “minutes.” I guess no one types any longer, and fewer know shorthand, but they can digitize, text and learn word processing – all modern terms for what used to be called typing. It’s a good thing they’re still learning to communicate in some manner, for soon, cursive (longhand to us) writing will not be taught. Maybe vocalization will be next.

Someone out there in Seniorland remembers shorthand, typing and probably NCR paper, as well. I had to explain what NCR meant the other day, as I was exclaiming over the fact that some form I completed for an agency used that kind of paper – and I thought no one used it now. NCR was a company called National Cash Register and one of its divisions developed carbonless paper and named it No Carbon Required. It was a great invention in its day.

Carbon paper is also in the history archives now. Except for tiny, old-fashioned receipt pads, I can’t recall the last time I saw a whole sheet of carbon paper. No doubt somewhere in the sewing world, carbon paper is still used to transfer patterns.

Thankfully, a lot of the old office products are now history. Years ago, some government agency seeking poisons and bad stuff in the workplace sent a letter to the company I worked for warning about a couple of things that were on their list to check out: type cleaner and Wite-Out. I had both in my desk drawer and probably they had been opened, as well. Type cleaner was a liquid that came in a small bottle and had an applicator made of felt. It was used to clean the metal type-arms on a typewriter (I think a few of those are still being made). This fluid had a powerful odor, as I recall, and I dutifully listed it on the government forms – full disclosure. Wite-Out is still being, made although in a much different form. Originally it was a white opaque liquid used to, well, white out errors in typing.

We seniors can recall quite a few things that are now valuable historic artifacts. Just think about clothing – we invented and retired bell-bottoms, stockings with seams, stockings that used garters, fish net stockings, go-go boots, love beads and car coats.

When I write about history, it’s usually about something from really long ago. I guess it may be time to reflect on and write about the history my own generation has made.

Kay Soldier welcomes reader ideas for column topics of interest to seniors. She can be reached by email at [email protected], or write to 114 Tandberg Trail, Windham, ME 04062.


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