Writer’s Workshop: Vintage Stuff

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis probably remember this post from this year’s A to Z Challenge, where I talked primarily about the difference between “vintage” and “retro.” The two terms are used interchangeably, but there is a difference: “vintage” refers to something that comes from the past, whereas “retro” is something that’s made new to look like it came from that period. An example is tie-dyed t-shirts, which make a comeback every so often: their heyday was the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. There’s a good chance that there aren’t any that have lasted 50 years. In fact, they were probably used to wash the car or dust the furniture before they were thrown away at last sometime before 1980. If there are any genuine t-shirts from the ’60’s, they’d be worth a fortune at vintage clothing stores, so if you find one, promise me you’ll split the proceeds with me. Anyway, tie-dye t-shirts you find today were probably made not that long ago, so they’re rightfully called “retro.”

Clothes aren’t the only thing that can be vintage or retro. I had (and unfortunately got rid of) a copy of Beatles ’65 from 1965. (I got it as a gift from my godmother for my Confirmation, which was in, you guessed it, 1965.) At the time I got rid of it, I hadn’t had a turntable in years and had all the music on my hard drive, to which I had ripped it from CD. Had I kept it, it might have been worth a few bucks at a vintage record store. Not that much, though: a minute ago I checked eBay, and found one that was still shrink-wrapped and ostensibly in perfect condition for $33. Mine was in considerably-less-than-perfect condition, meaning I’d likely have to pay someone to take it off my hands. I’m sure that Capitol Records will, at some point, reissue their catalog of Beatles albums on vinyl, and they would be “retro.”

Then, of course, there’s vintage TV. Mary and I watch a lot of vintage TV, including The Andy Griffith Show and Hogan’s Heroes on weeknights and Columbo movies on the weekends. We’ve seen these shows many times over, but they never get old. With Andy, we’ve only seen the episodes from the first five seasons, the ones that were filmed in black & white. The last three seasons of the show were filmed in color, but people don’t like them, primarily because Don Knotts, who played Deputy Barney Fife, had left the show to focus on movies. It’d be interesting to colorize the five black & white seasons and see what the reaction would be, whether people would see color and immediately assume they were no good.

CBS seems to have gotten into the habit of “updating” some of their old series and putting them back on the air. For example, they brought Magnum, PI back with a Hispanic Magnum and a female Higgins, and managed to keep much of the same feel of the original show. The same can’t be said for their reboot of Hawaii Five-O, where the characters were light years apart from the originals (more action figures than law enforcement professionals) and the new show being much more violent than the original. The same is true of MacGyver, which is nothing at all like its predecessor. And don’t get me started on their attempt at The Odd Couple

25 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Vintage Stuff

  1. Well this was helpful to read! I call things “retro” a lot in my listings on ebay if they came from the 60s/70s…I didn’t realize retro was new and made to look old! Thanks for the lesson!

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  2. I had a fairly significant vinyl collection which was gathering dust. Even with a turntable in the rack of our sound system, I never gave any of the albums a spin. Too much trouble with satellite radio providing every genre of music at the flip of the remote.

    And then, vinyl suddenly struck a new interest with our grandson when he requested a turntable for Christmas. I ordered special wooden storage racks, packed up everything from the Beatles, Herb Alpert, Kiss, Johnny Rivers, Pablo Cruise, Peter Lemongello (remember him?) and more….it was the best gift ever!

    Hold onto vintage for as long as you can. Everything old does become new again!

    Stay safe!

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  3. I remember perusing those old – now vintage – clothing catalogs. Seemed the same models were in all of them.
    Speaking of vintage TV shows, I heard this morning that the property where “Bonanza” was filmed, near lake Tahoe, just sold for $38M.

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    1. And they modeled everything from bras to wedding dresses.

      Have they announced any plans for the old Ponderosa? I can see them building resort hotels, or maybe subdividing the land and building luxury homes on it.

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  4. I didn’t know the distinction between vintage and retro. Thanks for the explanation. Oddly enough I’d say that information could be useful when contemplating many situations in life.

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  5. Hi, John!

    I enjoyed this post clarifying the meaning of the terms vintage and retro. I wish I still the record collection I assembled in the 1960s and 70s. I owned more than a thousand albums and around 2,500 45s. To scrape together some quick cash, I foolishly sold them to the owner of a used record store who didn’t even bother to look at the titles. He took a ruler, measured the thickness (depth) of the stacks on the counter, and paid me pennies per inch!!! What was I thinking? Some of those vinyl treasures would be worth a lot of $$$ by now.

    I recently watched The Andy Griffith Show all the way through including the color seasons. You’re right. It wasn’t the same w/o Don Knotts. I prefer the earliest seasons with Elinor Donahue as “Ellie Walker.”

    Have a great weekend, good buddy John, and thanks for visiting Shady’s Place!

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    1. Elinor Donahue was (and still is) quite attractive, but there wasn’t that “spark” between her and Andy, partly because she was half his age (in real life, anyway). At the same time, I liked her better than Aneta Corsaut. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I didn’t know that about vintage & retro. Good to know. I did look at photos of Purdue residences, but didn’t recognize anything, which might be the fault of the photo mostly just showing the front entrances of their buildings. It’s been 47 years.

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    1. Right. A lot can change in that amount of time. I took myself around the Northwestern campus, whre I had gone from ’74 to ’76, and so much had changed. Then again, so much was still the same: Lunt Hall, the oldest building on campus that housed the Math department, is still standing…

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  7. Back in 1990 I sold all of my Beatles vinyl along with some other records. I think I got a pretty fair deal on them as I sold them individually to “collectors” I guess I’d call them. Certainly got more than if they’d been included in a lot of vinyl like I sold about 10 years ago. Now I kind of wish I still had them.

    Most of the movies we watch these days might be considered vintage. A lot of new stuff isn’t worth seeing as far as I’m concerned.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. We haven’t been to the movies in at least ten years. They’re too expensive and my physical issues make it difficult to get out of the seats. At some point our old TV will die and we’ll replace it with a smart TV that has a Roku box with it, and catch up on all the movies we’ve missed. Maybe.

      When I started ripping my CD’s to my hard drive I realized that I could have the music without the physical medium. Had I been a little more forward thinking, I would have found a way to rip the albums and cassettes as well. C’est la vie…

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  8. As with most things in life, there is a definite difference between vintage and retro. I agree with Maggie, one has to have a keen eye to see the difference between vintage and reproductions.

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    1. I don’t trust myself to know whether I’m looking at the actual thing or a reproduction, so I generally avoid buying anything unless it’s something that I really want. Have you ever visited the Scott Antique Market? That can be an interesting experience.

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  9. You know we are big Andy Griffith fans, but we only like the B&W seasons. Antique or vintage shopping requires a keen eye these days. So many reproductions!

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