the power of plastic


‘wildlife treasury cards’ came up in conversation today.

http://www.atlaspicturecards.com/Wildlife_Treasury_Cards.html

remember those? chances are, most 25-35 year olds (or so) recall the green plastic box and the animal photo-and-info cards that came in the mail – a bundle wrapped in plastic that i always wished was larger – every month or so. they were fascinating to me, the geek child. i read the cards and studied the pictures, absorbing the information like an antsy child in need of distraction. ohwait. . .

so, i reached out to a few friends, to question them about their recollection of these cards. brian had a second-hand set, and clearly remembers keeping gumby in the box, for reasons unknown. adam said he used to keep his stash of random and stale cigarettes in that box when he was 13 (he’s smoke them out the window in the attic when he thought nobody would notice). my sister, kate, and james all recalled them. we all had clear memories of the cards, the box, the packaging. i realized i had struck on something important.

the things that are said to define generations are major, traumatic, important. global. the sort of things that you don’t really understand until you grow up and look back — wars, presidents, headline news — it’s all above a head that’s only three feet off the ground. being aware of a world outside of our immediate lives doesn’t come early or easily. but the the things that imprint themselves in our minds are not what the magazines and textbooks remember.

what defines us, what unites us and keeps us laughing, even over beers in our late 20’s, are the smallest things. the cereal commercials, the trendy clothes, the stuffed animals. the magazine subscriptions and the lunchtime snacks. we are what we lived, our memories lie locked within juice boxes and toy chests. we recall the warmth of innocence in bright plastic colors, in blocks that always fit together and dolls with perfect figures. a simple shared happy memory of a toy or a fast food commercial speaks volumes and oozes with comfort. we are the collected details of the lives we’ve lived, a sum of the bits and the way we each see the world.

i guess it’s all about perspective. at what point did politics become important to you? when did you notice and care about career success, environmental issues, war? is it any wonder that the stuff that really matters gets discussed at bars at two a.m.?

‘hey, man, remember the snorks?’

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Frobi Wan Kenobiwan
    Mar 15, 2008 @ 11:46:32

    I vaguely remember those cards, but, I do remember Snorks like I remember Plastic Man!

    Reply

  2. theberrygirl
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 12:10:11

    thanks so much for the comments and insightful feedback! it means a lot to know that my first blogging efforts are being read, understood, and appreciated. stay tuned for more!

    Reply

  3. James
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 11:57:48

    Has any generation held onto their childhood as tightly as we have held onto ours? While we have to sometimes see our memories of yesteryear basterized by blockbuster movies and short lived television remakes we can still feel content in the fact that we lived through it. And in those special moments chatting with friends when the nostalgia wells up in our hearts and our eyes, we can celebrate the fact that those memories of plastic and celluloid will never die, because those were the beginning of our dreams.

    Reply

  4. Jen Z
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 06:48:40

    “this monkey holds his long nose up when he eats… and a duck billed platypus has feet like a duck, but is FURRY! they’re all in my wildlife treasury!!!”… i don’t think constantine had the $12 bucks a month or whatever to shell out for those cards.

    you are on… like the encyclopedia britannica kid!

    Reply

  5. yonderboy
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 02:26:08

    screw waiting until 2 am. these are the things that are important. not the things that define the world and society, but the things that define the people who live in it. it’s high time people realised that it is the individuals that matter the most.

    awesome first entry! hope to hear much, much more from you..

    Reply

  6. Jon
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 02:25:20

    I remember the commercials for them, after much memory-searching. Can’t say I really ever wanted them though… :-p

    Reply

  7. Jody Cones
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 02:21:36

    Hmmm interesting point you make there…

    Can’t say I remember them though… Being an Aussie prolly does not help… Errr… Yea…

    Reply

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