Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We've Lost Something

 It's tempting to say that what we lost is a sense of style, but I think it's a little more than that. 
Style has certainly been sacrificed, but something else has been lost, too.
Look at this old barbershop. Someone was once very proud of this place, you can tell just by looking at it. And the men who worked there look like they were proud to be there. I'll bet everyone who walked in there was called "sir".
And banks. Walking into a bank used to be an awe inspiring business.  
Even in a relatively small bank like the one below.
But not now. 
There's no awe here. Just a lot of laminate.
I know there are reasons banks aren't built like that anymore. Marble is expensive. Ceilings that tall make a room hard to heat. But dang! Isn't there a middle ground? Something between brass and marble grandeur and laminate sadness?

This next photo is the first self service grocery store. (I can't even imagine a full service grocery store!) Look at the shoppers. Hats and gloves. Not one pair of pajama pants or sweats in sight. 
When was the last time you went to a grocery store that had nice light fixtures, columns, a pretty ceiling? Heck, when was the last time you went to a grocery store and your checker was wearing a coat and tie? Addressed you as "ma'am"? 
I look at a store like the next one, and it's not hard to imagine the shoppers.
 They mostly look like this.
And how about hotels? This one had a great lobby. And it probably wasn't the most expensive hotel on the block, either.
This is what you get now.
 I know why. Wood was cheap back then, and so was labor. It was cheaper to add molding to cover mistakes than it was to insist on plaster walls and ceilings without mistakes. That isn't how it is now. But it's still sad.
And courtrooms. I was so disappointed when I reported for jury duty a few years ago and instead of something resembling this
(and this isn't even the grandest room I could find.) 

I got something more like this.


Florescent lights and cinder block walls. It was a bunker. I didn't walk in and feel that quiet reverence for the law that I was hoping I'd feel. I just sat with my fingers crossed, hoping that I wouldn't be picked. I didn't want to sit in that room for 2 hours, let alone for an entire trial.
Look at this theater.
I don't think anyone is kicking the seat in front of them or talking during the entire movie in this theater.
 But here? All kinds of self-absorbed rudeness.
(There are reasons home theaters are so popular. I'd want one just so I wouldn't have to deal with the joker behind me who can't shut up. Plus, the floor wouldn't be sticky.)

What's my point? I think I have one.
(I know I'm rambling. I've been talking a lot of cold medicine.)
My point is~when you walk into a nice building, something that's more than utilitarian, don't you stand up a little straighter? Wonder how your hair looks? Wish you'd worn better shoes? I know I do. I think people want to behave better in a nice place, too. There are people who try to be polite and courteous no matter where they are. I try to be. I just think that as a society, where we are sometimes determines how we behave. And we don't always behave well. Does the lack of marble, tall windows and carved wood have anything to do with it? 


Katie @ On the Banks of Squaw Creek said...

You're so right. It reminds me of a library in a town near me. It is old and beautiful - a grand, majestic building, with a two story foyer that makes your footsteps echo. I love it.

Dropped Stitch Knitter said...

I agree. I love old architecture and woodwork... I can spend hours just looking through old buildings. That's why I love living in old cities. Where I'm living now, everything is old, but it's just outdated, not majestic.

Nina Patricia @ The Adventures of Nina Patricia said...

I couldn't agree more. I always wonder why in my country, which is an old country with a lot of European influences...but very small,we actually dress better to go out. I think is so sad that is now acceptable to go shopping in our PJ's. I've seen some really sad ensembles even in church.SIGH. I wanna go back :)

Marie @ Chocolate-Covered Chaos said...

Indeed. I think the look matches the goal/attitude. Everything is quick casual assembly line style. (our food, customer service, haircuts, banking) Like you, I find it sad. Even church has become a casual place. I'm not complaining that more and more people are wearing jeans to a Sunday service. I think God's happy we're there. But I've also been seeing a lot of cleavage in the pews. Last Sunday, there were 10 year olds playing hand held video games throughout the whole service. I think maybe when we drop the beauty, awe, and respect...we're also dropping our expectations. Scary.

Something Nice and Pretty said...

I agree with you 100% we sure have lost it...I live in a college town and the first time I saw a female student in Kwik Fill in pj bottoms and slippers I about fell over, my parents would have killed me. I think self repect is way low too! Thanks for this post I enjoyed it!


Never Enough Thyme Creations said...

Great thought provoking post!! Not only are the grand buildings no longer being built, but the artistry and craftsmanship that went into these buildings is no longer appreciated. We have sold ourselves out to cheaper and made in China than hand crafted and made in America. Ahh, the good old days!

Red Gate Farm said...

I love this post! We just visited the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and it is housed in an old bank... complete with stained glass dome... we just talked about how banks aren't what they used to be! We also walked through the first floor of "the Bay" in downtown Toronto and it is an old building, an old department store just like days gone by...

We have an old local post office from the 30's and I love to stand in line there and look at everything, all the detail that no longer goes into anything. We're also fortunate to have an old movie theater very similar to the one you pictured except a bit smaller. It is no longer a movie theater but was refurbished and is used for live performances. When I was young (way back in the 70's it was still a movie theater and there was even a little booth outside where you bought your tickets!

Thanks for all of the memories!

Sara @ thesherlockshome said...

I had to laugh at your photo of a current bank...not sure if this was the case with this particular bank, but we don't even have the luxury anymore of "going to the bank"....it's "stopping by the bank and then getting a gallon of milk FROM THE SAME STORE".

It's more than style we've lost at this point. There's no longer an appreciation for the artistry that used to be put into building. Anymore, it's all about what's quick and cheap - to build and to maintain. An entire cookie-cutter subdivision can be built in the time (and the same cost) it took to build a single beautiful home years ago. Rather than training for years and years under a master builder before being able to work on their own, a "builder", anymore, is whomever has slapped a vinyl sign on the side of his truck, and hired a couple idiots who can't get a job anywhere else. They don't really know what they're doing, but they paid the money to get licensed, so they're "builders".

Impatience to get the finished product has killed the appreciation for the materials and skill required to build things like they were once built. We've schedueled ourselves out of the time it takes to maintain unique, well-made finishes. Our quick cleaning products are to harsh to use on the surfaces of many of those finishes, and the idea of using elbow grease to get something clean horrifies far to many. And to many would rather purchase the same item over and over every few years, than invest the money into purchasing a well-made piece that will last a lifetime.

I do see a difference with many bloggers though...there's a great appreciation for the artistry of old workmanship, and a willingness to put effort into bring a tattered old piece back to life. It's something I wish would spread to the mainstream. Your photos of days past are lovely!

melody-mae said...

i totally agree, we have lost the beauty that is for sure! we went to europe this past summer and man o man...old buildings with gorgeous paintings, beautiful rod iron...even the windows& doors...the beauty was amazing. oh wow!

i loved this post today!

Jenifer said...

Amen! I love this post!

Ido said...

I'm with you and I'm not French! sadly that's the way it is in this time, I hate to see people in the street wearing pajamas. There is no passion for living anymore, sense of grandeur, beauty, self respect.... and I could go on and on and on. Great post, love it! I even became your follower! Bonne nuit mademoiselle!

Jillsy Girl said...

You've definitely got a point! Everything these days is casual. Casually made, casually dressed, casual language. Respect has also been kicked out of the arena. Very sad.

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

i totally agree suzanne. but along with that sterile manufactured look of buildings we also get sterile and manufactured service. it's not personal like it used to be, like the buildings were. we're all just numbers sadly.

Hilary @ Sweet as June said...

well put suzanne... i love this post.

Gloria Fox said...

You are so right! I wish builders still took pride in the buildings they throw up. Like the ceiling tiled, florescent light, grey cube that I have to work in. It certainly doesn't make me feel proud to work here. (don't tell my boss I said that) And it also is reflected in how people dress. I know I feel better, smarter, taller, when I dress nice. I can't believe what some people walk out of the house in. And they say, "I don't care what people think." Well, shouldn't you?!?

Great post! I'm sharing on FB and Twitter if you don't mind.

Polly said...

First off, hope you are feeling better!

Secondly, this post leaves me a little sad. I soooo love old architecture and character you find in the old buildings. And I hate it when I go to the grocery and have to use "self check out". I love it when I find a little mom and pop shop or a boutique where the merchandise and the service are reminiscent of years past!

Great post! Thanks!


P.S. Did you get my email Suzanne? I had a question about a product you posted about eons ago. Let me know!!

letstalkhealthy said...

My mom would have loved this post. She loved to talk about how they used to dress up to travel by train to New Orleans! Love your blog and appreciate so much how this reminded me of my mom :)

NanaDiana said...

You have put words to what I have thought so many times. I wonder what some of those people in those picutres would think if they could see the People Of Walmart site? We still have a couple of those grand old banks in operation AND we have the County Courhouse here that has been kept original and is gorgeous...but most of the old downstown stores were vacated and torn down when the big malls went up on the outskirts of town. Lovely post, Suzanne. Hope you are feeling better ! xxoo Diana

Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal said...

Very well put! Heck we can't even go to a teller anymore without being charged for that. And what about travel. I remember when my parents would travel and they would get dressed up! It was a treat just to go to the airport or the train station. People who wear their pjs and slippers to the store irk me so bad. Sorry if anyone out there does this but just put on a pair of pants and shoes. Please!

Oh and feel better. You are talking a lot of cold medicine, hahaha!

tale of many cities said...


Barbara said...

Jillsy sent me over here after she saw my post from yesterday (http://barbarashalluephotography.blogspot.com/2011/03/el-capitan.html) I do miss those grand buildings! I have to confess that our old Capitan had sticky floors and we didn't always behave in there with a lot of respect (spit wads from the balcony, for example.) But kids have always been kids, I guess.

the momma (aka Shannon) said...

totally completely 100% agree!
years back the philadelphia orchestra made the move from the old academy of music to the big new kimmel center. while the kimmel center is gorgeous and a masterpiece of engineering and acoustics...well, there's just something sad about the loss of red velvet and gilding...excessively huge chandeliers and painted ceilings...
fortunately the academy is still in use, and i'm always happy to take a deep musty breath when we visit. :o)

Yanet @ 3 Sun Kissed Boys said...

Grocery store, classy!

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