Quite by accident, I ventured down another memory rabbit hole the other day. Unlike the previous trip taken during lockdown, which was purposeful, this one sprang from something as mundane as a search for a missing checkbook.
Desk drawers, plastic containers in closets, file cabinet drawers, lock boxes, etc., were all searched and then searched again for good measure. It’s rather concerning, but I am also not in a panic about it. The checkbook is from a secondary account with a grand total of $125 in it. A significant amount perhaps, but thankfully not one that will keep me up at night. Still, we do like to keep track of financial instruments both large and small. That particular search will continue.
In the midst of it, however, I came upon an old athletic bag that I’ve owned since high school. Its original use is long retired, and for the last 40 years or so its job has been to hold cords, dongles, adaptors, convertors, doohickeys, and thingamabobs for anything computer, audio, or TV-related. Each time I solve a problem with a new peripheral, the earlier device goes into this bag. It’s admittedly a one-way transaction; the items are mostly ignored and just sit in the bag to await a future use. An Island of Misfit Toys, if you will.
I am someone who gets distracted easily. Bored from looking for that checkbook, I instead stare at the Adidas bag and wonder what treasures might lurk in there. I remember using it in college to stash copies of Playboy and Penthouse, plus the occasional small bag of weed which thankfully my parents never discovered. Funny that. The nudie magazines would have elicited a smirk but grass probably meant that I was heading to a life of ominous implications. Praise the Lord that the eventual Walk Man, Disk Man, CD Deck, VCR’s, etc., saved my soul!
See what I mean? I do get distracted.
But please do get your collective minds out of the gutter. This is a G-rated blog. While I assure you no nudies will be shown, I will fulfill your munchie fantasies if you promise to stay till the end of the post.
Within the tangled mess of ancient cords and previous-generation USB gear, I found at the very bottom of the bag something I had completely forgotten about: a Zip Drive device purchased sometimes in the late nineties; along with several corresponding Zip Disks, all rubber-banded together. Checkbook/shmeckbook, this looks like WAY more fun.
A wave of dread immediately comes over me. I have absolutely no idea what is saved on these disks. Some memories might be wonderful, others not so much. That trip down memory lane I took during the pandemic (with old family letters) was heartwarming. But reminders of troubling and uneasy moments from my mid-adult years might turn out to be disconcerting. As if I need even more fodder for those unsettling thoughts at 2:00am, amiright?
Still, though, what the hell is on these disks? There’s really only one way to find out.
Although my present Mac now has different external ports (gee thanks, Apple), I have a nifty-keen adaptor attached to it that allows me to use the older USB plugs found on the Zip Drive. I hook it up and watch it load with that familiar “whizz” sound. Ah yes, the sounds of circa 1998.
I must have spent at least three hours looking at the contents on all the disks. You read about data being corrupted because of age and environmental conditions, but all the disks and their contents remain intact. The first thing I noticed is how every document had a “.wpd” extension on it. That meant WordPerfect, which for a long time was the dominant word processing program. My Mac, however, had no friendly software that will open those old files. Some sleuthing on Google leads me to a downloadable program called LibreOffice, which easily opens the aged WordPerfect files as promised.
I find embarrassingly-written resumes and job application essays, letters to friends and family referring to dinners and get-togethers that I can no longer recall, and lots of to-do lists. I must have thought making a to-do list on a computer was way savvy and modern of me.
I find a letter written by my dad to someone named RB; I assume he must have had my oldest sister type it because (a) Dad didn’t own a computer, and (b) he had no typing skills. But I love the following line from it:
“Sylvia [my mother] and I are both in our mid-80s. So we do a lot of existing.”
Mostly, though, there are a lot of pictures on each disk. Many are scenes from my first marriage, and various groupings of friends, siblings, in-laws, etc. There are also photos of things about which I have almost completely forgotten. For instance, we briefly had a Scottie dog named Ashley. She was a rescue. She was also deaf, which for her meant that she hated being alone. She barked constantly until we came home. The neighbors hated her… and probably us because of that. We ended up giving her to an elderly woman who loved Scotties and rarely left her home. They were a perfect match for one another.
I was also reminded of some of my more interesting purchases. For a time I apparently searched for that more rugged, inner me. I don’t think I ever found it, but it was nevertheless interesting blaring “In The Court of the Crimson King” from the open windows of my Ford Ranger on the streets of Fresno.
A picture of my mother and my oldest sister was a nice find. It was taken five years before Mom’s death. She was 88 when this picture was taken. I’ve duly sent it off to my sister, who was delighted to see it for perhaps the first time.
Some photos show me at my job. Beware of those rugged, truck drivin’ law librarian types…
I probably got through at least 80% of the Zip Disk contents before I decided I’d had enough. What with new covid variants, the monkeypox virus, and G-d knows what other fresh hell awaits us in the coming months, I figure there’s always the specter of another lockdown to offer more time for nostalgia. This is probably enough fun for now.
For those of you who are still pondering that earlier weed from the eighties, I’ll leave you with a little something to quell those munchies. Gorgeous recently tried her hand at making bagels. Add a little cream cheese and some lox and let’s all get comfortably numb.
Until next time…