There was a time when I could, well actually did, walk into RHV to replace the vacuum tube for a television set.

They had a display there where you could bring in the old tube, match it with the new tube on sight, take it home and actually fix a television.

Those days are long gone.

Here is what’s happened since those days.

Things — dishwashers, washing machines, microwaves, refrigerators, computers, cameras, BBQ grills, phones and televisions — don’t last as long as they once did. We never bought a new television set from the time I remember watching Captain Kangaroo to when I packed up my cardboard boxes and headed off to college. I’m pretty sure we didn’t replace the phone. As for a dishwasher, Mom never broke down either.

Now it costs so much to fix things that today we buy new and the old one ends up in the landfill.

Technology has played a huge role in our throwaway society. 

How many cell phones are in your desk drawer? I also have three cameras and five laptops.

Some will recall that Gordon Jump, the “Big Guy” on WKRP, also played the Maytag repair man. As a Maytag repair man, Jump didn’t have anything to do because Maytags were “the dependability people.” 

(In a side note, Jump graduated with a degree in journalism at Kansas State University. He worked one summer for KMAN/KMKF but he said the station manager told him he needed to find another job and work a little harder. He later did the weather at WIBW-TV.)

While there still are folks that will come to your home to repair an appliance, even in a pandemic, most of the time the cost of the repair is well over half of what a new appliance costs.

Things we once did:

• Darn socks (Do you even own a pincushion, or know where it is?)

• Patch overalls. We bought them at JC Penny located in what is now a vacant lot on Cedar Street.)

• Change spark plugs (I’m not sure I could find the spark plugs on my vehicle these days, however I know that the battery is under the driver’s side front wheel. Directions say the battery will come out without removing the wheel but my advice is to remove the wheel.)

• Glue a broken heel back on a shoe

• Sew on a button

• Repair a leaky faucet

• Replace the needle on the record player

• Clean a coffee pot

• Replace the engine in a vehicle

(I once fixed a car door with a rubber band because the part that broke cost too much. Later I learned that the part of a rubber bicycle tire worked better.)

• Repair the clothes dryer

(We had an electric clothes dryer that outlasted three washing machines. An electric clothes dryer consists of mostly two parts: rollers and a heating element.)

• Replace a broken window. (I watched my dad do this many times as he was proficient at rolling on the putty.)

Those days appear to be long gone as now we just roll through the many channels on the television that our forefathers would never have believed would be available.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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