My wife and I are reminded of past pleasures by objects, and seem to have surrounded ourselves with them. My shop is full of old hand tools I don’t use, my office with things I have collected in various travels, and my basement with products that I no longer use, but that have served me well, or that I am fond of for other reasons.This photograph is of a couple of Apple computers I used to use, that I keep because they are visually interesting. I don’t have any fond memories of using them. But today’s computers although elegant in appearance, are not very interesting in appearance. These two were, and are, fun to look at, although I will never use them again.
Some of these pleasures are vicarious. The photo below is os a 1975 Alfa Romeo that was my oldest son’s first major purchase upon graduating from college, and then became the entree to my wife's sport car period. I have never driven it much because I don't really fit into it but it is fun, and I keep it because it reminds me of my son’s happiness to be on his own in Colorado with a new job and of my wife’s pleasure at zipping around in something Italian with the top down. Beside, it will make a great car for a grandkid some day—maybe for the daughter of the very same son.
Nostalgia for products can definitely cause one to fill up a lot of space. But there are advantages to doing so. Old products definitely remind one of past good times and experiences, which are usually even better in memory than they were when experienced. My yard full of tractors is an example (one to the left). It reminds me of the pleasure of growing up on a farm, even though I obviously didn’t want to be a farmer. To stay with vehicles as an example, older products also can furnish old-time luxury (the 1966 Cadillac), thrills (my 1970’s motorcycles), novelty (there is a similarity among modern automobiles), a culture (collectors of antique cars), and even be good investments (my XKE Jaguar if I restored it).
But in order for products to produce nostalgia, they must be of noteworthy quality. One tends to bond with such products over long periods of time, during which they serve one and one serves them. Many products I am nostalgic about both required maintenance, and were straightforward to maintain. My first car was a 1941 Chevrolet, and I drove it for many years, during which I repaired it many times. We became one, I loved it, and I should have kept it.
I do not feel strongly about throw-away products. I am not nostalgic about computers for instance. I don’t keep them long enough to become attached to them, and hate them when they cease working and I can’t fix them or they are no longer competitive and become e-trash (except for the two above). But I still use the hammer I used to put an addition on my parent’s house while in high school, and have lovingly replaced the handle and de-rusted it several times.