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Future nostalgia

AS a veteran of many crafts fairs, I have watched lacemakers, weavers, quiltmakers, leatherworkers, and candlemakers in the midst of creation. Their handmade products are not a part of the lives of most Americans. What were once common and necessary items in the daily routine have become interesting accessories, prized novelties. The production process has been elevated, or relegated, to the status of folk art. I've been aware of certain common practices disappearing from the daily scene, so I have some candidates for folk arts of the future, the near future. The next generation will be treated to demonstrations of these quaint customs.

I foresee a booth with onlookers crowded around it to watch someone manipulating shoelaces. With all the Velcro fasteners, the need to teach shoe-tying is declining. We have moved from ``one, two buckle my shoe'' to tying a double knot to pressing strips of Velcro. An adult will exclaim with nostalgia, ``I remember doing that when I was a kid.''

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And there's leaf raking. I came upon a chilling sight last fall. While walking to the library I heard the teeth-gritting sound of a chain saw. As I approached a small front yard, it was apparent that the noise was coming from a contraption on a man's back. He wore ear protectors as he aimed a hose at the yellow leaves on his grass. Several years down the road, people will need to be shown the fine art of raking leaves - the combination of long and short strokes with the rake to herd the leaves into orderly piles. This activity allows one to dwell on important things to the accompaniment of rustling leaves. With people intent on vacuuming their yards, the contemplative art of raking leaves seems on the way out.

Another fast-disappearing skill is dishwashing, by hand, that is. In a crafts fair of the future, this demonstration will begin over a tub of hot, sudsy water. The glassware will be done first, then silverware, followed by dishes. The craftsperson will demonstrate the use of both dishcloth and brush. The pots and pans will be last. All will be rinsed in hot water. If the demonstrator is well versed, the glass and silver will be dried with a linen cloth.

I imagine that tacked to these booths will be sign-up sheets for those interested in taking classes. A child will clamor for a pair of those old-fashioned shoelaces being sold at the booth. On an impulse, a young couple will purchase a handcrafted rake and a linen dish towel framed to hang.

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