Monday, June 29, 2009

Card Catalogs

I have written in the past about cultural artifacts that have disappeared from the scene over my lifetime. Today, I thought about another one that escaped while we weren't looking. I was recording the movie Awakenings, and did a spot check on it. The scene I saw was Robin Williams in a library, searching through a card catalog. I suspect many younger folks today would not know what this is. One of the first things we were taught in the elementary school library was how to use the card catalog, along with the Dewey Decimal System to classify books.

Now replaced by the much more versatile and manageable computer database, the once ubiquitous card catalog has come and gone. I don't know of any library that still uses one, although I would not be surprised if some very small libraries do so.

There was something edifying about the feel of the file drawers, and their collection of data cards inside, typed by a librarian and placed in the correct sequence in the catalog. The procedure was to take a piece of scrap paper and jot down the title and the Dewey Decimal Number, and then proceed to the shelves to find the particular book of interest. It was a skill so critical that it was reinforced in high school as part of the exercise of researching and writing term papers.

So even as we gain new technologies, let's not forget what came before. The sample card here is actually a product of computer technology. I created it at the Catalog Card Generator.

Gale Storm Makes Seven

Seems that my counts of recent celebrity deaths was one off, since I had forgotten about the death of actor David Carradine in Thailand. So adding that one brings us to six, and now we have actress Gale Storm who died yesterday to raise the recent celeb deaths count to seven.

Gale was born Josephine Cottle, and achieved stardom in the cowboy movies, including some with Roy Rogers. Later moving to television, she co-starred in the program My Little Margie, and later The Gale Storm Show. Margie started as a CBS summer replacement for I Love Lucy, and quickly found a following. The show moved to NBC where it had a successful run.

Gale Storm was 87 years old.

And Fred Makes Five

The deaths of celebrities continue to mount. Comedian Fred Travalena succumbed to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at his home in Encino, California. Coincidentally, Travalena appeared in the premiere episode of a 1991 sitcom titled Good Sports, which starred the late Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal. Fawcett, of course, died last Thursday after a lengthy struggle with cancer.

Fred Travalena was 66 years old.