Now and Then Again
The Way We Were and the Way We Are
I owned Joseph’s Jewelry in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey (not the part of New Jersey they make jokes about) for 33 years until the continuing Great Recession, the forced corona virus shutdown of my nonessential business, finally did me in. I was a bench jeweler, stone setter, and gemologist.
I sent newsletters to about 1400 of my customers 3 times a year. The newsletters were an instant hit when I started them in 1997. They were so popular — people would call to thank me for sending them — I can’t believe I’m not rich. There were three four page letter size newsletters a year, Spring, Fall, and Holiday, mailed to my customers and also posted as a download on my web site, jewelrynewsletter.com, referenced occasionally in the book. I compiled the first 34 newsletters into a book titled Ornamentally Incorrect in 2008. This was followed by two other editions in 2011 and 2013. The 69th newsletter was done and ready to go when the shutdown happened; the articles from it are in this book.
In addition to jewelry, the newsletters had articles about consumer and middle class issues, money, economics, and the lighter side of life. The books also had politics sections that would have been inappropriate for the newsletters. I wrote about politics in the books mainly to see if I could. It’s not so easy. The politics are pretty mild, unless you’re not.
Since there’s nothing to watch on TV, I write. I had written so many articles about just about everything that I reorganized them into the first edition of Now and Then Again, The Way We Were and the Way We Are. The jewelry articles were put in one section, Bijoux and Beyond. I wrote many articles about the past which, juxtaposed with contemporary articles, are eerily resonant, hence the title.
In addition to the 56 newsletters I’d written by 2015 for the first edition of this book, I’ve now written 13 more newsletters plus articles too long or too political for them, which I added to the second edition. There are three more sections: Famous People You’ve Never Heard Of, Trump You!, and Forget-Me-Not, a poignant elegy on the last page.
There’s no detailed table of contents. There are about 1122 articles (you can count them different ways), up from 804 in the first edition, not including 88 notes and the 76½ pithy profundities styled Deep Thought scattered through the book, so it’s not feasible. It’s a nonlinear book anyway. Feel free to jump around in it. There are 394 photos and illustrations, black and white in the print edition and in color in the Kindle and ebook editions as well as this site; however, many of the older pictures are black and white.
About the cover: the illustration of a man sitting in his chair smoking a cigar watching a flat screen television was drawn by remarkably prescient French artist Albert Robida in 1892. See Back to the Future on page 404. The dancers on the back cover were originally what he was watching. I switched channels from 1892 to 1977 with John Travolta dancing in Saturday Night Fever, which I licensed. In the first edition he was watching the space shuttle Discovery taking off from Cape Kennedy October 23, 2007. That photo was free since we taxpayers funded it.