The first window blinds I remember were those at my grandparents’ house. They were in every single window and were not white but more of a tan color. To me, there were funny things and I touched them a lot. The blinds were only put up halfway so that it looked decent from the street. I suppose. They weren’t made of plastic but of a thick fabric that had been either oiled or glazed.
Heard the words “Holland cloth” in reference to the blinds which made me think that they must have come from Holland. Well, no they weren’t but I sure thought that. Each blind had a silky string cord that hung down in the middle and at the end of that cord was a circle that was covered in the same silky string. Loved to touch that circle and once when I did, the blind went zooming up to the curtain rod. Was in big trouble. But my grandfather only laughed and fixed that blind thank heavens.
These types of blinds were what everyone had in their houses. It was the thing to have.
But with the advent of plastic, window blinds drastically changed for that was what they were made of and they smelled a smelly smell. A distinct smell. Fumes permeated the entire room where those blinds were. Windows were opened to let that ghastly smell out. I remember that because I did it a lot, much to my parents’ disdain. And the blinds were snow white—not the familiar tannish color. Oh they blocked out light but not so much for that would happen a lot later.
The worst or the best thing about these new plastic window blinds was a built-in spring: If I were to pull it so it would go up, it went up all right. Like fast. And the worst thing was that if I pulled it up too quickly, the entire blind would wind round and round the pole on which it was attached. It was then that I had to call my mom or dad to fix it which to them was a never ending nightmare.
These new blinds didn’t have a silky corded string or a circle; instead, the bottom of the blind was really thick. That was good and that was bad. Good if I had to yank on it to go up and bad because my fingerprints were left on the white bottom. But oh someone came up with an invention of a pull which slid over the bottom of the blind and it was also decorative. Looked good but once again, not so good for if I pulled on that decorative slide, it would either fall off or up went the blind as fast as all get out.
By this time I had a love-hate relationship with window blinds. They smelled, they still flew up to the top and wound round and round unless I was careful and too many times they actually broke off from the pole that held them. That was called disaster. Worse was that if I pulled too hard and that blind went up too fast, it would also tear right smack down the side or the middle. Couldn’t count the times that happened and how many blinds had to be replaced. Too many times it seemed. And this happened in my young adult years. Could I fix a ripped blind? I don’t think so. A new one had to be bought and it didn’t last long either.
A newer version of the plastic blind came out; still snow white but with a white pattern on it. Why you ask? I have no idea. Certainly didn’t enhance the looks of them at all.
And with this advent of the newer version, what would I have in my classroom? Why I had the old tan ones that were left over from the Dark Ages. If the sun were glaring into the room, I’d pull all of them down—one at a time. And what do you think would happen? Well it never failed that one of them would roll up as fast as it could and just stay there while the students and I were blinded. Oh too many times, the custodian would appear and fix that blind for me; not only was I grateful but so were my students. The classroom windows were extremely tall and there were four in the classroom. Sometimes when the blind went zooming up, I’d stand on a chair and step over to the built-in cupboard to reach that thing. Never was a fun job ever.
I’ll never forget that on one specific day when I went to pull up the blinds, that two of them rolled up to the pole and just sat there. The custodian was not at school that day. My students and I had to turn our desks away from the windows but that day was pure torture. Worse was that it took three days for some men to come from the board’s warehouse to take down the broken blinds and replace them. Prior, those three days were sunny and the days were hot.
Oh and one principal decided that every teacher should make all the blinds in each classroom the same level so that it would look good from the outside. Do you think that every teacher did that? Of course not. But if they did, too many times those blinds went zooming up to the very top of the tall window. I know because that happened to me a lot. Frustrating to say the least.
When plastic mini-blinds came on the scene, I think that everyone in town not only got them but yelled a huge yell of hooray. Well, at least I did. No more smelly smell, no more pull cord or decorative slide to mess with but what did we get? Strings on the side. Did the strings get tangled up? You bet they did. But the strings also allowed the blind to be pulled up to any length. And attached to the left side was a long stick like piece that dangled down. Its purpose allowed anyone to open the mini-blinds a little or a lot.
We’ve come a long way with window blinds for who would want the ones made of material? They couldn’t be washed and when they got dirty, they were replaced. At least mini-blinds can be taken down and put in the bathtub to soak. Drying them is another story in itself. Oh and with these blinds that almost all of us have, slats do get broken or bent. My cat has destroyed way too many blinds by climbing through them at night to peer out. And so what do I have to do? Why buy replacements of course. But there are two good things about these blinds: They don’t smell to high heavens and they don’t roll up to the top of the window!
Window blinds: Love them or hate them. Have them or discard them.
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