I’m in love with a book – the 1987 Standard Industrial Classification Manual. Let me tell you why.

The SIC is a taxonomy of industries. The current edition, dated 1987, will be the last of a noble line which began in 1941: the publisher, that bestseller factory doing business as the Office of Management and Budget, has replaced this classification with a new system which is now just beginning to sweep aside the old. So it is time to appreciate the Manual while it’s still here.

The names in the SIC are accompanied by the sights and sounds of a world that has only just disappeared over the horizon, a world in which the expansive category of Eating Places (Industry No. 5812) still includes such now-extinct fauna as Automats, Beaneries, Box lunch stands, Frozen custard stands, and Tea rooms – not to mention the still-widespread foursome of Lunch bars, Lunch counters, Luncheonettes, and Lunchrooms (only their dearest friends can tell them apart) and the well-loved twins Pizza parlors and Pizzerias.

Read more of this essay of mine in things 19/20, available for purchase.