My birthday was yesterday, and it was a very good day. I spent it all with my Shweebie Pie! I took a vacation day and she was off work.
One of the things we did was get a new phone for me. Mine was generations old, and I had an upgrade coming my way on our plan.
That got me to thinking how things have changed since I was a child. No cell phones, no cable, no air conditioning, and things at least felt a lot simpler.
When I was quite young I remember countless hours at my grandmother’s house just across the street. She still used the milkman. Once a week he delivered milk and other dairy products as ordered. He drove his truck along the alleys, walked up to the house, and set everything in a special delivery box in the wall. I’d be in the kitchen, listening for him. I’d hear the outer door to the box built into the wall open and close. Then I’d open the door inside and help Grandma put it all away.
She would tell me how it was not too long ago that he had a horse-drawn wagon. He’d get off at one end of the alley with his milk carrier. The horse then knew to go ahead and wait for him several houses down!
My Grandma had an old hand-cranked Victrola in the basement with wooden needles and everything. We’d crank it up and listen to the old hits!
TV’s were black and white only. No cable; that was years away in the future. We had three stations, and all signed off by midnight. There was nothing but static in the wee hours.
Playing with my friends consisted of bike rides, football… everything that was outdoors. I remember there was a particular big tree in the park at the end of the block. The grass was thin under this big, shady giant. We all grabbed rakes from home, cleaned out everything from underneath, and presto! Dirt track for bicycle races.
Encyclopedia salesmen went door to door trying to talk people into buying a multi-volume set.
Saturday was errand day, and we heard the same questions every time; is there gas in the car? How are we on groceries? Is there enough milk and bread? We had to make sure we had those things, because everything was closed on Sunday. No gas? No car. No groceries? No eats.
You might ask why they couldn’t at least leave the pumps on so you could pump it yourself. This was years before self-service. The guy pumped your gas for you, cleaned your windshield, and checked your oil. Gas stations only had a few pumps, and there was no mini-mart. There usually was a one or two bay garage, though. We went to the Texaco station just a block away, owned and operated by dad’s pal, Sparky. One Christmas I got a Texaco fire truck. COOL!
I remember when credit cards first came out. Everything was cash back in the 60’s. Then you started getting door-to-door salesmen hawking “Bank-Americard,” which later became MasterCard. Starting then, we paid more for what we buy because of the fees charged and – primarily – the interest rates when your spending got out of control. People put themselves too far in the hole, and bankruptcy became a more familiar word.
No cell phones. Just a black, rotary dial phone. No buttons, no features, no internet, and sure as heck no camera.
Ah, computers! Do you know what I would have given for a computer to type my master’s thesis? I composed it on a legal pad and then typed it on a typewriter. At least it was electric and had an erase ribbon. I’d type a few paragraphs, then leave the paper in the machine until I could get back to my apartment and finish the page. This was 1983! Computers were still a few years off.
When I started being a factory rep and travelling for my job, the company gave us calling cards. No cells. Phone calls? Messages? Stop somewhere to find a payphone. When was the last time you saw a pay phone? What would Superman do today? I bought a cell phone, as Julie worried that I couldn’t call for help, if something bad happened. It was expensive and clunky, but it was a lifeline if I had a problem and couldn’t find a pay phone nearby.
Today? We are by and large addicted to our cellphone/camera/weather station/stereo/computer/mailbox… We’re also belled cats. We work longer hours than ever, because we carry our office phone and desk (laptop) with us wherever we go. Workaholics have taken over, and the rest of us must dance to their tune.
But I’m also alive thanks to medical advances. And there are the drugs. J
Do you know how you catch a wild pig? Set out bowls of food every day. Once the pig is comfy with that, set a piece of fence in front of the bowl. As he gets more and more comfy with the setup because of the food, you add pieces of his cage until the last one is the gate.
Pork chops or bacon anyone?
So that’s where we are, my friends. We’ve traded a lot for gadgets and 24 hour gratification. Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the beginning and get some freedom back? Not possible, you say? Au contraire!
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
Talk about a retirement package! Make sure you’re vested!