2018. What will happen in the coming year? I will turn 60. Yikes. My husband will turn 70. Yikes, again. With the passing of another year, it is inevitable to think of how time passes, yes? New Year has a different meaning as you age…
I remember when I was in high school and we read the book, “1984” in Freshman English. It seemed so far into the future, I found myself hoping I was still alive by then. Of course, I was alive. I had my second child that year. I was 26 years old.
I remember hearing my dad talk about all the changes he had witnessed in his lifetime; the incorporation of televisions, cars, tractors, running water, indoor plumbing; the “modernization” of his world. I find myself ticking off a list of my own.
Remember the microwave oven? I don’t remember the year, or the first one I owned but I remember thinking how remarkable it was…like magic. You were really lucky to own one and they were huge. Now, you can get them in all sizes and colors – with lots of additional features. Every home has one.
I remember in the early 80’s when VCR’s were the big thing – you rented a VCR and videos! You had to haul that big thing home, connect all the appropriate wires. Of course, people began buying their own VCR’s and just renting the videos. Every Friday night involved a trip to the video store to rent movies for the weekends entertainment. Then came satellite television (for those of us “country dwellers” who couldn’t get cable). Now, you can get a multitude of movie channels, sports channels, kids TV, Nature channels, history channels – all from the comfort of your own couch. Of course, you pay for it but it seems like it is free….. In addition to that, there are “smart” TV’s that practically turn themselves on! I happen to know that my TV is much smarter than I am!
My first cell phone was a big heavy thing, with a huge battery and an antenna. It was only used in an emergency. Now? Phones are a mainstay for most people. A lifeline — for music, movies, the internet, texting, stapchatting, instagramming…we are CONSTANTLY on the hook to our phones. What would we do without them? We have blue tooth, speaker, hands free in the car….we can talk at any point and with unlimited restrictions (other than a signal and enough battery).
The actual use of a phone has changed tremendously. Back in the day, most households had a phone. It was usually centrally located in the house and if you were lucky, it had a long enough cord so you could move around a bit while talking. When I was younger, we still had party lines — multiple houses on a single phone line — so if someone was using the phone you could pick up the receiver and hear their conversation. It must have been in the late 60’s early 70’s when our valley finally got private lines for everyone. Amazing.
Billing for the phone was a base rate plus additional charges for every long distance call. Long distance calls were frivolous ventures and only to be used as necessary; long distance charges were carefully monitored. While people may have chatted extensively on the phone with local calls, long distance calls were carefully scrutinized. You stated your business then were done.
When I went to college, because of the concern about the cost of long distance calls, a call home was a rarity – once a week at most. We wrote letters instead. We even had a code when we needed to let our parents know we arrived somewhere safely, we would call home “collect” and our parents would refuse to accept the charges and they would know that we arrived at our destination without costing a cent! In this day and age, collect calls are a rarity, unless it is from someone in jail!
If you needed to tell someone something, you had to wait until you got to a phone. If you wanted to see your grandchild in the next state, you had to wait for a photo in the mail. Now, you can have moment to moment contact with Skype or Facetime. Job interviews, banking, scheduling are done over the phone. You don’t hustle door to door to get a job, you go on line and submit an electronic application. An APP sorts through the applications and eliminates those who are unqualified. You get a text or email thanking you for your interest, but no thanks. What a world, what a world.
Most young people probably don’t even remember pay phones. Its hard to find one these days! They used to be on every corner and we all used to carry a dime, just in case. Of course, the last time I used a payphone (in the 80’s?), it was up to a quarter per call. I don’t even know how much the charge is now! You probably have to use a credit card.
The first home I remember living in was an old granary that my dad and grandpa converted into living space. It was a three room shed with no insulation other than tar paper wrapping to block the wind. There was a small bedroom, a kitchen and a living room. I think there was a pump for water in the kitchen, but no water heater. Water was heated on the stove. Mom and dad slept in the bedroom and had a curtain for a door. My two siblings and I slept in the living room on the couch and an old twin bed. We had a wood stove for heat and another for cooking. Our bathroom was an old outhouse just up the path from the house. I don’t remember a lot about that house other than from photos I’ve seen and stories I’ve heard — I’m not even sure how long we lived there. What I do know, is that we’ve come a long way from there! What changes will 2018 hold?