Saturday, November 09, 2013

Saturday November 9, 2013...THINGS CHANGE


I'm now in the elder state of life. I, and my fellow elders, can now remember a world that is no more. My father used to tell me of a world before I came of open prairies and clean, clear streams. He missed the fenceless open pasture of central Kansas and the unpolluted streams that you could drink from. I never knew that world, so I didn't miss it. I remember a world of small farms and small towns with local and state highways connecting them. I remember drives into the country through town squares and country cafes and burma-shave adds and telephone poles along each road. I remember one car families with empty streets during the day. I remember stay at home mothers caring for their kids after school. Before television, we would play outside a lot and in the evening we would listen to radio programs. Neighbors all looked out for each other and their kids. There were neighborhood markets and dime stores and drug stores and movie theaters all withing walking distance. Milk was delivered by the milk man and bread was delivered by the Manor man. When it snowed, some of the hilly streets were closed off from traffic and the children went sledding in the streets. There were no shopping centers, no Kmarts, no Walmarts, no chain drug stores, no super markets, no Home Depots. There were no visa or mastercard credit cards. You had to establish credit with each store you shopped in or with money loaned to you by the bank or cash on hand. You had a local gas station where they also worked on cars. All the local stores hired young kids to help on a part time basis which gave a young person their first taste of employment and cash management. Music was only available over AM stations and there was no stereo. It wasn't until the development of transistors that there were portable radios available. Television, when it came, was only in black and white and only on in the evenings to start with. Air conditioning was only available in movie theaters and ice cream parlors. There were no fast food restaurants, only cafes and a few drive-ins. Any after school activities had to be within walking distance because dad had the family car to go to work and mom was at home doing the laundry, without a dryer, or preparing dinner, without a microwave or prepackaged food, or doing dishes, without a dishwasher. Clothes were not wrinkle free and had to be ironed by hand. Houses were left open during the warm season to help cool and they needed to be dusted quite often. Before oil burners and gas burning furnaces coal had to be stored in the coal bin and shoveled into the furnace daily. The coal deposited a fine black dust on clothes that had to be washed off. Before calculators and computers there were comptometers to add up figures for offices and many people were employed at comptometer operators. Engineers used sliderules and books of logarithmic tables to help calculate. There were no copy machines, so people used carbon paper to make copies of what they were writing or typing. Typewriters were all manual (no electric) and any mistakes had to be dealt with on the original as well as the carbon copies. Records were only available on 78 rpm hard plastic disks before 45 rpm and eventually 33 1/3 rpm vinyl disks were invented. There were reel-to-reel recorders available, but very expensive. 8 track and cassette player/recorders came along later. Later yet, CDs and DVDs and digital recording became available. Before jet planes, the constellation was the largest airliner used to fly between cities. Planes and trains were the fastest way to travel across the country because there were no interstate highways.

These are some of my memories of a world that no longer exists and that younger folks would not recognize. Their memories will be of a different world. Whose world is better? Who really knows? Things change, some for the good – some for the bad. I like my memories, I liked my world. Some things have gotten easier and the world has become more instant and seems smaller. But that's my viewpoint, from one of the elders.

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