I always find it interesting to hear a younger person's perspective on the whole "what we take for granted" topic. And I have to admit that it does fill me with hope that at least some folks in the under 30 crowd do have an appreciation for how things were back in the "olden days."
It is an interesting exercise though...to think about what the world was like when I was a kid vs. what it's like today. And as a person who will be crossing that big five-zero landmark in a few years... well, let's just say that with age comes perspective.
Our family had one television set - a 19 inch black and white model that my parents bought to watch the Apollo 11 moon landing. I still remember being awakened in the middle of the night for that - I had absolutely no clue what was happening, but I got to be out of bed, so I was happy!
The TV pulled in a sum total of 5 channels (on a good day) and the stations all stopped broadcasting at around midnight. From then until morning all you got was static or a test signal.
There were no VCR's, and going to the movies was a treat we got to experience only a couple times per year - usually at the drive-in because it was cheaper and you could bring your own popcorn. I still remember making my mother turn down the scary music and hiding behind the seat backs during Jaws.
Music came on vinyl records - which were either the "long playing" 33 revolutions per minute variety - the so-called "LP" - or the singles which played at 45 rpms. Many an afternoon was spent enjoying the sound of Perry Como sped up to 45rpms so he sounded like the Chipmunks!
And remember those little inserts that you had to stick in the hole of the 45 so the spindle would have something to hold onto?
Of course, if you were really hip you might have an 8-track tape player, but I didn't know anybody cool enough to have one of those.
One year my brother and I whined loud enough and got Mom to splurge on a TV tennis game for Christmas. It wasn't a real "Atari Pong" system, it was a cheap knock-off, but I still spent HOURS glued to that thing!
But other than the TV tennis game, "toys" generally consisted of things like balls, skateboards, hula hoops, Pogo sticks and other things that you actually played with rather than looked at.
We had one telephone - a big black rotary dial model that hung on the wall of the kitchen.
There were no answering machines or call waiting, so if you couldn't get through you just had to try back later. We were lucky to have our own number, because a lot of our neighbors still had a party line.
Long distance service was expensive, so we only got to talk to the out of town relatives on birthdays and special occasions. The rest of the time we wrote letters.
Back in those days only the really rich families had 2 cars, so even though most women were stay-at-home moms, kids didn't get shuttled around like they do today. Instead we had things called bikes and feet.
My parents were divorced, which was a real oddity back then, and Mom had to work, so my brother and I were what was known as "latch key kids" from about age 7 or 8 on.
For those too young to remember this era, this meant that we walked home from school and let ourselves in, then we were pretty much on our own until Mom got home around 6 or 7 in the evening. It seemed perfectly normal at the time, but these days I think you might get jailed for child neglect if you took that approach!
Computers were enormous contraptions that filled up entire wings of academic buildings. And while there may have been some connections between large mainframes, there certainly was no "internet" as we currently enjoy it, so doing any sort of research meant going to a library.
And writing school papers? OY! You had to use an actual typewriter. We had an electric model, which was nice because you didn't have to push the keys down quite so hard.
But it still had the keys that flew up to strike the page, so if you accidentally hit more than one key at a time they'd get hopelessly stuck together.
And if you needed more than one copy... well, there weren't Xerox machines back then so you had to use carbon paper. OY!
And when you made a typo.... it was "OY" in duplicate or triplicate! Let's just say I spent a lot of time blowing on my term papers to get the liquid paper to dry...
In school when the teachers wanted to make copies of things, we had a mimeograph machine that you had to put fluid in and turn with a crank.
Remember that purple ink? Anyone? Anyone?
Microwave ovens were confined to places like restaurants and rich people, so convenience food meant TV dinners - which always came out a bit black around the edges.
Or those pouches of chicken a la king that you heated up in a pot of boiling water and poured over toast.
And it still cracks me up that they now have "instant macaroni and cheese"
Apparently the stuff that comes in the box is not quite instant enough for the younger generation - I mean really... having to wait 9 whole minutes for dinner?!?
When you wanted a drink of water you turned on the tap. I still remember that the first brand of bottled water to come out was called "Evian" which, when spelled backwards gets you "Naive." We all thought that was quite appropriate because who in their right mind would pay for water? Oh silly me...
And of course we didn't have a dishwasher - well, not unless you count me. So I got to wash all of the dishes by hand - every. single. night. - hence my lifelong hatred of doing the dishes!
We didn't have a clothes dryer either, so doing the laundry meant hanging it to drip dry in the basement.
When you wanted to take pictures you had to shoot a roll of film and then send it out to be developed. This usually took about a week or two, and if you were lucky about half of the pictures would turn out.
And when you went to the store the cashier actually had to punch in the price for each item from the price tag!
And, of course, you had to actually go to the store in order to buy things, unless you wanted to roll the dice with a mail order catalog.
And seriously, Netflix? Are you kidding me? I can watch virtually any movie I want whenever I want to? How can anybody not love Netflix?
But I have to admit, that there is a part of me that really longs for the days when things were slower, and people didn't expect you to be available 24/7.
At least ignoring the technology is still an option in most cases... and I get to pick and choose only the parts of all this "progress" that actually do make my life better.
So tell me, what things stand out to you when you think about how life was different when you were a kid? I'm curious to know which things feel like "progress" to you and which don't.