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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Times ... They Are A Changin'

I was reading a book the other day, and in it the main character kept using a pay phone. It struck me as odd. He wasn’t poor, and cell phones are available at any convenience store. Then I checked the front of the book and realized it was published in the 90’s. But it got me thinking … times sure have changed.

My parents used to tell me stories about their childhood, and I’d wonder if they were telling the truth. My mom, for example, would tell me about a man who would come to her house via horse drawn wagon to deliver big blocks of ice (I’m unclear on why, exactly, though I think it had something to do with ice boxes … or, perhaps my grandparents were professional ice sculptors).  She also insists she used to sit outside electronic stores and watch the TV shows through the window. My dad, on the other hand, used to tell me that things cost pennies, nickels, or dimes. A quarter, he insists, bought your way into a movie with enough left over to get popcorn.

I wonder what things I’m going to tell my son that will make him laugh, or scratch his head. Would he think it strange that we used to have phones on street-corners? Or that people used to rent movies from stores. Will he think I’m lying when I tell him you could take a girl to dinner and a movie for just forty dollars? Or that minimum wage was $8.00/hour.

I never had a lot of opportunity to talk to my grandparents before they passed away, so I’m not all together sure what it must’ve been like for them growing up (I imagine saloons, horses, and duels at high-noon). I am excited to watch as my son hears stories from my parents about their childhoods. I can practically hear future-him giggling as my mom tells him about the leather-apron-wearing “ice man,” or my dad talking about all the loot he could buy with a dollar.

So what about you, fellow bloggers/blog readers? What do you think the next generation will laugh about?     


Anna said...

They would already laugh that I was paid $6/hr for my first job, and that minimum wage was $5.15 . Or that when I started driving, gas cost less than two dollars a gallon.

Morgan said...

Haha...I'm sure your grandparents were professional ice sculptors...unfortunate that none of their work is still around ;)

Fun post! I'm sure gas prices will be a big one, fashion trends, and maybe: "You mean, you didn't have Botox as a kid, dad?" <---haha! Awful.

Makes me want to go speak with my grandparents while they're still here :)

Porter said...

The early memories will interest more my grandchilren than my children as your parents' did you. 26 cent a gallon gas, Sputnik, seeing bombed out buildings in europe that I played in as a child. So many More.
But I fear what I might be able to tell him about things like freedom and travel or perhaps ample clean water and freedom from fear on the streets, things like that which he might not find believable.
I'm not a left wing liberal and I am not as concerned with what we are doing now that might happen in the next few decades.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think they will laugh that we used to use keyboards to type.
I remember ten cent candy bars. Now they are a buck. Scary, huh?

Carrie Butler said...

My nephew laughs at me when I tell him The Oregon Trail used to be my favorite "computer game". :) Great post, Steve!

K. Turley (Clutzattack) said...

Cassette tapes and VCRs were part of my childhood and I already feel "old" since they're completely outdated now.

Oooh, and the days of carrying a Thomas Guide in the car in case I had to look up directions.

Steven W said...

Anna - I totally agree with the gas prices - my first job was at a gas station and the price per liter was 70 cents. It's $1.20 now, and I've seen it higher than that. I cringe to think what it'll be in 16 years when my son starts driving.

Morgan - LOL - botox better not become the norm. If I'm an old man and everyone around me expressionless I may have to start hitting people with my cane.

Porter - Travel is a big one. As someone who loves to travel, I sure hope the borders to other countries remain open when my son is old enough to travel. In fact, I hope more borders are open.

Alex - Ten cent chocolate bars sound pretty good - I remember them at just over 50 cents, but I distinctly remember going to the corner store to get one cent candies, and now those same candies are still there, but they're all 5 cents.It's a travesty!

Steven W said...

Carie - I've never played The Oregon Trail, but I played another one just like it. Also, the Atari 64 ... anyone for a game of pong?

K. Turley - too true. I just cleaning out a few boxes and found a VHS tape that is labeled with a single word: "Hilarious!" and I have no way to watch it to see what I thought was so funny.

JeffO said...

Funny you should mention Pong, I've been drafting a blog post for months now that mentions Pong. It was the first video game I ever played. It was in the lobby of a toy store near my house.

I remember strange things like black-and-white TVs, having to get up to turn the dial to change the channel (and only having 5 useful channels to watch anything on), and life before ATMs. If you didn't go to the bank before the weekend, you were screwed.

~Charity~ said...

I wonder if they'll believe there was a time when we didn't post our lives for all to see via Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc. And would they ever understand the point of having a music album (records, tapes, cds) when they can just purchase one song without ever having anything to hold on to? I doubt it.

J.C. Mogensen said...

I saw a funny pic the other day of a pencil and a cassette with a caption that read, "Your kids will never understand the connection."

Anonymous said...

What a great post! My husband and I often talk about how our kids will look at us when we're crazy when we talk about an androgynous Michael Jackson who looked white but was black. The other day, they came across a picture of a video tape and were baffled as to what it was. They're only toddlers now, so we're definitely going to sound ancient when we talk about the past to them. :D

Adriana Ryan

Steven W said...

Jeff O - I remember the dial TVs too. The one we had had two dials so you could go past twelve channels. I wonder if the next generation would be able to figure out how to turn those bad-boys on.

Charity and J.C Mogensen - You guys mention "tapes" and I instantly remember the old days when I'd make a mix tape by sitting next to the radio with my finger on the "record" button, just waiting for the station to pay a song I liked (I guess that was pirating, but I was probably nine at the time, so I think the statute of limitations is up on that one).

Steven W said...

Adriana - I think when my son is old enough, maybe 8 or 9, I'll get him some sort of long expired technology. Maybe an 8-track (although those were before my time), just to watch the baffled expressions as he tries to sort out precisely how to turn it on.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. I was fascinated with my mom's old records when I was a teenager. I have no idea where they went since then, since we're out of working machines that can play them, but I can see those being bizarre to my nieces. I also think that just remembering a time before having a computer will seem very funny to them.

Rin said...

My dad collected a ton of laser discs when I was a kid. We had a whole bookshelf stacked full of them. He had all the classics, too - from Casablanca to Evil Dead to Romancing the Stone to Tootsie.

Ohhh, and game consoles. Nintendo, Famicom, Super NES, Sega, I played them all. :) And don't forget using cotton buds to clean out the cartridges!

Avery Olive said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Avery Olive said...

I was forced to think about this five years ago when my son was born. There was a page in his babybook that asked how much things cost (milk, gas, bread) who was the president, who were the top famous actors/actresses and sports stars, what famous movies came out. And I too wondered if he'd read it later and laugh. Becuase only having had five years pass, so much has changed already.

When I started working, my first job was McDonalds, I got paid 6.10 though minimum wage was 5.90, gas for my car was 62 cents a litre and when I started smoking (that's bad by the way) a pack of cigarettes wwa 5.25. Now you are lucky if you can find anything under 10 bucks.

Also, I still have a working record player that I still use, and hope I can keep forever!

Suzie Tullett said...

Great post... My kids already laugh at some of the music me and their dad listened to. They think we're ancient because there was no internet freely available, if available at all! In fact, computers were only just available.

Anways, just to finish I thought I'd let you know that you're included in my list of deserving Versatile Blogger Award recipients x

Steven W said...

Thanks, Suzie! I've never heard of the Versatile Blogger award, but awards are great. I'm heading to your blog to check it out now.

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