As I take a look around my small, but humble apartment, I am absolutely amazed at how pampered and spoiled I really am. In my apartment I have all sorts of electronic gadgets that are used to help make my life easier. For example, I have a computer that I use for email to stay in touch with family and friends. I also use it for writing articles such as this one, and for storing files for future reference. With this electronic wonder I can also do a lot of my personal banking and bill paying right from the comfort of my home. I am also able to explore many new and interesting places in different locations of the world, connect with old friends, meet new friends, and increase my sphere of knowledge, all via that amazing marvel called the internet.
In my living room I have a high-definition television that I can tune to many channels to enable me to watch many different programs. I can even watch some of those programs in Spanish. In addition, I have a VCR and DVD player/recorder that I use to record programs that I want to watch at a later time. I also have a Blu-ray Disc player for watching movies, a radio and a CD player that I use for playing and listening to my favorite music. In my kitchen I have a microwave oven to heat my food in a matter of minutes. Also in the apartment building, on the bottom floor, are machines that I use to wash my clothes, and dryers to dry those clothes after they have been through the wash cycle.
Now let’s take a step back in time to the days of yesteryear. When I was a boy, we did not have all the conveniences in the home that we have today. For example, there were no computers in the home. If we wanted to stay in touch with someone we either called them on the telephone, wrote them a letter using paper and pencil, or we paid them a visit. In the latter years of my youth we did have a typewriter in our home that we could use to type letters instead of having to write them by hand. If we wanted to have a copy of the letter that we were writing we would put a piece of carbon paper between two pieces of paper and insert all three pieces into the typewriter. The big problem arose when we made a mistake and needed to correct something which usually meant having to start over. If we wanted to store files for future reference, we would normally keep them in cardboard boxes, bags, shoe boxes, or whatever was available that we could use to keep important information in a central location.
As a boy, I knew nothing of an internet. If I wanted to learn about different places in the world, I learned about such things at school or through reading encyclopedias and other books that were either available in the home or at the local library. In those days we did not have Kindles and eBooks like we have today. We had real books which became our best friends in the learning process. We did not have electronic gadgets that we could use to have our books, magazines, or newspapers read to us. Instead, we learned how to read and read those things for ourselves.
Even the telephone that we used in the home was much different from the telephones used today. I remember the days of the old party lines when you had to wait your turn in the queue to make a telephone call and then there was no real privacy as it was easy for anyone connected to your line to pick up their receiver and listen in on your conversation, which they often did.
Entertainment in our home was also interesting. For many years we had an old black and white television set with rabbit ears and an antenna on the roof. Every now and then my father would have to climb up on the roof to reposition the antenna, especially after a storm or heavy winds, and then readjust the rabbit ears to try to get better reception. There was never a need to argue over what channel anyone was going to watch as there were only 3 or 4 channels to even choose from. There was no need for a TV guide because most of the time the television remained tuned to the one channel that was the clearest and everyone had the lineup of shows memorized, especially those shows that we always watched on Saturday and Sunday nights. In those days we were not concerned about being shocked at what we might see on the screen as the shows that were broadcast were “family” shows in the truest sense. Years later we got our very first color television set. Up until that time I was convinced that everything in the world of television was black and white. Imagine being able to see blue skies and green grass on television. What a concept that was. We also had an old radio for listening to music and news broadcasts, and we had an old record player for playing our 16, 33 1/3, 45, and 78 speed records. There were no CDs, thus no CD players, and there were no IPods. We did have cassette tapes and 8-track tapes. The closet thing that we had to an IPod was a Walkman, and the first one of those was not released to the public until 1979.
We did have some toys when I was growing up, but nothing like the “toys” that my 14-year-old nephew has. A lot of our toys and games were made up from our imaginations, but we still had fun nonetheless.
There were no conveniences such as a microwave, dishwasher, or automatic washing machine and dryer for us to use. If we wanted to cook something we used the stove and the oven. Dishes were washed by hand in the kitchen sink and then dried by hand and placed back in the cupboards. We had an old ringer style washing machine for washing our clothes and after they were washed my mother would hang them on the clothes line to dry.
In school we did not have things like an IPad, notebook computer, or calculator to use. Instead we had such things as paper, pencils, rulers, and slide rules. We could not push a few buttons to get the answers to test questions. We had to learn the material that was taught, and at test time, we had to use our memories to help us answer the questions correctly. We did not have cell phones in those days, so our teachers never had to worry about us sending text messages to each other during class. Our “texting” consisted of passing notes to each other. If we were caught our teacher would not just confiscate the note like a teacher would confiscate a cell phone today, but we were made to stand up and read the note to the entire class.
Today’s generation would probably think to themselves that they are glad they didn’t have to live the way that we did back then. However, in retrospect those days were not so bad. Life seemed to be much simpler then. We did not live in a perfect world, but at least the world that we lived in did not seem to be spinning out of control like the world is today.
In today’s society young people seem to have no respect for their parents, teachers, peers, or even themselves. Simple words like “Please” and “Thank You” appear to be nonexistent in their vocabularies, where in the days of yesteryear, some of the first words we learned to say were “Yes Sir” and “No Sir”, “Yes Ma’am”, and “No Ma’am”, “Please”, and “Thank You”. We were taught respect in the home, and if we were disrespectful at school, not only would our teachers and school principal discipline us, but our parents were notified immediately, and once we got home our parents disciplined us again. That same concept worked throughout the neighborhood. If you were at a neighbor’s house and you started misbehaving or were disrespectful, you would get disciplined at that neighbor’s house, taken home by that neighbor who then reported to your parents what you had done, and then your parents would discipline you again.
Perhaps those were the best of times. Maybe in some ways those were the worst of times. Nevertheless, Mom and Dad were there and our family was close around us, and there are times, even now, when I wish those days would come back again. In my humble opinion, those were the days!