Over the weekend I was fighting a summer cold. It was hard just to get up and go to work, let alone get much else done. My column (Movie Bad Girl of the Week) didn’t see the light of day this week because I could not focus to write with all the cold medication going on here at home. It got me thinking that in my 20’s the cold would have been a mild nuisance. Now it has knocked me on my butt. Then (and I swore this would never happen to me) I actually heard myself saying to a friend’s child (with horror in my mind begging the words to stop) “When I was your age….” How did this happen? Getting older was not in the game plan. In my teens I had made myself a promise that I would always be young. This got me thinking, thinking about how much I have seen in my 46 years of life. And you know what? It is pretty amazing. Now take my hand as I walk down memory lane with you. So much has changed since my youth. How many of these things do you remember? If you are still fairly young (this is especially for you) just listen as I tell you about a different time that wasn’t really so long ago…..when I was your age:
We had a telephone…one, only one. It was in the hallway and it had a 2 foot cord. You could not walk through-out the house with it. If you wanted to talk you had to stand in the hallway to use it. It had a rotary dial. It did not remember phone numbers for you. You either had to remember the number you wanted to call in your mind or look it up in a phone book for yourself. It did not have push buttons, you could not watch movies on it nor did it have internet access (the internet did not exist) You had three color choices for the phone: black, white or for the daring it was available in beige. Ours was black. We had a party line and although that sounds like fun it was not. Party line meant you shared the phone line with neighbors who could listen in on your calls if they desired or in the case with ours, the teenage girl across the street was on the damn phone morning, noon and night and you always had to ask her could you please use the phone. Imagine, having to ask a 15 year old girl if you could please use your own phone. Talk about power.
We had a television, one, in the living room. It was in color but did not have a remote.You had to walk over to it to turn it on and off. You also had to walk over to it to change the channel.It did not have cable. There were no VCR, DVD or Blu-Ray players. It got CBS, NBC, ABC, WTOG and PBS. That was all it got and if the President of the United States came on to address the nation your television viewing for the night was screwed. As a child I would practically cry when the President came on because he was on every channel.
“The Wizard of Oz” was a very special treat. For you kids out there brace yourselves: It came on only one time a year. With the advent of cable and video it is available to watch at you leisure. I did not have that luxury. It was shown once and only once per year. I would get so excited when the ads started running on CBS that it was time once again for that magical movie. I also was especially behaved during this time because if I got punished and missed it that meant waiting another year to see it.
Going to movies was a special treat. Again, there was no cable or satellite, nor VCR, DVD, Blu-Ray or Netflix. If you wanted to see a movie other than the ones aired on television you had to go to a theater to see them. Because of this, unlike many kids today, we were very quite, well-behaved and watched the movies with rapt attention. I go in theaters now and could climb the walls because people are talking during the feature or using their phones. People I did not pay 10 dollars to listen to you. Put the phones away and shut the hell up….just saying. Some of the movies I got to see in theater that were brand new were, “The Exorcist” (which at the time was the most horrific film ever made) “Jaws” (which back in the day scared the hell our of people and made them afraid to go in the water) and “Star Wars” (which had the best special effects, at least in 1977, ever). We also went to see double features at Drive-In theaters which are all but extinct now. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it is an outdoor theater and you sat in your car to watch the movie. You also got the sound by attaching special speakers to your car window.
The first video game was called “PONG”. The concept was a simple one. You had two digital paddles and a small dot that represented the ping pong ball. You would manipulate the paddles up and down with a dial. The ball moved so slow that I believe you could hit it to your opponent, go make a ham sandwich, sit down and eat it, wash the plate and get back just as the ball was returning to your paddle. This is of course an exaggeration. Now in video games you can fly a tactical war plane into a city and blow up zombies in graphic detail. Games have come a long way but now they confuse the hell out of me. Give me Ms.Pac-Man or pinball any day of the week.
We use to go outside to play and by that I mean play. We did not have a Game Boy, phones or Ipod. We had to use our imaginations. We would play things like kick-ball or ride our bikes or create our own games. We got plenty of fresh air and sunshine. we spent time at friends houses. We had sleepovers and would stay up to watch the 11:00 horror movie on Friday night on WTOG which was something like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956) and we would scare ourselves silly hiding under the blankets while we watched. These days it seems like kids have gotten numb to things like this because on television you can now see movies that are so gruesome and graphically violent. Most kids today would get bored with “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Like I said, times have changed.
When we went to restaurants it was also a special treat. Most meals were cooked and eaten at home. As kids we behaved in the restaurant and we talked with one another while we ate. We did not run up and down screaming like banshees and we were not texting, checking in or on Facebook (cell phones did not exist yet) I got very sad one day because I was in a restaurant and kids were indeed misbehaving badly while the parents issued idle threats (as a child I would be made to go sit in the car while everyone ate and would get my little ass whipped when I got home, although in this day and age a parent would get arrested putting a child in the car alone) and everyone else in the room seemed to be on the phone, texting or on their laptops. The place was devoid of conversations. When did we, as society, become so detached from one another?
Sunday was family day which meant the whole family. We would go to church dressed in our best clothes and might stop and have breakfast after church. Then a huge Sunday dinner would be prepared and we would sit at the table as a family (sometimes with guests) and enjoy that meal together. We did not watch TV while we ate that meal. We talked, we laughed and we smiled…we also ate too much every time. We would spend the afternoon relaxing or visiting and we would watch TV together as a family on Sunday night. If I had my choice it was “The Wonderful World of Disney.”
I have shared enough memories for now. I do not want to be that person that keeps going on and on. As I said I realize that I am getting older but I have wonderful memories and have seen so much change in the world. I, at times, wish for those simpler days of my youth. I have loved every age I have been and plan to love every age I am going to be. This broad is getting old but you know what? I don’t mind. Life has been a full, rich tapestry with good times and bad, happy and sad moments and lots of experiences. Each and every one of these things helped make me the person I am today. I might, at times, sound a little jaded or bitter as a couple of the following statements will illustrate. (I am only human after all) I feel we need to talk more not text, we need to listen, pay attention and respond in kind with each other. Kids need to use their imaginations more and their Game Boys less . Kids need to be taught to respect ( and most kids are) adults and each other and in return they deserve our respect and most of all we need to love one another. Yep I am getting older……but if you ever see me on stage you’ll know that I have a wild side too and an attitude that will always be young no matter what my age.