Friday, December 7, 2018

Life In The Old School Lane: Things Our Grandkids Will Never Know

     When I remind my kids that my generation grew up without microwaves, cell phones or cable TV, they pretty much envision me being raised by a pack of wolves in the forest. They have no idea what it is to WAIT for things, because instant gratification is the name of the game nowadays. Sure, I enjoy the convenience of text messaging, Netflix and Uber Eats, but there is something to be said about the good ol' days when anticipation led to a deeper level of appreciation.

     Millennials are probably relieved to have missed out on many of the things that we once considered a convenience, just as our Baby Boomer generation is thrilled that we grew up with modern washing machines and didn't have to scrub our clothes on a board like our grandparents did. Or do our business in an outhouse at 3:00 in the morning!

     If my future grandchildren ever want to know what life was like in the 60's, 70's or early 80's, they'll have to go to a museum just to see how it felt to dial a rotary phone, write in cursive, wind a clock or adjust the rabbit ears on a sketchy black and white television set.

     I'm guilty of digging my heels in when it comes to modern technology. I was the last person in my family to own a cell phone, and I completely resisted the idea of buying a home computer until it was obvious that my kids needed one for school. More importantly, I didn't take kindly to comparisons of our family living in the Dark Ages, or that our level of technological communication was on par with early cave drawings.

     Life without my cell phone or my trusty laptop is unimaginable now. When the power goes out and the Wifi is down, I feel as if I've been cut off from civilization, stranded on an island with two tin cans and a string for communication.

     A quick trip down memory lane serves as a perfect reminder of what will forever be lost on future generations:

*The thrill of renting a VCR tape from Block Buster to see the latest movie release (which was usually six months past by the time it was available). God forbid if you returned the tape late or---the horrors---you forgot to rewind it!

*The joy of receiving a 10 page, handwritten letter in the mail from a friend (Emails lack that personal touch). I really treasured those long letters and anxiously waited by the mailbox when I heard the postman's truck down the street.

* Flipping cards in a Rolodex to find a phone number. I also kept a small address book that contained every phone number I would ever need in my purse. This was accompanied by a pocket calendar and a notepad.

*Airplanes had wider seats, served full meals at no cost, and your baggage amount was unlimited, free of charge. I know this because I traveled frequently and carried enough luggage on my trips to open up a clothing boutique.

*Using cassette tapes to record our favorite songs off of the radio. This enabled us to pop our favorite tunes into the car stereo system for road trips. A few diehards stubbornly stuck to their 8 track tapes, but I loved my cassettes and kept dozens of them in a large carrying case the I dragged with me on every trip.

*MTV was actual non-stop music videos, not freakish reality shows featuring Botoxed women sipping champagne and complaining about their sugar daddies.

*Passing private notes that were folded into paper footballs across the aisles in both junior high and high school. Of course, there was always the risk of getting caught by the teacher, but it was a helluva lot more fun than texting.

*The sheer anticipation of waiting for your camera film to be developed at the Photo Mart Kiosk. It usually took 5-7 days to process, but if you were super anxious, you could pay extra and have those glossy prints in your hot little hands within 24 hours.

*Full service gas stations were THE BEST convenience. You never had to leave your car to use the pump or swipe your credit card. A nice man with his name stitched across the front pocket of his shirt came out to fill your tank, wash your windows and check your oil while you waited. If you had car troubles, the garage for repairs was right there. No mini grocery stores, though. If you were hungry or thirsty, you had one vending machine for sodas and one for candy bars and chips.

*Research of any type was time consuming. If your folks didn't own a set of World Books or the Encyclopedia Britannica, you had to trudge to the local library and spend hours searching through the card catalog or scanning microfiche film to find the information you were looking for. Siri and Google have made this practice pretty much extinct, THANK YOU JESUS.

*Road trips were quite the adventure in cars that didn't come equipped with GPS systems, electric windows or even seatbelts. This was great when I was kid, because my siblings and I could crawl to the back of the station wagon and build a fort with suitcases while Mom and Dad argued over the directions on a road atlas.

*No television remote controls, so we got our daily exercise by getting up from the couch numerous times to switch the dial around the only three channels available. You could lose five pounds in a day if you changed it often enough.

*Phones were attached to the wall and placed strategically in busy areas of the house so that everyone in the family knew your business. If you were lucky, the phone had a long, curly cord that could be dragged into the bathroom for private conversations.

*Automatic ice makers were not part of the freezer. If you wanted ice, you bought several metal ice trays, filled them with water and waited several hours before being able to chill your drinks. Something that could be heard nightly in every house in America: "WHO LEFT THE ICE TRAY IN THE FREEZER WITH ONLY ONE CUBE LEFT?"

     Our generation survived just fine without ATMs, Alexa, water purifiers, craft beer and Starbucks. The list goes on and on, and although I'm incredibly grateful for my espresso machine and Bullet blender, I still prefer a handwritten letter and a bowl of popcorn that was popped on the stove, not in a microwave.

     Now if you'll excuse me, someone is calling me on my princess rotary phone and I can't miss the next episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show.

***WANT MORE MENO MAMA? You can catch me this week on The Sisters' Hood with my humor post on The 10 Commandments of Middle Age.


  1. OK.I'll show my age- cassette tapes? MTV? They were my daughter's new toys! I still have my VCR (three, to be precise) and 16 2/3 as well as 33 rpm RECORDS!!!!

  2. On my Gosh. How did we make it? Yet, every one of your examples brought back warm and fuzzy memories. I am grateful that my daughter and her hubby both appreciate the 'old school' ways and are raising their kids to work hard without expecting instant gratification which seems to have been lost in many millennial schools of thought

  3. Yes, I agree with all of these! I have many fond memories of waiting to see how my photos turned out. I printed them, and put the best in albums, which I still have. I think in some ways it was a better system. There are simply too many photos these days, and they are all locked up in devices. I do love GPS because I am a mess without it. The loss of patience associated with no waiting time is, I think, harmful to all of us. I think we are developing situation ADD, and we are yet to fully understand the impact this will have on us. Meanwhile, I still have my 80s mix tape:)

  4. Letters. Long, personal, juicy letters crafted through tears and laughter. A sharing that was so hearbreakingly personal.

  5. Fantastic recap of growing up in the 70's, Marcia! The phones were so painful. And someone was always on it causing the busy signal to be a constant. When it rang at dinner time, my father used to pick it up and hang it up without checking who it was that was even calling. He had zero tolerance for teenage boys dialing in LOL. Our kids have had it easy!! :P And now to think Millenials want to live a 'slow' lifestyle because it's novel to them. In other words, they want to live like we had to, without the instant communication, gratification etc. What a laugh. One day in and they will surely give it up for their iphones and laptops.

    1. Absolutely. I cannot see them surviving at all that way, LOL.

  6. I miss MTV, that was the best, nonstop music videos. Now it's all kids having babies. What's wrong with this generation. SMH.

    1. Right?? Yes, I was totally addicted to watching the music videos on MTV!

    2. Sadly I remember recording songs off the radio onto a cassette and old rotary phones and looking stuff up in encyclopedias for school assignments

  7. Your article reminds me of my childhood and I miss our childhood very much.
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  8. Hilarious! I enjoyed your trip down memory lane and find myself thinking about the way things used to be all the time. Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, Bonnie Bell Lip Gloss, Clogs and Dr. Scholls (why did I wear those painful wooden shoes???), Friday nights at the Roller Rink with the disco lights where the skates had four wheels not in a line,the smell of my sister's "incense". Ahhh....the good old days!! =)

    Merry Christmas and have a Happy Safe New Year!!


  9. I always find your blog very interesting. Thanks for the share.



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