Today is my 54th birthday! Upon reflection of the last 54 years, I can’t help but think about how times have changed. Indulge me while I ponder.
Growing up in the country in Ohio, I fondly remember camping out in the back yard with my brother and neighbors. No tent needed, we used blankets and poles to make our tents. We made camp fires in the back yard, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, on the same stick. I’m sure there’s some health code violation about that now. We did this for many summers, until the night the neighbor kid somehow managed to fling fire onto our “tent” and burn it down. This memory sticks in my brain, not for the fire, but for how another neighbor came running to put the fire out with a screwdriver. Not sure how Craftsman was going to extinguish the fire!
I remember our dad bringing home mini-bikes for us to ride around in the vacant lot next door. These were smaller motorcycles for kids. No helmets, just lots of fun. We’d ride them until we ran out of gas, or it got dark, whichever came first. And speaking of helmets, my brother and I used to ride our bicycles to the nearest town to get hot fudge sundaes. Our road was a two-lane state highway, with a 55 mph speed limit. But we rode anyway, and no one even knew what a bike helmet was. We survived. If you’ve read my blog in the past you know that my husband and I are avid cyclists, and we wouldn’t dream of riding our bikes without helmets today.
Some of my fondest memories growing up were the many baseball games we had in the vacant field. We had enough kids in our neighborhood to have two teams. We’d play until we couldn’t see the ball anymore. Then we’d move to the cornfield behind our house and play tag. We loved running through the cornfield. If we didn’t have enough for baseball, we’d play foursquare on our driveway. We had tournaments and all. Mom or dad would turn on the outside lights so we could see.
I remember our phone being attached to the wall! Unheard of now, but we also had a party line with eight other families. If you wanted to make a call, you had to wait for the neighbor to hang up. This was ok, until the night I broke up with my boyfriend over the phone. Unfortunately, the neighbor’s house caught fire, and my boyfriend wouldn’t hang up so we could call the fire department. He soon did, the fire department came, and the next day my dad switched us to a semi-private line!
Water bottles were unheard of back then. Everyone would take turns drinking from the hose. Yep, that’s right, the hose. And we all survived. It was a real treat when one of the moms would make a pitcher of Kool-Aid for all the kids to share. We didn’t have cases of bottled water or Gatorade in the garage. We also didn’t have seatbelts in cars, and I distinctly remember a rear-facing back seat in our station wagon. Of course, I could never use it because I would get car sick. To this day, I have to sit facing forward, even on the metro train, or risk getting sick.
Until they finally had garbage pickup at our house, I remember my dad bringing home an empty 55-gallon drum and putting it at the back of our property. That’s where we’d burn our garbage. Everyone did it. I also remember one of our neighbors deciding it would be a good idea to burn an old tire in his. Not such a good idea! It burned for days.
Sunscreen was an option, not mandatory for going out in the sun. The day of my aunt’s wedding, my neighbor and I decided to lay out for an hour covered in baby oil. Yep, I fried like a piece of bacon. My dress for the wedding was a long scratchy number. Not my best decision. The next day my legs swelled up, and one of my aunts said the best way to relieve a sunburn was to put vinegar on it. Again, not the best decision! Hurt like XXXX!
I remember my dad bringing home our first microwave. It was huge in size and event! The first thing we cooked was a frozen hamburger patty. We also didn’t have central air in our house. It was called opening windows and hoping for a breeze. Fans helped at night, but I don’t remember it being as hot during the summer as it is now. You can reach your own politically-charged conclusion as to why that is. I’m not going there.
There was no cable television. We had NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS. If we were lucky and the antenna was turned just right, we’d pick up other local channels. No remotes back then. If you wanted to change the channel, you had to get up and go to the tv and change it yourself. We had a CB radio in the house and a huge antenna on a tower attached to the house. The antenna would turn 360 degrees so we could talk to people all over. We used this in place of a phone to talk to our friends. I remember my dad getting us an Atari video game player. We thought we’d died and gone to heaven.
Wow, how times have changed! Technology has made things easier. For example, I’m typing this on my laptop on my rental condo balcony overlooking the ocean. I’m going to upload it to my blog and instantly send it over the wifi. Back in the day, I would have written an article for a newspaper, typed it on a manual typewriter, driven to the newspaper office, and used typesetting to get it in the paper.
And while technology has made things easier, sometimes I think about how much simpler life was back then. However, I will be the first to admit that I love being able to call long distance without worrying about the cost, text my children and friends, and type on a laptop instead of a typewriter. Most of all, I love facetiming with my grandson!
It’s not so much about the stuff, it’s about the memories. Enjoy your day!
Check out my novel, One Sweet Development, currently available on amazon.com.