If you were born in 1947 and lived in Southcentral Pennsylvania (or probably anywhere else in the U.S.,) before first grade you likely had a telephone number with three digits and one letter, like 614-J. I remember picking up the receiver of our bulky black phone in our living room and hearing an operator say, “Number please.” By fourth grade you probably had a seven-digit number that started with two letters, like CO(lony)4-5789, and a party line. I recall my dad often being irritated with a woman up the street who seemed to be yakking about her garden every time he wanted to use the phone. By high school, party lines were pretty much passé but answering machines and call waiting were unimaginable. We were limited by the length of the cord on the phone, in my case, in the kitchen.
How anyone managed to connect without cell phones is beyond comprehension now … but we didn’t know the difference.
High school memories include dashing downstairs at the first ring, fearful of missing a call. And phoning a close friend and holding my transistor radio to the mouthpiece when our favorite song, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” was playing. That’s still my favorite song and sometimes I still call her when I hear it. (Play the song.) http://youtu.be/AdDnqSFYXFs Yesterday, I called her from the wall phone in my kitchen in Florida—nearly 50 years and more than 800 miles from high school. It’s rarely used, but yes, I still have a land line—just in case. I felt inhibited, not being able to walk around and do laundry or whatever the two hours we chatted.
Definitely, the Class of 1965 preceded the digital age. But not by so much that we weren’t soon dragged into it by our careers and life itself. Therefore, some of us are techies, some are struggling, some have our heads in the sand and others are holding our own and hanging on.
And holding out.
I still like a clock with hands to cook, use the same clock radio alarm I bought in the early ‘80s and can’t part with my turntable, even though I haven’t play an LP in years and doubt that it works. Just within the past three years I succumbed to getting a flat screen TV after guests at my Super Bowl party playfully tossed dollar bills on my kitchen table toward the purchase as they left.
On a recent weekend visit when our hostess popped a casserole in the oven and used an analog clock to determine the baking time, I totally got it. It’s so much easier to see where the big hand is than to do arithmetic, we agreed.
Not that I’m a complete slouch when it comes to technology. Learning how to build newspaper pages on deadline using QuarkXPress attests to that. Still, my android phone is only as smart as the nearest Metro PCS store where I frequently pop in to ask such questions as, “What is this feature?” and “How does that app work?”
My technology savvy was challenged last month when my 14- and 12-year-old grandchildren visited from Pennsylvania and took their first surfing lessons, a memorable event that begged to be documented … especially since both stood up on their first waves.
I forsook using my trusty camera when my granddaughter showed me how to toggle between taking videos and photos on her iPad. Despite the sun glare that confounds me on any electronic device on the beach, I was confident I had it. For 90 minutes I stood in the shallow surf shooting their rides and falls, peeking around and over the screen because all I could see in it was my own reflection—from the sun, I thought.
“Granni, you took every picture of yourself,” my granddaughter informed me on the ride home, explaining the camera’s flip feature, which I had no idea existed.
Coincidentally, also last month, selfie, meaning to take a picture of oneself typically with a smartphone or webcam for social media, made it into Oxford Dictionary.
“It’s OK,” she said sweetly, sensing my devastation. “It’s not OK. You wanted those pictures on Facebook 10 minutes ago,” I told her, sensing her disappointment.