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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Modern Conveniences

As I observe people walking around with cell phones held to their ear I reflect back on a time before cell phones.  When I was a child we didn't even have a phone of any kind  but that was okay as we didn't have anyone to call anyway.  When we finally had a phone installed it was on a party line that multiple people used.  That meant if you picked up the receiver to make a call  and someone else was using the phone on your party line you had to wait for them to finish.  People back then were respectful and courteous and if they would hear someone else pick up they usually cut their conversation short.  Hmmm, wonder how that would work today with cell phones?  We had those who would pick up and listen to your conversation but there was nothing you could do about that.  You knew the call was for you depending on the rings the phone made.  For example two long rings, a short ring, and another long ring would be for you and therefore you would answer.  Other combinations of rings would be for others on your party line so you would ignore the call.

Then there were areas that when you would pick up your phone all calls would go through an operator.  You would tell the operator the number and they would connect you to your party.  Phone numbers were part word and part numbers.   Like our number was Ivanhoe 55512.  So I marvel each time I can use our cell phone and the technology that went into making it. The old phones were usually centrally located in the house so every family member heard every word you said.  Now you can stand in the middle of a market and everyone can hear your end of the conversation.

Then I think of the other things that have evolved.  Like being able to PVR television shows to watch at a later time.  I remember being around 10 years old when my dad came up the walk carrying this large box looking thing and I asked what it was.  I was told it was a television.  He plugged it in and attached these rabbit ears to it and there was a moving picture.  Back then TV was only one local channel that was grainy at best and it was only on from 8:30 AM until 7:00 PM each day.  I recall getting up the next morning and watching test pattern for about an hour before programming started. Anyone that will watch test pattern sure has to be amazed with 24 hours of TV and more channels than you could watch on a given day.

Now we take steam irons for granted like TV and cell phones.  We had a flat iron that was electric but didn't have any features except on and off.  When I would iron my school clothes if I wanted the wrinkles out of them you would use a RC Cola bottle with water and  a sprinkler head to get the clothes damp and iron the wrinkles out.  You could pick up a sprinkler head at any hardware for a few cents.  I recall when I first saw a steam iron and thought what a great idea that was - no more RC Cola bottle filled with water.

Or when I drive one of our vehicles that has all the computer components that tell you when your blinker is left on to long.  When I first started to drive we used arm signals out the drivers window.  The headlight dimmer was on the floor next to the clutch and you used it with your foot.  Windows were cranked up and down with a handle.  Windshield washers were not put on cars yet. You could work on your car yourself instead of having an electrical engineers degree. Now when I look at an engine I have no idea what I'm looking at.

So we have sure come a long way.  Times when you came in from playing when the street lights came on.  When neighborhoods raised a child.  You couldn't get away with anything unless one of the neighbors would see you and report you to your parents. Then the neighbors were always right and you weren't.  While the good old days were really pretty good and people interacted and respected each other. They talked to each other face to face instead of with a cell phone to your ear.  I marvel at what we have now and how people take it all for granted.  If you haven't seen the evolution you really can't appreciate all the advances we have today unless some old timer tells you about how it was and even then you probably wouldn't believe it.


Carol said...

the first telephone number I remember is 68-2602.

Pat said...

I remember all of this, and some of the new stuff makes me question “progress…” Oh, and I also remember Wilna 716J4 – four short rings…

Ron and Thelma said...

We had a 6 party line and had a lady who always listened in on your conversation.Ours was long short long on 35.They had numbers for the different lines. I remember too much of that stuff. Must be old.

Anonymous said...

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Bruce said...

No, this is the only site.