Thursday, March 8, 2007


I just read aloud part of a Beverly Cleary book to a class in the library and, in the first chapter, Henry Huggins makes a call home on a pay phone for a nickel. I stopped to discuss this, thinking it would be interesting for them to know how old this book was, that you could make a phone call for a nickel. Then, I realized. Most of them don't even know what a pay phone is. They use cell phones. When I told them cell phones hadn't even been invented when this book was written, they were amazed.

I remember pay phones, don't you? I still see them every now and then, but they are going the way of the dodo. Everyone has a cell phone. I remember in the mall they used to have a round kiosk that had a bunch of pay phones on it. If you had to call home, you used a pay phone. Soon, kids won't even have any idea what a pay phone was. We'll be hobbling around with our canes, telling stories about making calls on pay phones while they surreptitiously roll their eyes at us.

I can literally feel the winds of change moving my dyed hair. I remember our first cell phone. Have you seen A Night at the Roxbury? Yeah, our first cell phone was kinda like that. It was light gray and as heavy as a baby hippo. But we thought we had really arrived in the 20th century!

And what about VCR's? Our first one was huge, unwieldy and cost about $800. We had to PAY A MONTHLY MEMBERSHIP fee to rent movies at the video store. And, of course, they didn't have any good movies. At least we didn't buy a Beta machine. I bet there are still some of those sitting in attics and garages, covered with a layer of dust, right next to the Atari game machines. Now, our movies are on a disk as thin as a dime that arrives in our mailbox in a red envelope from Netflix.

Computers. Right after we saw Wargames, starring a geeky Matthew Broderick, we went out and bought our first Apple IIe. It had green letters on a black screen and graphics and sound were something that had not even been imagined. The Internet? What was that? Something the government and colleges were using. If only we had seen the future and invested in Yahoo. Or Ebay. Or some online porn. Just kidding.

Don't mock me. I am so serious. Give me a thumbs up if you had a Pong game. Oh, yeah, the first video machine. You hooked it to your tv and could bounce a ball back and forth. That was pretty much it. Wow. We were actually impressed.

We had to hold our first video camera with both hands. It was roughly the size of a baby stegosaurus. If it fell on your foot, that foot would have to be amputated. The still camera we used to take pictures of both our infants was also big (all the old technology was HUGE. Now everything is the size of a chiclet.) and , incredible as it sounds, we had to TAKE OUT the roll of film and take it to the drugstore to be developed.

Let's go even further back. We didn't have cable tv. We didn't have a remote for our tv. We had to GET UP AND CHANGE THE CHANNEL. Our tv was actually a big piece of wooden furniture with a small screen embedded in it.

I remember one time when we had a party and Tom made a mix tape to play on our Reel to Reel machine. We didn't want to have to keep putting albums on the record player.

But, we have adapted. We have tiny cell phones. We have DVD players and even DVR. We both are seriously computer literate. We even have jobs where we use computers constantly. Game machines? You name it, we got it. Our digital video camera and still digital camera fit in the palm of our hand. And we can record and listen to music on our I-Pods. We love technology. We think it's fun, convenient, and brings us closer together in many ways. We think it's fine that we are in the now instead of the back then.
But you know what's really important?
The family that we can share all this stuff with. What good is email if you have nobody to send it to? I would trade every techie device in the world for time with each and every one of them. In a New York minute.


Nikky said...

After the day I've had, I too would give up just about anything to have my loved ones near. No, not "just about anything"... ANYTHING.
No amount of technology can replace my husband's arms around me.

kevin said...

Do you remember the flap flap flap sound made by the projector in class when the teacher was done showing a movie? Ah, those were the days.