Back in the day, before bagged salad and TVs the size of Shetland ponies but better behaved, we rolled up car windows by hand.
We turned down “air conditioning” by grabbing a crank. This built character, especially when the crank only worked with vice grips.
Or we’d crack open the vent window. That deflected outside air inside — and occasionally sucked in an angry bumblebee.
Now we set the temperature to 68. We hit a button to control the windows.
We also built character by walking uphill both ways nine miles to school in snow up to our ear holes. Of course, we were only 3 feet tall.
Back in the day, we had rotary phones and “let our fingers do the walking.” Each number was a workout. Dialing could take forever, especially if the number had 9s.
Most rotary phones were black and on a wall. Our rolodexes contained phone numbers of family, friends, co-workers, butcher, baker and candlestick maker. Even more numbers could be found in phone books that listed everyone’s address — except the few that were unlisted or in the witness protection program.
After a while, from repetition, we memorized dozens of phone numbers. Even today, five or more decades later, many of us are more likely to remember our number growing up than why we just walked to the refrigerator.
Today we program each new number into our smartphones — and fail to remember the phone number of even our spouse.
Most people today carry their phone everywhere. They are never “out of reach.” A few contrarians, however, irked at these intrusions, have said enough. We turn our phone off while driving, visiting the restroom or going to bed. “Your call is important to me,” we say on our answering machine, and think, “So is our sanity.”
Back in the day, we had yellow pages. We let our fingers do the walking until we walked off our fingerprints. There, you could find a plumber when the kitchen sink turned into a geyser.
Now these craftspeople are an Internet search away, but we wonder if the ones atop the search paid extra for the visibility.
Back in the day, for trips, we’d consult maps stored in the glove compartment of our vehicle. Unfolded, they also made a nice emergency blanket.
We built character by learning to fold the map. Many a wrestling match pitted man vs. map. Often, the map won by pin.
Now we have GPS, or Global Positioning System. A pleasant voice tells us “move to the left lane” and “turn now.” However, GPS has a sense of humor and has sent people on the road to Deliverance.
Stories are rampant of poor souls finding “shortcuts” through the Oregon and Washington coast range that are really logging roads buried in 10 feet of snow. Using GPS builds character, if you survive the trip.
Back in the day, we did not have 37 remote control devices lost in couch cubbyholes. Our black-and-white TV, with picture the size of a child’s lunch box, featured nobs, some of which required vice grips to change the TV from CBS to NBC or ABC. We stored vice grips in the car and by the TV.
Our parents considered us the remote control. They would tell us to turn the dial or adjust the rabbit ears or go on the roof and move the antennae to get reception. Sometimes, we’d just stay up on the roof for the whole show, especially if it was Mom’s favorite, since reception changed every time a cloud or jet passed overhead or if the humidity or wind speed fluctuated.
Back in the day, we had three channels rather than the 500 of today’s satellite dish. To change channels, we had to walk 10 feet through green shag carpet up to our ear holes.