I’ll turn 34 in a couple of weeks; I am a young woman. I was an infant during the last six months of the seventies. I’ve grown up in a high tech world.
Yet, thinking back on the ways in which the world has changed in the last 20 or so years boggles my mind. I remember life before microwaves and VCRs and child safety seats. I didn’t use a cell phone until after I graduated from college, and I didn’t purchase one until awhile after that.
Grace (who just turned 6) and Allie (2 1/2) have never lived in a home without central air, never ridden in a car without automatic windows. They’ve grown up with an iPhone, iPad, and laptop. They will never know a world without ebooks and Google and bicycle helmets, but make no mistake, there are plenty of things they’re missing out on.
1. Outhouses – When I was growing up, Grandma had an outhouse in the yard. It was leftover from the time when there was no indoor bathroom. (My mom’s bedroom was renovated into a bathroom when she moved out in the early 1970s).
The outhouse blew down during a tornado around 1990. Aside from tchotchkes in country stores, I haven’t seen another non-plastic outhouse in more than 20 years.
2. 8-track tapes – I’m going to share with you a trauma of my childhood. On Saturday mornings, when my mother thought we should be awake, she would play her old 8-track tapes of the Mamas and the Papas or John Denver at full volume. For my husband, the torture involved polka music. I thought 8-tracks were so old and strange back then. After all, we had cassettes, way smaller and way cooler than 8-tracks.
By the way, have you ever tried to explain a cassette tape to a 4-year-old who has only ever played music on an iPod or a computer? Try it sometime.
3. Black rotary phones – Old Grandma just got rid of hers, so it was technically in my daughter’s life for almost 5 years, but I doubt she’ll remember it as she grows older. We dial the phone on a touchscreen. I, for much of my life, had to wait for the dial to return to zero and actually stand next to the base while I was talking. I spent many hours winding a coiled phone cord around my fingers while talking to my girlfriends. For my daughter? The phone has never been connected to the wall.
Remember testing your cordless to see how far outside you could go before it lost signal? As far as Grace knows, the phone has no limits. It even works in other countries.
4. Old school TV set – My daughters will never see a console TV with buttons. Not buttons, like a remote control, but buttons like the twelve things on the front of the TV set that you had to press in order to change the channel. Of course, that was after you put down the TV Guide magazine that you received in the mail every week and stood up to actually walk across the room.
My parents only recently got rid of the giant wood-encased set that took up half of our living room. My tv (circa 2004) is huge and heavy, but some day soon, the switchover to flat screens will be complete, and my girls won’t remember anything else.
I remember a TV commercial from my childhood with a little boy working on a model airplane. His grandfather leaned over and said, “Did you know that some people have to pay for their television channels?” and the little boy was incredulous. I, too, couldn’t imagine paying to watch television.
Now? I know exactly one person who still uses a turn-it-in-the-right-direction-for-each-individual-channel old school antenna. Yes, it is Old Grandma.
5. Atari 2600 & Nintendo Entertainment System – Okay, so she’ll probably always have video games, but video games in my daughter’s world are interactive use-your-whole-body adventures with realistic, 3D graphics. Video games from my youth were the classics. Pong. Space invaders. Tetris. Super Mario Brothers. Dr. Mario. They were 2D at best, and the graphics were rough. They were games that we had to sit down to play. Games that used our thumbs and only our thumbs, and we were happy to have them.
6. The card catalog – When I was a kid, I looked up books at the library in a card catalog. It was called a card catalog because it was a very large collection of actual, paper cards upon which someone had written or typed each book’s information. My daughter searches for the entire county’s book database on a computer, from our house.
Let’s not talk about encyclopedias.
7. Tan M&Ms – Before there were blue M&Ms, there were tan ones. Not only do I remember the M&Ms with two shades of brown, I remember voting in the contest to determine whether blue, pink, or purple should be the new color. Blue wasn’t my choice.
It’s not just things, of course. She knows nothing of the Berlin Wall or September 11th or Y2K or OJ Simpson or Columbine – only the crazy ways they all changed our world.
What things do you remember from your childhood will your children never know?
© 2013 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.