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Everything that’s old is new again, and then some
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

My grandson has a toy dial telephone that has wheels on it. He pulls it around and really likes it. He understands that the handset is for having a conversation.

I wonder if one day, he’ll ask me what the rest of the phone is used for.

Sometimes, I marvel at the technological advances that have occurred in my lifetime.

My first record player was an orange and white thing that would play only 78 and 45 rpm records. I actually had a few 78s.

It’s funny but I’ve lived long enough to see records replaced by 8-track and cassette tapes and CDs. Now, vinyl records are making a comeback.

I have a smartphone that will store an endless number of songs and I can either play them on earphones or through a wireless connection to my car.

In my collection of stuff, I have a Bakelite telephone that is heavy enough to hurt someone, if you dropped it.

I’ve seen hardwood floors covered up by wall-to-wall carpeting. Now, the hardwoods are in vogue again.

We now have more channels of cable TV than I can count. Again, I’ve seen over the air TV replaced by cable and now, many folks are going back to the old antenna. There are also sorts of companies seeking your TV business. They, too, have more channels than you can imagine.

When I look around the kitchen, I see all sorts of stuff. Like most families, we have a microwave oven. I remember the early ones, like the Amana Radarange, which was an awe-inspiring device in its early days. We have some kind of convection oven, which I really don’t know how to use. I’m still content with the old-school oven.

I was looking in the glove compartment of the car the other day and there was not a map to be found. We now get our driving directions from a GPS device, and even it makes mistakes. The other day, I was told to turn down a street. I went to the end of the street and the computer voice suggested I turn around. I wanted to ask it why it took me there in the first place.

I’m fascinated by the old stuff. There’s a part of me that would like to have a pre-1970s car that I could actually work on. Cars with computers are out of my league.

Things that you can take apart and “mess with” are wonderful. However, I have more things to mess with than time to do it.

There’s a part of me that hopes that my grand boy will be intrigued by things invented before he was born. He’s only a year-and-a-half old, so there is no shortage of stuff.

He may, like so many children of this day and time, have no interest in the way things used to be. He will grow up in a do-it-now, no-waiting world.

Even the stuff that is low-tech is expected overnight and if it doesn’t arrive, we want to know why. The excitement of waiting has gone out of style forever.

I hope that he is inquisitive and wants to know how things work and where they came from. I hope he wants to listen to his Pa’s long, never-ending, drawn-out stories.

I hope he’ll sit down and we’ll talk about it. I pray he doesn’t ask me to text it to him.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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