Sometimes, when I gripe about slow computers or cellphones that don’t do what they are supposed to do, I think about how far we have come in my lifetime.
There are times when I cannot find the remote control for the TV (admit it, you lose it, too). When I was a kid, I was a remote control. My parents would dispatch me over to change the channel and adjust the rabbit ears to make the reception better.
Oh, if you must ask, rabbit ears are a type of television antenna that contains two telescoping metal rods. They resembled the ears of a bunny. Well, sort of.
I learned to type on a manual typewriter. We timed our classroom typing to a recording of “The Typewriter” by Leroy Anderson. If you’ve never heard or seen it, search for it on the Internet and enjoy.
I can remember when business classes included instruction in shorthand, a secretarial code written in a stenographer’s notebook.
Our most recent flirtations with Old Man Winter reminded me of how far we have come in other areas.
We have a good number of people who remember the arrival of electricity to rural areas. It changed the face of rural Georgia forever. I remember when a home having central heat and air conditioning was a rarity.
My parents installed two furnaces to heat our Social Circle home. We were warm for a month and then my mama got the bill. We were cold for the next 20 winters.
I bought my parents their first refrigerator with an automatic icemaker. I don’t think they ever liked it. The next refrigerator had ice in the door and never really worked. Mama was content to fill up plastic ice trays.
I spent the night recently with some friends in South Georgia. Their home is the family home of the woman in the house. She was getting ready for a birthday and told me that she was born in what is now the guest room. Yes, we still have many people out there who were not born in a hospital, but that number is also declining.
In the lifetime of some of our children or grandchildren, we will say goodbye to people who had a party-line phone, remember only black-and-white TV, rode on a school bus driven by a classmate and were happy to do the chores around the home and farm because they were fun.
We also have made great strides in medical care. I remember when a neighbor had a massive heart attack and just slowly wilted away in death. My late Uncle Harry had one of the first bypass operations on his heart and lived to be almost 90. We have made great strides in treating cancer and replacing things such as knees and hips that have worn out.
But my mama was convinced baby aspirin and Vick’s salve could cure pretty much anything. Beyond that, the doctor could give you a little envelope of those white pills that were good for anything else.
Yes, we have come a long way. But speaking as one who has seen a lot of change, it sure is fun to look back every now and then.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.