My parents were born into families that didn’t own an automobile. My dad was just 4 when his father suddenly died. His most vivid remembrance of his dad’s passing was getting to ride in a car for the first time.
They were also born when rural electricity was a futuristic thought, as was running water.
Neither of my parents was born in a hospital. My dad was born before the first radio station began broadcasting and mother’s family was so poor, they couldn’t afford one.
I doubt my grandchildren will ask me about running water and outdoor toilets. That seems so far away, although it was just a generation before me.
The thing they may ask about is how I watched video as a kid. They will have a hard time understanding TV with just three channels, some of which were snowy. Snowy TV will be a historical thing because digital signals don’t generate snow.
I don’t know if mail, as we know it, will still be around a generation from now. It may all be electronic by then.
They won’t understand a few professions, like a telephone man, a milkman or a gas station attendant.
I remember moving out on my own and the telephone man came to my apartment. I picked a yellow touchtone phone and thought it was so much cooler than the black rotary dial phone we had at my parent’s house.
The telephone man brought it to the apartment in a box and proceeded to make it work. The phone company, which is now a multimedia conglomerate, hasn’t sent an installer with a phone to a house in 25 years. Phones are purchased at the store.
I remember when we lived in Atlanta and Mathis Dairy delivered milk in the predawn hours.
The truck did not have refrigeration, but there was a huge container of ice in the back and the milk was iced down. We left empty glass bottles on the front doorstep and the milk almost magically appeared overnight. I am a dinosaur, but there was nothing that tasted like fresh milk from a glass bottle.
And how do we explain that a man in a uniform came out and pumped our gasoline for us and we only paid 30 cents a gallon. There is something ironic about paying 12 times that amount and having to do it ourselves.
Oh yes, that same guy would check our oil and tires and clean our windshield.
Speaking of that television, it used to be a piece of furniture. I remember oohing and ahhing over someone winning a console color TV on a game show. It was a heavy, sturdy piece that required two strong men to carry. And that color. Try explaining to a kid why everything in Mayberry is black and white.
We will also have to explain some rather strange occurrences, like why someone made appliances in colors like avocado or coppertone. There are bizarre things like shag carpet, mood rings and leisure suits that almost defy a reasonable explanation.
My grandfather only had running water and a phone the last couple of years of his life. I thought he was a great pioneer.
I hope my grandkids don’t think that of me because I only have 300 channels of cable and still own a microwave oven.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.