My kids find it astonishing and a little hard to believe that there were no remote controls when I was a child. My sister and I WERE the remote controls. We were stationed on the floor close to the television set. When my Dad wanted to watch a different station all he had to do was bark an order and we hopped to it! We TURNED the big ol’ dial until we found another station without static. Then we had to stand up and adjust the bunny ear antenna until the picture was as clear as possible. Sometimes my Dad would order us to adjust the vertical hold or the color dials. He had high standards that technology just couldn’t satisfy at this point in time. Years later we got a TV with a remote control. I could finally sit on the couch and watch TV. Watching TV would never be the same again.
I remember our first microwave oven. It cost a small fortune and was the size of a Buick sitting on the kitchen counter. We all huddled around the little window to watch a cup of water boil. My mom turned the dial and it began to tick. We thought we were probably all destined to get cancer from the dangerous waves emitting from the futuristic box, but we didn’t care. We cheered and clapped at the miracle of boiling water in under 5 minutes! Dinner would never be the same again.
I remember when a video store came to our street. My dad thought the neighborhood was going to pot. I didn’t know what a video store was, I thought he meant an arcade was being put in. I thought it was cool to have an arcade right across the street from our elementary school. I had no idea what a video was. The family that owned the store had a daughter in my class. She invited all the girls over to watch a movie on this huge, top-loading, Beta eating machine attached to the TV set. We could rent a video player at the store. Very soon after it open, my Dad was one of the first customers to plunk down a deposit on a rental machine. That night we discovered the pleasure of watching a movie in our own house. Entertainment would never be the same again.
My Grandpa was the only one in the family who owned a home video recorder. It was reminescent of a Russian satellite. He would give the machine to me and my sister, telling us to go make something creative. We would dress up and lip sync to 80’s music to make our own music videos. We spent hours giggling as we interviewed each other like Barbara Walters-wanna-bes. Of course we had all the classic video camera tricks like recording ourselves in a mirror and sneaking up on people to record them when they were unaware. The whole family still lined up and posed for pictures with the video camera. It was like we couldn’t comprehend that we didn’t have to hold a smile anymore. Taking pictures and documenting family history would never be the same again.
My kids know very little about buying film or flash cubes, computers that can’t be carried around, phones attached to the wall, sending mail via the post office, pay phones, or life before credit cards and the Internet. As far as my kids are concerned, I grew up on a different planet. They just can’t comprehend life without technology. They think I’m being an ogre when I ground them from technology. It makes me wish the power would go out more often so we can light some candles and play board games as a family, just for fun.
Now I’m interested in your stories. Tell me about what you DIDN’T have as a child. Do you miss those days or are you happy with your smart phone?