I don’t think kids today have as much “imagination” as we did back in the day. Back then we HAD to dream stuff up because there wasn’t any other option.
Imagine, if you will, a world without Google, Facebook, so on and so forth. Our concept of Google involved the Dewey Decimal System which exactly NO kid on planet Earth these days has EVER heard of let alone interacted with. Facebook involved going to School and we tried to get the measles so we didn’t have to go there so you can see just how popular that was.
We had BIG dreams back then. We laid on the end of the dock, soaking in the sun and thought about what we were going to be when we grew up…or more correctly, what we were going to be IF Dad LET us grow up. There was a better then even chance that he’d kill us long before that, especially if we kept on getting the measles.
Kids today have it too easy. Touch a screen and information leaps to your fingertips. If that is too mundane then the screen will read it to you. If you wanted someone to read to you back when I was a kid, it involved finding an adult with that kind of time. They were busy off doing adult things like trying to put food on the table.
Now I’m not saying people are working hard or any of that here, I’m simply saying that today you’ve got all kinds of advantages. Heck, when I was a kid the folks in Putnam had TV, they were just waiting on electricity. That’s serious business right there.
Here’s the reality. We had NO cable TV. We got ONE channel and it was WCAX Channel 3 out of Burlington Vermont. It was a CBS station and it signed off at midnight after it played the National Anthem which we sometimes were allowed to stay up to watch on a weekend.
If you didn’t like the shows on Channel 3, your options were zilch, as in NO options. My neighbor, David King, had an antenna with a rotor on it and could get Channel 5 out of Plattsburgh. At my house, I was the rotor.
Our outdoor antenna was mounted on a rusty old pipe on the side of the driveway, stuck in a hole in the ground and it listed to port slightly. One could go outside with a set of vice grips, clamp onto said pipe, and await the instructions of the Father Unit who would thus issue voice commands letting you know when the picture was the least possible degree of fuzziness. Whew.
It was HARD living back in the stoned ages.
In all honesty, it was only in my later years that I realized that I was being used. It’s true. It would be raining out, Thunder and Lightening and all, and there I would be, outstanding in the field, turning this crappy old pipe until I heard “HOLD IT RIGHT THERE.” That’s when you knew you could go inside, dry off, have a seat on the floor, and enjoy watching whatever everybody else (meaning said father unit) wanted to watch.
I’m not at all sure my parents weren’t actually TRYING to get rid of me.
We had no need of a remote control, I also served that utilitarian purpose. Not to change the channels, but to turn the volume up or down, or, sometimes, to go thump the top of the TV if things went all fuzzy. Kids today don’t grasp the seriousness of thumping the television top on command….they just wouldn’t understand.
We didn’t have smart phones back then. Truth be told, we didn’t even have dumb phones. What we DID have, was my fathers phone. It was thing black looking thing that hung on the side of the kitchen cabinet. The earpiece (and conveniently) the mouthpiece were attached to the dialing box by a 312 foot long cord that was once 6′ long, but had been stretched to it’s now current length by about 15 years of my Mother wandering around the house in a bathrobe chatting with Aunt Dort or Aunt Peg.
We were not allowed to touch, let alone use, this phone.
If there was an actual emergency, which we understood to mean someone was in the process of or actually HAD died, we could dial the operator, tell them our name, rank and serial number, who our parents were and how they were related to said operator, beg for some assistance and then wait until she called wherever my Mother actually WAS at the moment to be sure that we had authorization to request help, and then we could kick back and wait until said help arrived.
This would usually be Doctor Vilardo himself, just as soon as he got done stitching up one of our friends who fell out of a tree somewhere and had been taken to the emergency room.
Today, kids get first aid. Back then, we were too poor for all of that, we had to make due with second aid. The emergency room was actually the doctors office and you went there only if you were dying or dragged by a concerned mother who realized that falling out of a tree and being unconscious was, in fact, something to be concerned about. People DID fall out of trees back then so it wasn’t unusual at all.
A trip to the “ER” always involved some kind of shot and it wasn’t for the flu. Worse, the dreaded paregoric (not sure of the spelling here), or some other “take home and administer” drug of choice. These were not pills, but rather some crap that you either had to drink, gargle or somehow otherwise put in your mouth.
If you had cramps you got it even worse. You got an enema.
I remember the Dog getting sick one time. Now in our day, you didn’t just rush right out to a Vet like we do today. In fact, FINDING a vet was a chore unto itself. However this one time, our dog “Pete” got really sick and my mother was concerned. When my mother was concerned about something, this meant that my father was concerned as well. As long as it wasn’t YOU that your mother was concerned about, I never got too concerned.
Anyway, Peter the dog was sick.
Yes, his name was Peter. My Sister Laurie named the dog so you’ll have to ask HER what was on her mind at the time, I had nothing whatsoever to do with that particular naming convention nor was that a subject I was concerned about. Then.
I know, this is getting drawn out, right? I knew it.
Well Dad, because Mom is concerned, takes Peter to the Dog Hospital. Imagine, if you will, that the ER for humans is an office downtown, so what do you suppose the animal hospital looked like?
A while later, Dad comes home with Peter the dog and Mom asks about the status of this dog that she is concerned about.
Dad’s reply shocked us all. “The dog is going to die” said my father.
Laurie and I looked at one another like this was the end of the world. My mother, probably more familiar with dogs and death asked for further information. Her tone made it clear that there WOULD be more to the story, and very promptly.
“The Vet said that Peter ate something he shouldn’t have and he’s going to die.” This from the supplier of further information, also known as Dad.
The FACT that Peter ate something he shouldn’t have wasn’t mysterious in and of itself. Peter lived his life in a doghouse out by the barn and was tethered to the swingset upon which we played, by a rope. OF COURSE he ate something he shouldn’t, he’s a dog and no one has even EXPLAINED to him what to eat and what not to eat.
Meanwhile, my mother was making some kind of hand gesture, which either meant give me the rest of the details or move a little bit closer so I can smack you upside of the head.
Finally, my father “gave it up.”
“The vet said to take the dog home and give him an enema or he’d die. Since I have NO plans give a dog an enema, the dog is going to die.”
This little story of mine has a “moral” to it, if you will. That moral is, that often times in your adult life, your plans change.
Imagine, if you will, the very PICTURE of my father, out in the back yard, giving Peter the dog, and enema.
Sometimes, you just have to flush one set of plans in exchange for a different set of plans, and often times, said plans change because your wife is concerned about something that you weren’t concerned about in the least.
If you have pen and paper handy, you might want to write that last part down.