Wrinkled Wisdom: Then and Now

Remember rotary phones?  Love the recent video of two teenagers attempting to figure out how to use one to make a call.  They flunked!    Heck, remember party lines?  They were less expensive than a private line and promoted as patriotic during World War II because they required less copper used for ammunition cartridges.  

Hard to fathom today that between two and 20 families were willing to share the same phone line.  You knew a call was for you because each family had a specific ring—a mix of short and long rings.  No answering service, of course.  Our grandparents had one.  It was not unusual to pick up their phone and hear a voice on the line.  It was soooo tempting to eavesdrop.  But that was a definite no-no. 

Today, we all have cell phones.  Do we miss the old days?  Don’t miss busy signals.  Don’t miss memorizing friends’ and family members’ telephone numbers.  Now, they are right there in our cell phone contacts.  That’s sure a plus as we age…unless our phones crash!!  Don’t miss faxing stuff.  And, pay phone booths?  The kids just look at them and say…huh??  And, speaking of kids, we’re ticked off at the rash of robocalls!  Aren’t these young techies smart enough to figure out how to stop them?  

Remember when “overexposure” simply described exposing a roll of old camera film to too much light?  We sure use that word in numerous, negative contexts today!  And, no more trotting to the drug store to have that film developed.  We all ecstatically graduated to the Polaroid camera, which could produce a finished print in under a minute.  Then, digital cameras were invented.  Now, everyone simply uses their cell phone.  Instant gratification!

Remember when car makes and models were distinct, unique?  Not today.  Can’t tell a Chevy from a Jaguar.  Okay, we can spot a Mini Cooper.  Loved those old 50’s tail fins.  And, two-toned station wagons.  Station wagons???  Yes, we understand that certain shapes and features provide the best aerodynamics, which is why most cars look the same.  We support car designs that are fuel efficient and good for the environment.  But, can’t we be ecofriendly and creative?

It was tough to adapt to wearing seat belts back in 1968.  Today, the safety features on new cars have escalated and the constant alerts are both confusing and frustrating.  Love the blind spot warning system and the backup camera.  But, most drivers say they are annoyed by nanny-tech like the lane-keeping and centering systems and disable many features.  

Remember when we returned our used, glass soda bottles to the grocery store for a refund?  They were expensive to produce.  Bottlers wanted them back.  Then things changed dramatically.  Disposable containers appeared with the words “no deposit; no return.”  Early environmentalists were worried about littering.  No kidding!  We’ve all seen the photos of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the turtle with a straw stuck in its nose, and the pounds of plastic trash in the stomachs of dead whales and dolphins.  But, no one ever expected that we would be inadvertently eating and inhaling gobs of microplastics today.  Guess the Food and Drug Administration needs to get with it and require companies to list plastics on food ingredient labels!  

Remember our dance moves?  Our parents thought the Twist was scandalous.  Then came the Locomotion, the Mashed Potato, the Watusi, the Monkey, and the Frug.  Sometimes, we even wow the kids and do the Jitterbug.  Remember the first televisions?  No color—just black and white.  Programming stopped shortly after midnight with the playing of the national anthem. And, oh, only three channels.  

Adolescent fiction is a big business today.  Think Harry Potter.  Remember the reading habits of our youth?  Nancy Drew for the girls and the Hardy Boys for the…well…boys.  That was about it!

Our wrinkled wisdom for today:  Feel smug that we oldies can’t be beat on the dance floor, even if we are huffing and puffing to make it through the entire song.  Feel smug that we have adjusted to the surge in technology during our lifetime.  Buy a new car while you are still able to learn all the new safety features…and turn off the annoying stuff.  Here’s a fun quiz.  What album did you own as a LP, tape, and CD, and now stream on Spotify?  Let us all know in the comment section.  Finally, plastic litter will outweigh fish in the ocean in a couple of decades.  Think about the grandkids eating/inhaling microplastics throughout their lives.  Let’s get plastics out of our lives!

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