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The "Over Fifty" crowd

Published May 25. 2013 09:02AM

Dear Editor:

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to death with their tedious tales about how hard things were in the old days; walking 25 miles to school every morning; uphill; barefoot BOTH ways, yadda, yadda, yadda. And I promised myself that when I grew up, there was NO way that I'd lay that kind of talk on my kids about how hard life was in my generation, and how easy they have it. But now, I'm over the hill and compared to my childhood, they live in virtual utopia!

When I was a kid, we didn't live in the technological world as your kids do. We didn't have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to look it up ourselves at the library, or use the encyclopedia. There was no email. We got our copy of the Weekly Reader once a week, on Friday at school. We didn't need a Kindle to read it. We had to write letters in order to communicate, pay money for a stamp (10 cents), and actually had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take about a week for the letter to get there.

There were no MP3s or iTunes. If you wanted to steal music, you'd have to hitch hike to the record store and shoplift it yourself. We listened to transistor radios (battery powered) and our parents listened to their big old Philco radios. We recorded off the radio onto our tape players, and the radio DJ would talk all the way through the beginning, and mess it up. There were no CD players in our cars. We'd play our favorite tapes and "eject" them, and when the tape was finished it would come undone and be useless, but that's how we rolled, baby.

We didn't have fancy phone service like caller ID. The mystery caller could have been your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, or your parole officer. You just didn't know who was on the other line. You just had to pick up the phone and take your changes, mister! There weren't any cell phones, either. When you left your house, you couldn't make or receive calls. OH MY GOD! Think of the horror of not being in touch with someone 24/7!

We didn't get to play fancy video games like X-Box and PlayStation 3 on high-definition, big screen TV. We played the Atari 2600 games; "Asteroids" and "Space Invaders." Your guy was a little square (really) and you actually had to use your imagination. Multiple screens and multiple levels didn't exist back then. There was one screen only, forever. And you could never win. The game just kept getting faster and faster and more difficult until you died! Just like life.

Then there was this little book you bought each week called the TV Guide; and you had to figure out what was on TV. You couldn't surf the channels with the remote. You had to get off your rear-end and walk over to the TV and change the channel; yourself; by hand! We didn't worry about who was dancing with the stars, making deals or no deals, and the only island survivors we worried about were Gilligan, the Skipper, and their gang. We didn't have Cartoon Network either. You could only get cartoons on the TV on Saturday morning. Did you hear that? Oh no; no electronics to sooth; and bring comfort to us. And ... if you came back inside you were going to do chores.

The term "Roll down the car windows had meaning in those days. If you were put in the back seat you hung onto the straps above the window. If you were lucky you'd get the "safety arm" across your chest when the car came to a sudden stop. If you were in the front and your head hit the dashboard. It was your fault for not calling "shot gun" in the first place!

Back then we spent time hanging out with friend without texting. Texting ... oh please! You kids just don't know how annoying your are. We weren't constantly taking pictures and showing them to everybody or calling everybody and getting 50 calls a day. We took pictures with Polaroid Instamatic cameras. And we didn't wear shirts that showed our bellies and we never dreamed that other body parts besides our ears would be pierced.

So you see, you kids really have it easy, and you're spoiled rotten. You wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in the 70s.

Faye Ruckhardt,


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