The other day I was talking with my daughter, and in the course of the conversation I mentioned that microwave ovens weren't around when we were growing up, that I didn't get my first microwave until after I was married. I used to work for a wholesaler, and microwaves cost about $1000 each.
I used to work for a wholesaler, and microwaves cost about $1000 each.
She was dumbstruck and that got me to thinking about all the changes that have taken place in my lifetime.
When I was 10 we got our first air conditioner, a room unit, and we got our first color TV - I thought we were rich. We used to think our friends were wimps because they couldn't play outside for very long because they couldn't take the heat - they had air conditioning in their whole house. Now I know what it's like to be conditioned to the A/C.
Pocket calculators used to cost a small fortune, even the basic ones, and now they're sold at the dollar store. When I was 18 or 19 my mom bought one of the first VCRs on the market, and we were in heaven. The tapes for those things cost $25 each, so for every birthday we'd give our friends one tape each, and they'd do the same for us. They were like gold.
Now VCR tapes are as cheap as calculators. I remember having to go to the data processing department where I worked. The computer took up an entire room, and the room temperature had to be kept cold. People working in that department wore heavy sweaters year round.
Back then it seemed extremely farfetched to think that we'd one day have desk top computers, and laptops and the internet were strictly in the sci-fi realm.
I remember when car phones came into existence, but they were large, clunky things that had to be wired into the car, and only the rich could afford them.
I never envisioned every kid in America owning a cell phone, let alone cell phones with cameras and text messaging.
It's possible that this generation growing up now has never seen an 8-track player or a phonograph; before long they won't even know what VCRs were.
These are just some of the gadgets I've seen go by the wayside, I haven't even touched on the real changes that have taken place in my lifetime, the wars, the politics, the way of life.
I've seen so many changes before I've hit 50, imagine what some of our older folks have been through.
My dad grew up in New Jersey in the late 1920s, early 1930s.
I like listening to the stories about his childhood because they're so vastly different from anything I ever experienced, and not just because he grew up with snow. Dad told me about one house they lived in that was kind of modern for the times.
When his mom needed gas to cook with, one of the kids would go down into the basement, insert a few coins in a gas meter-type thing, and they'd have enough gas for a month of cooking.
I can't even imagine having a basement, let alone having a coin-operated gas meter.
My friend, Carole, grew up on a plantation right here in St. Charles Parish. She's been writing stories about what it was like growing up here, and her stories absolutely fascinate me.
Carole's doing this for her grandchildren, so they'll know a little bit about the life she experienced, but I know her stories will be a treasure for many future generations in her family.
If she'd share them with the general public, they'd make a great Louisiana history lesson.
I don't like making New Year's resolutions, but this year I will.
In 2007 I resolve to start writing down some of my childhood memories and to ask my parents to share more of theirs, and I encourage you to do the same. What better way to learn about a time and place than from someone who actually lived through it?