When I was growing up, I’d hear my parents talk about their childhoods and marvel at how different their home lives were from mine.
No TV. No washing machines. No store-bought bread.
Things sure had changed since they were kids, I thought.
Now I live in a home with wireless computers, a microwave oven that heats my food in seconds and high-definition TVs that let me download movies on a whim and rewind Downton Abbey repeatedly until I can make out what’s being said. And I’m considered practically a Luddite because the phone that goes everywhere with me isn’t smart.
Things sure have changed since I was a kid, I think.
I’d love to be able to climb into a time machine and return to 1965 or so, just to remind myself of what life was like then at my house.
Failing that, the Wayback Machine that is my memory will have to do.
I know we had one TV that got three channels, which meant I watched Gunsmoke and The Red Skelton Show whether I liked it or not. OK, so my parents had to put up with Gilligan’s Island. Fair is fair.
Everybody knew when their favorites shows were on. If you missed an episode, you waited for the summer reruns. Even VCRs weren’t around yet.
Our stereo was in the dining room, which was probably the only room where the massive wood console would fit. You either sat in there to listen to music or blasted the volume so you could hear it in the other rooms.
Our big white refrigerator had a locking handle and, if memory serves, a freezer compartment too tiny to hold much more than the ice cube trays. There was no dishwasher, unless you count my siblings and me.
Our phone sat in a cubbyhole in the wall between the stairs and the dining room. Until my parents got a second phone in their bedroom, none of us ever had a private conversation.
You ran to the phone when it rang, because the person on the other end was almost certainly someone you knew. If you didn’t get there in time, too bad. There was no voice mail or caller ID to tell you what you’d missed.
The house had two bathrooms, one of which didn’t really count, because it was a spartan space in the basement that I was sure was crawling with spiders. That meant four kids and two adults shared one bathroom. Oddly, I don’t remember that being a problem.
We kids shared bedrooms, too. I bunked with my brother for my first few years — an arrangement that probably would land our parents on Dr. Phil today —and then moved in with my sister when the oldest child left for college. I was 10 years younger and surely cramped her style, but I coveted her Beatles album, her makeup and every other glamorous manifestation of her sophisticated teenage existence.
We stayed home on Sundays, because the stores were closed. We banked during the week, which involved actually entering the building and talking to other humans.
If we needed information, we consulted the slightly outdated encyclopedia on my brother’s bookshelf or drove to the library. There was no settling an argument with Wikipedia. We just fought it out till someone caved.
We made popcorn on the stove and waffles in a waffle iron. Pizza came from a Jeno’s Pizza kit, not a delivery person.
There were no DVRs, no iPads, no Netflix or video games. Instead, there were library books, marathon Monopoly games and Saturday Night at the Movies.
Was life better then?
Yes. And no.
I’m not interested in giving up my Kindle or my GPS.
But I know I could live without them.
Mary Beth Breckenridge can be reached at 330-996-3756 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also become a fan on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/mbbreck, follow her on Twitter @MBBreckenridge and read her blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/mary-beth.