We had a Brownie box camera so it was impossible to post photos of me when I was just minutes old.
The cell phone was merely a dream (Maxwell Smart was ahead of his time with the shoe phone in 1965). Since the hospital only had a pay phone and we were poor, my parents waited until I came home to call people up. As for the relatives that lived a long distance away, my Mom mailed them a note. Yes snail mail!
I grew up with a rotary-dail phone and a party line. I would spend hours listening in to conversations other people had in our neighbourhood, until my Mom caught me in the act.
We had a whole whack of 8-tracks and I would become totally frustrated when they cut out in the middle of a song, with a big click, to switch to another track before the music continued. There simply had to be better technology than this.
When me and my 12-year-old best friend both got transistor radios for Christmas, we would tune them in to the same station and set them up at opposite ends of the room, cranking up the volume - ahhhh, stereo...
Vinyl was all the rage and I had my share of 45s and 78s, some of which are worth a lot of coin in today's market.
Different artists used "backmasking" to put messages on their albums that could be heard only when played backwards.
This became a marketing tool used most notably by The Beatles on their White Album, where the phrase "turn me on, dead man," fueled rumors that Paul McCartney was dead. Other artists like Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa also used backmasking to sell millions of records.
Our world seems like the Dinosaur Age compared to the children today, growing up with lap-tops, iPhones and digital cameras.
Yet this is not unlike the stories my grandparents and even my parents told me when I was young.
- My grandparents and my father were persecuted for their faith in Russia. I heard tales of forged passports, gunshots in the night, brothers and sisters forceably separated, having to leave the country with the clothes on their back, long train rides and then ten days at sea before reaching Canada.
- My Dad told me what it was like to feel hunger, every day. He and his brothers would shoot deer, rabbits, gophers, anything – just to try to feed a family of 12.
- My Mom talked about rising at 4 am to milk the cows. One of her younger brothers would always follow her, squeezing one of the cow’s teats to send a jet of warm milk on his oatmeal.
- During the Depression, my grandfather was one of the first people to drive a "Bennett Buggy." Unable to afford gasoline, he took out the engine of his Model T and hooked the emasculated vehicle to their two horses driving it proudly into downtown Winnepeg. My Mom and the rest of the family were ecstatic when they found out the Winnipeg Free Press published a photo of him and his horse-drawn carriage on the front page.
- My Mom yearned to read, write and draw but only got through Grade 6 before she was “needed” at home. I tried to imagine how she must have felt when her whole family gathered around the radio after WWII to listen with horror and disbelief to the atrocities that killed millions of Jews. My grandfather proclaimed Hitler as the anti-Christ and Armageddon near.
My parents sacrificed so much so that we could have all the things they did not.
I feel a debt of gratitude I can never repay, except with a life well-lived. It was what they wanted most.
I now have all the photos from my grandparents and parents, some of them dating back to the late 1800′s, when photography was just beginning.
It is a treasure to have this family history and look back on the time before the computer and Internet; a time of countless family gatherings, fruit-filled perisky and other Mennonite foods cooked by my aunts, simple games we would make up on the spot and stories told over and over again.
What are some of your memories before the computer age?
Check out Lisa's inspiring blog on the same topic but from a different point of view.