The good old days
Ah, the good old days. how we wish we could go back and relive them. Playing in the street, baseball in the vacant lot, riding your bicycle everywhere.
Saturday morning cartoons, hanging out at the corner store. Didn’t worry about getting kidnapped, no “stranger danger”, no sir.
Movies and TV in the good old days
Saturday matinee at the local theater (or as we called it “going to the show”) was fifteen cents if you were under thirteen. Two movies and a cartoon.
Good shows on TV too. Gunsmoke, Ed Sullivan, Red Skelton, The Man from U.N.C.L.E , Mission Impossible, Star Trek. Just some of my favorites.
Music in the good old days
Music has been and always will be my life. I can’t imagine being without it. I tried to never be far away from it in the good old days.
Walking to downtown Atlanta to go to Rich’s. They had the best record selection around. Spent hours browsing through the records. Maybe I only had enough money to buy one, maybe not enough to buy any. But we looked anyway.
Funny, I wound up working for a company that sold the LPs to Rich’s. I was then able to buy music at a discount.
Listening to my favorite DJ on the radio. All the hits. Turn it up when one of my favorite songs came on. Calling in to make requests and dedications.
At home listening to my LPs. Had my headphones with a long cord so I wouldn’t blow anyone else away.
I had an 8-Track tape player in the car so I could take my music with me. Of course I had to buy the album again, so now I have two copies, one for home, one for the car.
When Cassettes came out I had to buy another copy, then we got CDs. I wound up buying 4 copies of the same albums.
Baseball on the radio in the good old days
Late at night fine tuning the AM radio to try to pickup WGN in Chicago to listen to Milo Hamilton, or KMOX in St Louis to hear Harry Carey, along with The Braves on WSB.
Sneaking a transistor radio into class to hear the World Series (some of the teachers, especially the men, didn’t care).
Nostalgia is hot right now. Stranger Things, The Goldbergs. The video game companies are bringing back new versions of their classic gaming consoles (Sega, NES, even Atari). All so people can remember what it was like.
Vinyl records outpaced CD’s recently for the first time since 1985.
Old shows and movies have been rebooted. Star Trek, Mission Impossible, a bunch from the 80s and 90s
Do you want to go back to the good old days?
If you could,would you really? Because right now I’m typing this over the internet on a laptop that, although it’s 5 years old, is about a million times more powerful than the one on Apollo 11. And that one landed two people on the moon. Did I mention that this is on the internet. The internet that didn’t exist (at least to the public) in those good old days. Nor did we imagine it.
Gas was 36 cent in the early 70s when I started driving, the equivalent of $2.21 now. That’s a little cheaper than the $2.50 something it is today. But considering that my 1971 Ford Torino got twelve miles a gallon (if I was easy on it) and my 13 year old Honda gets 25 or so, it would cost me $18.41 to go 100 miles in the Torino, and $10 in the Honda. Admittedly though, I don’t look as cool in the Honda as I did in the Torino.
Yes, a “simpler time” back then. It took 5 minutes for the television to warm up. Aluminum foil on the rabbit ears to get a signal, plus when the wind was blowing the screen got wavy. And there were no broadcasts after 1AM or so. Yes, the three TV stations we had turned off! Explain that to the kids today.
And no remote control. We had to actually walk over to the set and turn the knob to change the channel or even turn the volume up or down. Channel surfing wasn’t a thing then. You checked TV Guide, or the TV listings in the paper to see what was on.
Plus we had to watch a show when it was on. No on demand, no recording it to watch later. If you missed it, you just had to hope for a rerun in the summer.
And if you were able to afford a color TV (I didn’t until I moved out at 19), you spent a lot of time adjusting the color so the people didn’t look green
The standard “big” TV was a console with a 21 inch screen and a tinny speaker. Now a 50 inch with 4 – 8 times the resolution and 5.1 sound is normal.
I have many channels now instead of three. Along with NBC, CBS, and ABC we have FOX, CW, USA, TNT, A&E, and many many more. I have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. Plus there’s HBO and Showtime. For sports there’s ESPN and multiple regional channels.
Two major 24/7 news channels, plus dozens of others. No need to tune in at 6:00 to watch Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley.
We even have those old shows that we can watch over and over again.
More movies and shows than I can watch. But like Tom Merrit says: “You can’t read all the books either.”
Books and books
And speaking of books, not only can we buy physical books over the internet, both new (Amazon) and used (Abe’s), we can get them in digital form as well. And many are free. Some might balk at the thought of reading a digital book, but for me the words that are written are more important that what they’re written on.
And not to forget the local libraries. Yes, they still exist. And we don’t even have to go to the building. We are able to borrow books and magazines from there to read digitally over that internet thing.
Then there’s music.
Did I mention that music is my life?
I have hundreds of CDs that I have ripped and stored on my PC . Now I can stream music over WiFi to my phone or TV using Plex, then wirelessly to my earbuds. No more cords. And I can do this from anywhere. Not just at home.
But I haven’t bought a CD in a long time. I have Spotify. 30 million songs at my disposal to listen to anytime and anywhere I want. 30 Million. Plus there’s other services like them as well, Apple music, Google Play Music, Pandora, etc.
Oh, I didn’t mention that I have no need for a wall phone with a long cord that I can stretch to the bedroom. (I couldn’t talk long, because Mama ran a beauty shop out of the house and people might be calling to make an appointment).
Now I have a smartphone that is almost as powerful as my laptop that I can message other people all over the world on. I can browse the internet, listen to music, and watch movies and TV. And it makes phone calls too.
Plus back in the good old days we didn’t even own our telephones. You leased them from Ma Bell. If you needed a specialty phone that they didn’t lease, you had to purchase it, furnish it to the telephone company for rewiring, then pay a service charge, and a monthly lease fee to the phone company for using your own telephone.
Today everybody has their own phone and their own number! We couldn’t fathom that in the good old days.
The smartphone is another innovation that we didn’t imagine, but Jerry Pournell did in his and Larry Niven’s book “A Mote in God’s Eye“. He wrote about a “pocket computer” that would enable someone to communicate with the ship and other crew members. But that was science fiction, not reality.
You can be the star now
Back in the good old days, anyone on TV was a celebrity, now we can all be celebrities. Look at YouTube. Anyone can create a video, upload it, and have thousands of people watch it. The closest thing we had to that in the good old days was getting on The Popeye Club.
And Soundcloud. You’re a budding artist or band? No need to wait for some record company to find you. Upload your stuff to Soundcloud and promote it yourself. Plus make your own music video and put it on YouTube.
Fun to look back
Yes, it’s fun to look back on the good old days. I purposely didn’t touch on the political and cultural differences between then and now. Maybe another time for that. This piece was just focusing on technology and “stuff”.
I guess we were happy then with what we had because it’s all we had. Just as now, we didn’t long for the things that hadn’t been invented yet. We were living with the latest technology, just like we are now.
In 20 years will we look back at 2019 and wonder how we ever survived without (fill in the blank)?
Overall, the good old days are nice to look at, but you can keep ’em. I’m happy with where we are now, and looking forward to the future.