Today’s technology has exponentially changed life as we know it. Sometimes it doesn’t seem possible that there ever was a time without modern conveniences. Here are some memories from the last two generations of females in my family.
Memories from Grandma
I always loved listening to my grandmother talk about stories from her youth. She was born in 1915, and literally saw nearly a century of technological change. I remember her telling stories about being allowed to drive down the street at the age of 12. There weren’t a lot of cards, and Sylvania was still a small town. There was no need for traffic lights at first. Driving into Downtown Toledo was a special Sunday trip, whereas now people drive through it daily on the expressway.
Growing up in the Great Depression, Grandma never wasted money on things like books. She preferred to go to the library, instead. When she couldn’t see the print anymore, she started getting books on tape, then books on CD from the mobile library that visited her retirement communities. I’m sure that had she been able to see them, she would have enjoyed reading books on a Kindle or Nook. Though she was actually worried about saving money, she was also a reading pioneer in going green!
Grandma also had a hard time with cell phones. It was hard for her to comprehend that she could call me even when I wasn’t home. Also confusing for her was that I had a Toledo number, which she could call for free, being a Sylvania resident. But, I lived a half hour south in Bowling Green, which was usually long distance. She always cut the conversations short, because she was convinced that she was still paying money for long distance charges.
Despite the mobile phone confusion, my grandmother was using the Internet for email after the age of 80. She discovered that on the computer, she was at least able to enlarge the print. Letters sent the old-fashioned way were tougher to read, so she had to use a magnifying glass. But when it came to communicating with the rest of us, she preferred the old-fashioned method of writing a letter, or sending a card.
Memories From Mom
My mother, born in 1940, grew up on a farm in Michigan. They didn’t even have a TV, until she was about thirteen years old. It never really took with her, and she still complains that there is nothing to watch. We would almost be better off without one!
Mom was also an accountant in her former life. Back in the day, she had to learn formulas and how to abstractly compute, using just a pencil and a piece of paper. Eventually, she started using an adding machine. You had to memorize the keypad, so that your fingers could fly as you did your computations. But at the same time, you needed to be able to sense a mistake just by looking at the numbers. Now, the computer does it all for you.
My mother also grew up in the era where women were expected to learn skills that would allow them to work outside the home, if necessary. As I was growing up, she made sure to teach my sister and I how to type and take shorthand. We had to learn how to type properly, because when using a typewriter you couldn’t make a mistake. Of course, now you have a computer that alerts you to all of your spelling and grammatical mistakes, and corrections are easy to make.
Have you ever seen those old-fashioned phones where you had to wind the crank, then talk into a sort of funnel, as you held the earpiece to your ear? Those old phones always reminded me of a weird face. Mom grew up using one of those. She easily adapted to using a rotary phone, and later a touch tone phone. Even cordless phones are easy to use. But there is something about a cell phone that is just too confusing. Why do you have to push a send button? And then, the new concept of putting a phone on speaker is difficult. Every time I call, my father likes to put me on speaker so that both of them can hear me at the same time, without that annoying echo of using two different phones. But every time he leaves the room, and he tells us to continue our conversation, she always wants to put it up to her ear.
My Own Memories
I am considered the know-it-all in the family when it comes to using technology, but really my sister is better at all of that stuff. I love looking at how much has changed in the last two generations. What amazes me even more, is looking at how much the next generation already knows. What will they come up with next?