Wednesday, January 21, 2009

This Is How Old I Am

I got this one from Charlotte (very appropriate since I'll be celebrating my birthday in exactly one month).

We had two (black) telephones in my house when I was growing up, and they had dials on them. You had to sit where they were plugged into the wall when you talked on them. Oh, and if you wanted to know who was calling, you had to walk over to a phone and pick it up when it rang.

Speaking of walking, if you didn't like what was on TV, you had to get up, walk across the room, and turn a dial to change the channel.

I wore bell bottoms and paisley the first go-round. (Oh, and I used to care about wearing the latest fads instead of what would last.)

I remember when Sesame Street debuted (big event. I was allowed to watch more than my normally-allotted half hour of TV that day).

I remember when MTV debuted (by then, my mother had lost all control over my TV-viewing habits). In those days, it was (a very cool) channel that showed videos 24/7.

"Clackers" were banned from school, because kids were hitting themselves (and others) on the head with them (never figured out if they were doing that accidentally or on purpose. I'm sure there were a few in my class I would have hit on purpose, if they'd been allowed).

The whole country, for some inexplicable reason, went ga-ga over CB radios, and said things like "ten-four, good buddy."

There was a summer nobody wanted to go to the beach, because they were afraid they were going to be eaten by a great, white shark.

There was another summer when it suddenly became all the rage to say to others, "May the Force be with you."

We had these things called roller skates (not blades) that had two wheels across the toes and two wheels across the heels, and you weren't cool unless your parents rented out the skating rink for your birthday party. You also weren't cool if you never got invited to birthday parties at the skating rink.

If you were a girl, you and your friends fought over who was cooler: Vinnie Barbarino or The Fonz (The Fonz, of course). Then you fought over who was better-looking: Starsky or Hutch (Starsky, of course).

I wished so badly my parents would get rid of the ugly old oriental carpets they had and lay down wall-to-wall, green shag carpet all over the house, like the carpet in my best friend's play room.

I knew all the words to every song in Grease by heart, and, at slumber parties, my friends and I made up dances incorporating as many moves from the movie as possible.

People actually listened to AM radio.

I was doing my math homework when the (FM by then) radio station I was listening to interrupted a song to tell us that John Lennon had been shot.

When I was in college, there was this place called the computer lab, because nobody had his or her own computer, and I shied away from taking any computer courses, because I heard nightmare stories about the lab always being full and people only being able to get on a computer to do their homework at 3:00 a.m.

I was afraid to use an Apple computer, because that whole mouse thing seemed so foreign and awkward.

The drinking age in most states was eighteen.

When I first went to work at a public library, one of the big arguments in the library profession was whether or not to keep old (print) card catalogs once all their data had been transferred onto online public access catalogs.

When I first started playing around on the Internet, it was ruled by Archie and Veronica, and if you found something today, it very well might not be there tomorrow. We argued in the library world over whether or not to let patrons have access to it.

When I first joined the wonderful world of book publishing, we did not have Internet access or email. When we finally got email, only one computer had it, and the entire department had to share. Same when we finally got the Internet.

The World Trade Center: It wasn't there when I was born. I'm very glad I can say I went to the top of it. It's no longer there.


Anonymous said...

Wow, we ARE old! I remember at one of my publishing jobs the day our first laser printer arrived (it was 1987). I printed out a paragraph on it and then we all gathered around the sheet of paper in amazement. "Look how beautiful the type looks!" we screamed. Even then it reminded me of the scene from "Fiddler on the Roof" when Tzeitel's family gathers excitedly around the new addition to the family: Mottel's sewing machine!

In my first job in publishing (early 1980s) we could use the gigantic computer if we signed up for it in advance and could figure out the elaborate coding.

And I well remember the Internet before there was a user-friendly World Wide Web. Everything was text-based. The idea that we'd one day be able to sit in a coffee shop (as I am now) and be connected to the world, wirelessly yet, was absurd.

For that matter, I remember the day we got our first color television set in the 1960s. The first thing we watched was the Doris Day movie "Jumbo" and we couldn't believe that we were actually seeing such brilliant color images right there in our home. Before that, we'd always go to my grandparents for the annual TV showing of "The Wizard of Oz." They were the only people we knew who had a color TV.

I wonder what kinds of things like this my daughter's generation will be saying in 20 years. ("Remember when all the Presidents were white men?")

Anonymous said...

Crazy how fast things change isn't it?

Anne Camille said...

I'll have to do this one. My husband asked me yesterday if I felt older or younger since we now have a President who is the same age as I am. (I think he's actually a little bit younger.) I think the answer is young.

ZoesMom said...

We could have attended the same Grease singing/performing slumber parties and "The Fonz" was so much cooler than Vinny.

Anonymous said...

I loved Charlotte's and now I love yours! I remember the days without a remote control, too!

Anonymous said...

I don't know who Vinnie is but I had the same dance/slumber parties to the Grease soundtrack. This one is super fun - I'll be doing it next week for sure! It's definitely weird to think people worked before email...for every job I've ever had that's been priority #1...

Emily Barton said...

Danny, oh I love that laser printer picture you've painted. And I, too, wonder what kids of today will think back on (perhaps "remember when we lugged around heavy textbooks in school?")

Sara, yes and without our even realizing it, really!

Cam, oh yes, much younger to have a President our age (especially when people talk about how young he is!).

ZM, even when we moved to England, the slumber parties included "Grease" performances (I was considered very cool, because I had an American accent that sounded like the singers).

Litlove, would love to see your version.

Court, Vinnie was John Travolta's big break (before "Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease"). Can't wait to see your version.

Anonymous said...

Oh that was fun! Remember Pong? We had a Pong game at my house and we thought we were sooo cool. Our TV had a remote control but it never worked and my sister and I had great fun changing the channels by shaking keys in front of the TV. Of course this only made whoever was watching it at the time mad.

Emily Barton said...

Stef, oh yes, Pong! We played it for hours, and I remember those old remote controls that never worked (some of our more "gadgety" friends had them. I grew up to be a Luddite, of course, because my home was full of them).

knitseashore said...

I'm late to the (slumber) party here, but I do remember doing the Grease songs. And babysitting people who had Atari consoles for their kids.

I also have albums on vinyl, cassette, CD, and MP3. Does this mean I am old?