My, How Things Have Changed


Some people think I spend an inordinate amount of time comparing life today with how things were in my youth. I do talk, write and think about those differences a lot, so maybe I am a bit obsessed with the subject – and for good reason. I look at my grandkids’ lives and how good they seem to have it (which is debatable) and wonder what the future holds for them. In 40 or 50 years, will they look back at the conveniences they had in the early 21st century and think how obsolete they are? Will they wonder about THEIR grandkids’ lives? Obviously, I don’t have the answers. All I can do is continue to compare the 1930’s and 40’s with life today and leave the future to them.

Way back then, we didn’t go to rock concerts to hear Glen Miller, Harry James, Benny Goodman and the Dorsey brothers, because there were no rock concerts. We listened to their music on our radios and, as a result, never experienced deafness because we sat too close to highly amplified speakers.

In every town, large and small, could be found a Five and Dime store where merchandise actually sold for a nickel or dime. Usually, if it was marked “made in Japan”, we considered it inferior. Today, it’s hard to find items that weren’t made in an Asian country.

Other things cost only a nickel:, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, ice-cream cones, 10 jaw breakers to name just a few. You could also spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail one letter and two postcards.

Taco Bell, McDonald's, and instant coffee were unheard of, but, much to my delight, White Castle came on the scene in the ‘30’s. Those 5 cent burgers (6 for a quarter) haven’t changed one iota, except for the price.

A new, 1938 Chevy sold for $600, but who could afford one? Certainly not my family. Too bad because gas sold for only 11 cents a gallon.

There were no televisions, anti-biotics, polio shots, frozen foods, copy machines, contact lenses, or yogurt. Nor were there credit cards, laser beams or ball-point pens. We filled our fountain pens from a bottle of ink.

Back then, we had never heard of FM radio, tape decks, DVD players or powered lawn mowers.
Nor did we see a guy wearing earrings unless he was dressed as a pirate on Halloween, and a belly button was not even apparent at the swimming pool let alone on a downtown street. Come to think of it, the two piece bathing suits we wore covered up more than do the outfits girls wear to dances these days.

We lived in a time when there was no such thing as gay-rights, computer-dating, dual
careers, day-care centers, stay at home Dads, group therapy and pumping your own gas. How did we exist without air conditioners, clothes dryers, and dishwashers? And I would have given anything for an electric hair dryer when I wore my then dark hair down to my shoulders. How many hours I would have saved with that little gadget.

Thinking about all we have at our disposal today makes me wonder if there could possibly be more thingamajigs out there waiting to be invented. Could we grow lawns that don’t need mowing? A car you can program to drive to a designated place while you watch TV? How about a robot who will feed a crying baby in the middle of the night? (Changing diapers might be a little more complicated.) I know they already have vacuum sweepers that move over carpets by themselves so why not an automatic dust cloth?

I’ve been telling myself that, if I keep thinking up these possibilities, I might have enough material to write a script for a new television show. But then someone told me that the writers of the Jetsons are already hard at work on it.

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