It’s not my birthday, not even close. But with the big Five Oh coming in just over a year, I’ve been contemplating life more than usual. How so many things have and are changing. This past week while  making dinner, we reminisced about having to get off the couch, walk over to the TV and manually change the  channels. Of course my son had heard this before, but he and most of his generation can’t relate to this.  And a rotary phone? What?
I got an email from my mom a couple of weeks ago giving me an update on my grandma, my only living grandparent. She’s not doing so well and I don’t think she’ll be with us much longer.  And as I thought about her life, I wondered about all the changes she would have seen in her lifetime.  From radio to black and white television, then color TV.  From the first phones to cell phones. Not to mention the changes she faced as she moved to Canada to live on a farm and then on to the big city of Vancouver. Looking back, I wish I would have talked to her more about her experiences and how she felt about the world and its fast-paced changes.
I know each generation will have their own stories about new discoveries, inventions and social changes that will happen in their lifetime and how they were affected by them.  Some of those stories will probably get an eye roll or two from the new generation: yes, we actually had film in our cameras and had to wait while the pictures were developed; no really, our first video game had a flat white paddle and we hit a pixelated square back and forth over and over again; I had to stick coins into a pay phone to call my folks to come get me from school after practice.  And then there will be the more serious stuff about love and loss and how the world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket––and I think these life issues, no matter what generation you’re in, are totally relevant, and in some ways, unchanging.
All of us have some good stories in us. We might think our story is boring.  But I’m guessing that someone will be glad you shared the seemingly boring stuff and even some of the tough stuff you’ve gone through. I wish my grandma could tell me about her first boyfriend or what her favorite game was when she was six but I didn’t think to ask. Hind sight and all that…I don’t want to miss that opportunity with the other people in my life.
So maybe its time to tell someone about you and your childhood friend that always got into trouble together, share what you felt during a certain event in history or if you really want to pull out a tried and true cliche, mention how far you had to walk to school and how much snow or rain you had to slog through on the way.  Talk about the old music you used to dance to, or the books you used to read, the ones that really got your imagination going, and what about your first pet?  Reminisce, kick it old school and don’t be ashamed to do it! Some of us would really like to know.
What’s your story?  I’d love to hear about you…

Image note:  I shot this in an old school (no pun intended) in Jerome, AZ. It has since been transformed into individual spaces for artists and creatives––used as studios and shops. It was such a cool building that reminded me of my elementary school in Chilliwack, B.C.  This is exactly like the phone I used to call my folks on when I needed them to pick me up after whatever practice I was at.

  • sarah leonard

    Love your blog. That phone looks like the one my grandmother had (not a coin phone though). She had a ranch and after my grandfather died we bought property next door to hers but as it was WWII no building supplies so Dad gone in the Navy, Mom teaching in LA all day, and we lived w/G’ma and great grandmother a while/ eventually finally got a few boards and mortar together to build next door (on 13 acres) but NEVER did put in a phone. All through H.S. if a friend (or better yet, boyfriend,) called me it was to Grandmother’s house. We had an old WWII intercom with crank. She’d ring us and I had to run over to her house to answer the telephone. (Remember, she lived on 15 acres and we had 13). It was a heck of a sprint to get to that phone timely (and excitedly, remember we’re talking a 15 or 16 yr old). It was a party line, one of the telephone operators was a not too distant neighbor, and when you went to make a call you might hear Mrs So and So chatting so had to hang up and wait for a free line. I never “lived” with a phone until I was 20 and in college when parents retired and changed homes.To this date I still am not great at initiating phone calls and dealing on the phone. It used to amuse me to hear my then 16 yr old chatting at length on the phone(which he’d take to his room). A real generation difference.

    April 29, 2017 at 4:15 am
  • Tracy Dyer

    I love this blog post Carmen and have been thinking about it for days. While I’m sure our generation will have our ‘back in the day’ stories, I wonder if we’ll ever really experience the incredible changes of our grandparents generation. It is mind blowing to think of what they lived to see. As for me, I do remember walking over a mile to school AND COMING HOME FOR LUNCH. On really cold days we’d stare at the line up of cars hoping one would be our mom. Hard to think that they would just show up somewhere and have no means to text or communicate their arrival other than pure convention. I also remember just going outside to play. We didn’t have pre-arranged play dates. We would grab a skipping rope or some barbies and set up on the lawn looking for other like minded neighbourhood kids. Or go ring a doorbell and ask if so and so could come out and play. Most of the time our parents didn’t even know where we were, especially when we were out enjoying the freedom that our bikes offered. TV shows were watched at the time or were never seen. It wasn’t until years later when the fancy VCRs made taping anything possible. But that was if you were diligent in making sure you had a tape loaded that had room on it. If a boy wanted to talk to you he had to call you…on the phone…and speak. I had the enjoyment recently of finding notes passed in school that I had kept. Actual hand written notes that volley’d back and forth between myself and a jr. high friend talking about boys, hair, school. Telling each other to WB at the end of each session. Finally, to make me sound really old, my sister and I would do our chores on Saturday mornings and get our allowance. I don’t remember exactly what the amount was but it certainly wasn’t more than a few dollars at best. We’d ride our bikes to the local strip mall and spend .25C on candy for the week. FOR THE WEEK. I still remember those trips vividly and the time spent selecting the perfect treat. Thanks for this blog post, it has brought me many smiles as I reminisce….WB.

    May 7, 2017 at 6:57 pm
  • Thanks for taking us back, Carm!

    One of the first things that always comes to my mind on this topic is how we were gone on our bikes. ALL. DAY. LONG.
    No one knew where.
    No one knew what.
    No way to be in touch.

    It’s so foreign a concept now — when my kids were “play in the neighborhood” age and teenagers I knew (well, mostly knew) where they were every second…
    “These days” we’re calling 911 if we can’t find them in 15 minutes flat.

    When I was in grade three I “married” my friend’s brother and we were busy planning a move into his parent’s recently vacated basement suite. I was busy picking out curtains and planning meals. (It was going to be a high cereal diet). Then, at about 4;30, it was time to go home. We were annulled by dinner. Thanks to their ignorant bliss, my family was spared the shame of their daughter’s failed marriage,

    I wonder if he moved on.

    May 9, 2017 at 12:55 am

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