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Things the current generation doesn’t know about

January 2, 2012
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During the Avon Walk in 2011, I had the opportunity to walk part of the way with my friend Janet’s son.  Ryan is a freshman in college.  As we were walking from Little Italy down into Chinatown and over the Brooklyn Bridge, we chatted to make the miles go a little quicker.  I had recently seen a post on Facebook of a pencil and a cassette tape with a caption that the current generation would never guess the relationship between the two.  I asked Ryan if he knew, and he had no idea.

This got me thinking about other things the under 25 set probably have no clue about.  Here are just a few things….

  1. The national anthem played when TV stations signed off for the night followed by the test pattern. Yes, there was a time when there was dead air on TV.  There were no late night infomercial marathons selling all kinds of products which during the day, you would never, ever consider buying.  But somehow at 3:30 am, those Shake Weights and Pajama Jeans look appealing, don’t they?
  2. Only 7 TV stations: WCBS (2), WNBC (4), WNEW (5), WABC (7), WOR-TV (9), WPIX (11), WNET (13 – PBS). I grew up in New York, so I was spoiled with so many stations to choose from.  Even though I grew up within 15 miles of the City, we still needed a roof top antenna to pull in the stations.  And that’s another thing you don’t see any more… the forest of TV aerials on rooftops.
  3. Black and white TVs.  It was a big deal when we got a color TV in the early 1970s.  The TVs had knobs, that you actually had to manually turn!  Our first remote control looked like the one pictured here.  This one is a far cry from the 6 remotes we currently have to control everything in the living room, including one for the air conditioner!
  4. When soda and beer cans had pull tabs – the ring and tab came off of the can.  My husband commented that he had to use a can open to pop holes in the top of the cans – he predates the pull tab – he’s sooo old 😉
  5. Busy signals.  Now if the person you are calling is on the phone, your call goes to voicemail.  When I was a kid, you heard this signal or you can call my mother… she still has a rotary phone and there is a busy signal when she is on the phone.
  6. When the phone number had a word associated with the exchange. Our number started with Beverly 5 (BE5) and then 4 additional digits.  My husbands was Hick0ry 9 (Hi9).  I don’t recall an area code.  Any time you made a long distance call, you needed to get an operator to connect the call.
  7. Movie theaters had balconies and really large screens with curtains that opened when the movie started.
  8. Going to Woolworths to shop and having lunch at their luncheonette.
  9. How did we survive childhood: Riding bikes without helmets; riding in cars without seat belts – no seat belt in the vehicle! seating 3 across in the front seat of the car; drinking tap water from canteens instead of designer water in plastic bottles;
  10. Station wagons with rear facing back seats.  You got to stare (or wave and make goofy faces) at the people in the car behind yours.
  11. Collecting S&H stamps from the grocery store and filling the books with the stamps.  This was before self-adhesive stamps… you had to lick every single stamp.
  12. Taking photographs using film which needed to be taken to the drug store for processing.  They sent it out to be developed and you waited a week to see what your pictures looked like.  And if you wanted to share them with family and friends?  You needed to ask for duplicate prints.  No posting them to Flickr and sharing a link.
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