Thursday, 6 May 2010

Museum Pieces

Want to feel old?
Talk to your grandchildren.

Granddad, how did you watch TV when you were small?
We didn’t have TV. TV didn’t exist.

But who told you stories?
My Grandad did.

But you had music, right?
Oh yes, we made music.

Made music? How?
We played musical instruments and we sang.

You did? That’s weird.
Not at all, we enjoyed it.

But when you just wanted to listen to music, what did you do then?
We had a radio.

What’s a radio?
A box with knobs on the front. When you turn them, music comes out.

Okay, maybe that was a little excessive, let's try mothers and daughters instead.

Mum, what colour was your mp3 player?
We didn’t have them when I was a child.

But how did you listen to music when you were out?
On a walkman.

What’s a walkman?
A gadget for listening to cassette tapes.

What are cassettes?
Little square boxes with long reels of tape inside.

Could you put CDs into your walkman?
They didn’t exist then. We had LPs.

LPs, large, black, round discs, for playing music.

And how did they fit into your walkman?
They didn’t. We had record players. There were no CD players either.

Mum, what kind of mobile phone did you have?
I’m afraid, darling, they didn’t exist either.

Didn’t exist? How did you call home when you needed a lift?
There were public phone boxes.

We had stationary telephones, on a string, with a kind of wheel with numbers from 0 – 9.

So how did you get in touch with friends. How did you send them photos and texts?
You spoke to them in person, when you met them.

Really? In the evening, did you mail them?
We had no email. There were no computers.

Eh? No computers?  So how did you do your homework without the internet?
Yes, how did we?


  1. You have made me smile today :-)
    I was one of the lucky few who bathed in a tin bath in front of the fire....bliss eh?
    A x

  2. and the older generation had to learn to be a bit more resourceful! I remember the 'neighbourhood' television where we all gathered to watch hockey and Ed Sullivan!

  3. I recall asking similar questions of my mother and feeling she had lived in the most primitive of times and circumstances. Can't believe it is already the turn of our generation to be the 'museum pieces'! Thanks for the reminder Friko!!! ;0)

  4. How right you are. Homework meant a combination of a good memory and books, with occasional desperate pleas to any handy grown up! Give me the internet any day...

  5. Years ago I realized I'd already passed into the older generation when, in speaking to a younger woman about my childhood, I mentioned having to take a nap every afternoon and not being allowed to go to movies or public swimming pools because a polio epidemic was raging . . . and the young woman said, "What's polio?"

  6. Oh yes. So true. Now I will not be angry about all those long walks in the snow in regular shoes that my parents had to take to get to school...maybe they really did!

  7. Ha.....fits my mood today, thinking about the 'old' days and trying to convince myself I'm not that old yet ..

  8. Hey we aren't old!! We just have very long memories!! Thanks Friko. It must be so brilliant being young today and yet many complain of boredom. With all that going on, how can they have time to be bored - or maybe its all done for them and they don't need to create for themselves.

  9. Grandpa - did you see the dinosaurs? When was color invented? (The world was once all black and white if old photos and movies are to be believed) These are all perfectly logical questions.

  10. Good one, Friko!!
    I think that the technology gap between my generation and my children's is as big as between my grand parents' and my parents'. There didn't seem to be such a big gap between my parents' experience and mine - we experienced the first moon walk together, they had telephones etc.
    I can't wait to talk to my grandchildren about party lines, rabbit ears on TVs, rotary phones, heating with coal..........

  11. Ah yes.... and if you want to be reminded that some things really have got better, try talking to a young colleague about to go on maternity leave about how you (and most other women of your age) were expected to give up their jobs after the first few months of pregnancy. For ever, in some cases.

  12. I had a conversation with our daughter today, Friko, and during the course of it she exclaimed, "Dad, do you realise, when I was small, we only had three TV channels?" She's only 31 years old!

  13. Wipso - As if you needed me to do that! But I'm glad I did, anyway.

    Violetsky - there was no TV when I was small. I read books.

    Bonnie - At least, it is everybody's turn, at some time, to be the museum piece. If we're lucky. I don't mind at all. That way I get a chance to lecture the younger generation on how lucky they are and how hard it was for us! I like finger-wagging and lecturing and being looked upon with pity. Well, when I'm taking the mickey, anyway.

    jinksy - I am not so sure, I still like looking things up the laborious way, it's more fun and leads to a heck of a book mess on the table.
    Which is something I like too.

    Vicki Lane - Now that is truly extraordinary. Even an adult who has not experienced it surely knows about polio? Perhaps she was just thick?

    Tabor - They probably did. What hardship stories do you tell your grandchildren?

  14. Geri O Hara - I'm not to bothered about getting old, it's the infirm and
    brain dead bits which worry me.

    Twiglet - Nothing ever changes, does it. Did you never complain about being bored? Frankly, I wouldn't want to be young again. I like being able to do as I want and we certainly can make use of everything modern technology offers.

    Rusty - Of course they are, and children will go on asking them for ever. And parents will continue to feel both superior and left-behind, in equal measure, if they are lucky.

    Pondside - There you are, something to look forward to in your old age. You realise they'll pity you, don't you?

    rachel - yes, some things, many things, are definitely better now.

    Martin H - Sorry Martin, that was hard!

  15. It's like the kids at school who look horrified when you suggest that, if their computer is broken, they could WRITE. On a piece of paper. With a pen. Cue puzzled looks. What is this? The Dark Ages or something, Miss?

  16. Somehow we managed. But I'm not sure how we did it without computers, quite frankly.

  17. Oh Friko. I know the feeling! I had a His Master's Voice wind up gramaphone and listened to Tab Hunter singing 'Red Sails in the Sunset' on a scratchy 78rpm record. I feel very ancient!!

  18. Fran - Yeah, Miss, what is this. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
    At least we know how to operate pens and computers.

    Nancy - Really? No, seriously, really?

    mollygolver - I remember 'Red Sails In The Sunset", but not the wind-up gramophone. Mine was at least electric. And portable to start with, then a great big commode sized thing, for radio and gramophone combined. Massive it was, on legs, with a lid. God, you've reminded me; it was actually a piece of furniture and I was totally proud of it.

  19. What a wonderful mean to measure time. Even though being three and a half decades of age, can relat to much of it, as I had not TV before age 16, not a computer until being 19 and a mobile phone I got two years later, writing letters with a fountain pen...sigh... believe me, I do wish to return to that time.
    Please have a wonderful Friday.

  20. I've never had a cell phone.. and my mp3 player was more of a passing fancy but I sure wouldn't want to live without my computer now. How would I catch up on blogs? How would I upload photos? How would I cope without reading my email? How would I know the answer to something within thirty seconds of asking it without Google?

    I love my memories of the good old days but I LOVE my computer.

    Fun post, Friko. :)

  21. When I was very young I would ask my mother about "the old days" when she had been my age. One day I extended "the old days" into a long string of " the olden golden golden olden olden olden golden days..."
    Mom replied, "They weren't quite that olden."

  22. I must have been quite little when I asked my mother if she'd worn a crinoline when she was young . Well , it was her fault , she'd been reminiscing about how many sweets you used to get for a farthing . She'd be 82 now .
    As for me ? I remember getting our first television when I was 9 and my eldest daughters can remember television in colour being introduced in Spain in the '70s .
    Grandson will see unimaginable changes taking place . For the good , I hope .

  23. Oh, so much has changed I don't even go through the iterations. My grandparents didn't even have cars... I remember not owning a television. I remember my first sight of a colour television. I remember - an experience incredibly exciting - the first time I connected to something on the internet.

    And now I get grumpy if everything I want isn't there in seconds.

    I am sure that there will be changes so great again, one day. But I'm not sure our children or grandchildren will see them. In between great leaps there are long periods of incremental change. We got lucky -- if extraordinary change excites you.

  24. My kids dimly remember when there was no internet and sometimes I have to think hard to recall what life was life before that too, but I rarely get asked what life was like for the younger me. Maybe if and when I have grandchildren I'll be able to trot out the 'when I was a girl' stories. Enjoyed this, Friko, and I always particularly like reading your retorts to the comments. At least you don't seem to be longing for the 'good old days', which is a total waste of time and only makes one seem hopelessly old.

  25. I did homework with pen and paper, and lots of referencew books, as did my daughter! And I think maybe we remembered things better than the cut and paste brigade!

    But I loved being part of my grandsons' projects when they were emuch younger and at Junior School when they 'did' the Second World War. I produced some photographs of our house when it was bombed and the grandsons were the envy of the whole class!

  26. I've come here from Darlene. I loved your remark in your profile about doing other things 'if blogging permits'! It could be me! And your view of our youth from the young perspective is great too.

  27. A fresh retelling of the oldest truth!

    Glad to be back, Missed Ya!

    Aloha from Hawaii

    Comfort Spiral

  28. And do you remember having to walk over to the TV to change channels?

  29. robert - a mere stripling like you already has memories of not having modern technology around? hard to believe.

    Hilary - me too, I love my computer, in fact, I'm addicted to it. particularly to blogging. I need to get a life.

    June - Just as well your Mum slapped you down. I expect you were just being silly, but it must have sounded a bit strong to her.

    S&S - Parents will always tell children about the good old/bad old days, we deserve to have the mickey taken. I hope all four all our grandchildren technology will be a boon, not a disaster.

  30. Julia - Thank you for visiting. I am sorry that I can't repay the compliment.
    I am quite excited by all the technological innovation I have seen in my lifetime and hope to continue trying out the ones that attract me. My mac hasn't let me down so far, I dread the day I should have to be without it. Best buy a spare, I think.

    Deborah - Hi Debs - glad to see the eagle has landed safely.
    No, I certainly don't hanker after the good old days, I much prefer comfort, everything on tap that my greedy little heart desires and I'm also quite keen to experience what happens next.

    Gilly - that's the idea, enjoy and cherish all ages you live through and thoroughly embrace the good things that come up, incl. modern technology.

  31. Rinkley Rimes - Thanks for visiting, Darlene seems to be having problems commenting. Nice to see you on her behalf. And thnks for the compliment.

    Cloudia - Glad to have you back, missed you too. Hope all is well again.

    Jackie - yes I do. Mind you, I still don't get to handle the remote very often, certainly not the one that belongs with the family TV.

  32. not just grandchildren - when I started with my previous company in the mid 1990s it was still a rare thing for people to have a mobile phone. It was only around 97-98 that we changed the system to allow us to record their phone numbers on. So much as we take this for granted it's really only been 10 years.

    Douglas Adams wrote: anything invented before you were born is in The Natural Order Of Things, anything invented between the ages of about 0-35 is a New And Exciting Gadget and anything created much after that is Against God And Must Be Stopped.

  33. Hungry Pixie - I love the Douglas Adams quote, hadn't heard it before. I think I might use it myself at some opportune moment.

  34. Ahhh - remember REAL fires? So much cheerier than the little pills we take these days.

    p.s. STILL trying to catch up with blogs I've missed!

  35. I went to a contemporary art fair in Shanghai recently, which was a real eye-opener. Chinese contemporary art has come leaps and bounds from the watery Zen landscapes to huge canvases of strange-looking beings. The prices being asked and paid were huge too.
    Oriental, if not Chinese, my print of Jean-Léon Gérôme's painting,, bought some time ago from, is as lovely as ever.


Comments are good, I like to know what you think of my posts. I know you'll keep it civil.