As your grandfather reaches the end of his life, I find myself craving more.
More time. More information. What was his life really like? How did he come to be who he is today?
So, I figured I’d make it a little easier on you.
I was born in the early 1980s, when TVs still had antennas, or as we liked to call them: rabbit ears.
If the show was fuzzy, I had to get up and move the rabbit ears to try and get the station back in tune.
There was no remote. Instead, I had to get up and turn the knob for the very few channels available to us.
There was no choosing what we wanted to watch. We watched what the stations offered.
Sometime in the 1990s, we got a tv with a remote and cable which offered a lot more channels. Still, we found out what was playing by reading the newspaper, The Virginian Pilot, which printed a schedule of shows by the hour.
I vividly remember channel 99 because we didn’t “subscribe” to that channel but there was a lot of moaning and an occasional boob or two amidst the fuzziness- chaotic, zig-zag lines that perpetually moved down the screen so you couldn’t get a clear view. I was equally confused and fascinated, wondering what these people were doing.
Yikes. Now, I know.
My grandmother had a rotary phone- one where the numbers were displayed in a circle formation and you rotated the dial on the front for each number. I loved it when someone had a nine in their number because I got to move the dial almost a full 360 degrees!
We had a phone with a very long cord so that my teenage sisters could walk into another room from the kitchen and close the door to have their private conversations.
Sometime in the 1990s, the “sneaker phone” was all the rage and boy, you know I had one, too! It looked like a shoe but was actually a phone (with a cord of course)! That was the bees knees.
When I heard a song on the radio that I loved, I had to quickly find a blank cassette tape to record the song if I wanted to be able to hear it again. Cassette tapes were four inch long plastic cases that held magnetic recording tape. Sometimes, I accidentally recorded over another song that I loved and there was no going back. Once it was replaced, it was gone.
I lost many a tragic recordings to this oversight.
I also eventually got a boombox that had TWO cassette tape players, which meant I could copy one tape to the other, making “mix tapes” for my friends. I would create a playlist of my favorite songs, decorate the plastic cover, paper insert and plastic case and give it to them as a sign of my love and friendship. It took a long time, so it was a gift from the heart.
The same went for movies. We had VHS tapes, not DVDs. If you wanted to jump to a certain part of the movie, you had to fast-forward. If you wanted to go back and re-watch, you had to rewind. It wasn’t as easy as choosing a “scene”, so you really had to want it to make the effort.
I think that’s what I’m learning from my dad.
He was born in 1931.
Everything took more effort, then.
And even in the 1980s, things took more time.
Now, it’s faster.
And yet, I frequently feel the need to slow down.
Your dad, born in the 1970s, really works hard to keep you all grounded.
To keep you playing outside.
So, when things feel too fast.
Cast off those shoes.
Remember where you came from.
And slow down.