While speaking with a youthful employee it became apparent that I am becoming a historian. Although I may not be a historian in the traditional definition, I have definitely become a historian in practicality. At the golden age of 45, I find myself explaining to a person half my age that the amount of music that they can listen to on their iPod is more than double a trunk full of 8-track tapes.
To add insult to injury, this person had absolutely no reference point to an 8-track tape. The absurdity of the conversation was my excitement when providing the explanation of the 8-track tape. The convenient size (which is equal to a small book) was difficult to explain – especially given that an iPod is probably one-fourth the size of a single 8-track tape. The benefit of re-listening to a song on an 8-track tape no longer made sense since it would require pressing the program button at least three times and then still have to listen to a song or two before getting to the actual song that you wished to listen to.
When I was a child I recall wondering how it was that my parent ever survived not having television. However, the first television that I truly remember my family having was an actual piece of furniture (a console TV) and was black & white. Today, my son can watch television on his iPhone. I remember if I wanted to call a girl; I had to ask my parents for permission to use the kitchen wall-mounted phone. Then, when calling I had to initially converse with the parent who answered the phone before asking permission to speak to their daughter. Today, elementary kids have personal cell phones in which they communicate via text in apparently their own language.
The DOS-based Commodore 64 computer with its green screen that everyone had to have is now an iPad that runs at lightning speed with brilliant imagery. Pen Pals have been replaced with Twitter and FaceBook.
As a child, I discounted my parent’s reflections of life as silly stories from old people who just wanted to make it sound like we should appreciate the things that we have. Although this may have been true, looking through more mature eyes it is amazing how the world has evolved and progressed – and how fortunate I am to have witnessed it. The historical value of technological advancements go without question, but do you recall your parents stating how they remember exactly where they were or what they were doing at critical times in our history? For example, I remember my father telling me exactly where he was and how he felt when the first Astronaut stepped on the moon. He remembered where he was when the Vietnam War ended as well as when Kennedy was assassinated. As a child, I could not imagine having such vivid memories.
But today, I can tell you like it was yesterday where I was at the moment Desert Storm began. I was in a pool hall following a horrible day as an industrial water purification salesman. Another salesman and I went to the Plush Pocket in the early afternoon to relieve some of the stress of the day. The bartender yelled out as we then watched the television in silence. Shortly thereafter as the bartender bought everyone a round of drinks, I found myself raising a beer to our soldiers with my arms around me that I didn’t know and probably would never see again – but at that moment we were brothers praying for our troops.
September 11th, I was lying in bed with my wife when we received a call from my father-in-law. We immediately turned on the television to witness the pure horror. It was an emotion shared by millions and one I pray that I never am forced to experience again.
There are many true Historians in the world, but I recently realized that each family has their own historians. It is often fun to share the technological evolution with younger generations. However, it is equally important to share with them periods of our life that were life changing moments – if not for us personally, for us as people and a nation. There is a famous statement that “those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.”
Needless to say………as Historians (and parents) it is our responsibility to share our historical information and benefit the future of our children. If nothing else, hopefully, they can learn some from our mistakes (although I am sure that most parents like me will edit the historical details of their own personal mistakes with their children). I do wonder though if the 8-track could ever make a retro-revival. Doubtful…….but a man can dream.
Husband, father, coffee connoisseur and lover of all things hockey. At 51 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. She knows all my faults and loves me anyway, As a father of “almost always” perfect boys, I am always surprised at what life has to offer. It is messy, scary, thrilling, and always fun.