It has been an interesting couple of weeks, as the long awaited move into a new home that has all the personal touches and vision of my friend Janet have been realized. This, after about a 9 month process since we began that project. Thank God it was her vision and not mine, otherwise we’d be living out of old shoe boxes and hanging sheets over windows like I did during my college years.
The move gave us some time to reflect back on both our pasts and the changes we’ve seen in our lifetimes. A number of those changes may have more significance than others.
My memories go back to the first car I can remember my dad having, a 1950 Chevrolet with a standard transmission and shifter on the steering column. The most impressive thing about the car was it had a button on the floor, which would engage the starter, but if the ignition key was not on it would merely lurch the vehicle forward. Yes, once in a while I’d sneak out and push that starter button and immediately run back into the house, having experienced a great triumph for a fourth grader.
Our first television was a Muntz TV. I believe it was about a 12 to 15 inch screen that was encased within a very large wooden box. Compared to the televisions of today, it was primitive. As children our primary purpose was to serve as the “remote control” for this fabulous gadget which would go on to change today’s modern society and provide our parents with the ease of changing channels; yes, all three of them.
My dad was a barber before his passing at only 45 years of age. I can remember a time walking through the kitchen, he and my mother were agonized over raising an adult’s haircut to $1.25 over the $1.00 he was presently charging. He was adamant that a child’s haircut would have to remain at fifty cents, as a parent could never afford a $0.75 haircut for junior and would quit bringing him in. Boy, would “Hio” Stefanides be amazed at young men and adults going into a salon and shelling out $35.00 for that same haircut today.
When I do think about my dad, I also think about the changes in the medical field and what they might have been able to do for him when they discovered his challenges with cancer and the 9 months he suffered with it. At the same time, I think about the wonderful strides that have been made and the second chances that have been afforded to so many I know today and those yet to come.
I watched a video the other day of some teenagers staring at an old black rotary phone. We had a similar one in our home growing up and laugh at thinking how today teenagers are being deprived of the privilege of slamming down the receiver after getting another one of those annoying sales calls. You can’t really do that with today’s cellphones! Even funnier was the fact that they couldn’t understand how to make a call and were dumbfounded that they had to pick up the receiver and listen for the dial tone.
Today we are connected to “electronic leashes” no matter where we go. We used to laugh when we’d read an edition of the “Dick Tracey” comic book series or watch an episode of the master detective on that old Muntz TV on a Saturday morning, as he’d speak into his watch. Those gadgets, which we saw as impossible back then, are today reality. From computers, to cellphones, to tablets, we are connected everywhere we go. I’m not sure it has made us better as individuals, as some would question the impersonal manner with which we communicate with one another.
Never in our dreams could we have imagined the wonderful exploits that lay ahead of us in the United States Space Program when we were glued to an episode of “Buck Rogers” or “Flash Gordon” back in the late 50s and early 60s. This was all fantasy, but fantasy turned into reality when President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to walk on the moon in the next decade in 1961. Buzz Aldrin would step on the lunar surface two years ahead of time in 1969 when the crew of Apollo 11 made the first of a number of successful missions to the surface of the moon.
I’m fortunate to have lived during the span of eight decades, having been born in 1949. During that time we’ve seen so many wonderful advances in technology. Advances which have undoubtedly saved lives, made manual tasks more tolerable and our lives a little easier.
We do have to question whether it has been at a cost and whether that cost has been worth it. We might think about that as we move through the next decades and as the next generation matures, to make sure we appreciate where we have been and where we might go in the future.
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjeAwcts, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com