Fiddles, radio broadcasts, signing-off and I-pads

I know it sounds cliché, but I’ve got to get it off my chest. I miss the good old days.

Were people really kinder when times were slower, or is my aging memory fading the harsh colors of reality into softer, gentler images?

Here’s my point, which I think may be undeniable; people had more time for and with each other before the barrage of 24-hour newscasts, sportscasts, movie channels and reality television. People had more silence and fewer disruptions before the cell phones became the most necessary item to carry with you at all times with their jingling or sometimes jarring tunes announcing an undoubtedly urgent call, or a beep or buzz announcing a new text message of vital importance.

My grandmother’s family and a few friends seeking diversions, used to gather around the piano in the parlor. Grandma played the ivory keys while her father and brother coaxed lively tunes from their fiddles. They weren’t professional musicians, just farmers. Camaraderie, laugher, and shared endeavor could all be regularly found in that small parlor of an evening.

My parents used to gather with their respective families around the family radio for the broadcast of Only the Shadow Knows, or another favorite radio show. Intent listening, respectful silence and vivid imagination were all required in that living room of an afternoon.

We always had a television as far as I can remember. It was a big bulky thing that made an awful buzzing noise when my parents turned it on. The screen lit up with random horizontal lines struggling to form themselves into a coherent image.  It turned off in the same fashion—static noise and lines ending with a final pop. We received three major networks all of which signed off sometime in the evening. When something monumental was happening in the world, you waited until the evening newscast with Walter Cronkite to hear about it.

There was no popping in a DVD of Jungle Book to entertain a sick and sleepless child in the wee hours of the morning. What did our grandmothers do with their sick children in the middle of the night? Did you ever wonder about that?

Human interaction, I suppose.

I do believe people were different when things were different. But not always and only for the best. I don’t have to attempt to list for you all the things that are better now because of modern technology.

I just think we make a mistake if we assume that nothing was lost.

Even so, I for one am not now, and likely never will be, willing to part with my laptop and I-pad.

We march on.


Circa 1917—Katherine Roecker Adams holding my grandmother Anna behind Raymond, Harold, and Florence beside Harrison Myron Adams and two horses.


Copyright © 2011 by Christine M. Grote

10 thoughts on “Fiddles, radio broadcasts, signing-off and I-pads”

  1. I like your thoughts, Christine, & would like to add from a more distant perspective that we did have incredible software in the early 1950s: books. And a lot of kids were huge readers. Born during WW II, my generation avidly read any book on the war in which our fathers & uncles fought. And then there were boys’ adventure books & of course imperial British lit, now triple plus un-PC but still wonderful. But the great fun was sharing our books with each other & going to the library on Saturdays. Many boys who were obsessed with sports or music or cars read books on their subjects. Probably most of what we indulged in was mediocre but at least our brains were processing information & we weren’t mindless consumers, to judge by the stimulating classroom discussions we had in my blue-collar Catholic high school. And on TV we had The Twilight Zone & other programs which sometimes were the subject of those discussions. About the new media, I guess if I won’t give up my cell & texting & laptop, everybody else gets to have their stuff. Only look up once in a while as you drive along. Oh btw: before we read & sent texts while driving, we sometimes noticed drivers reading a paperback … though never on the expressway.

    1. Yikes! on the paperback reading while driving. I loved the Twilight Zone. So nice to hear from you. I write with you in mind, wondering if you’re amused, wondering if I’m going to get zinged.

  2. Oh, thanks for that piece, Christine! I was out with a guy I was dating and he was texting on his cell and I said nothing at first, and then I got really annoyed that my company wasn’t enough for him. I said “it’s really rude to be texting when you’re out with me.” He looked at me kind of sheepishly, and shut it off. But what about those who are growing up texting their parents from practices, etc. at the age of five and up? To them, cell phones are the way it is, and face to face interactions are more of a hassle now because you have to deal with a reaction in real-time.
    I’m not willing to give up my technology either, but I hope that we teach our children and young adults protocols – that real human interaction comes first.
    I suppose I’m a naive dreamer… 😉

  3. I agree here, we had more time for each other before the invention of the TV etc And I dont watch too much TV even now.. prefering to listen to music.. But I wouldnt be without my phone or my laptop either, I have met so many interesting people using the net..
    And I enjoyed this post Christine..
    Im trying at last to put my 7 links Challenge together..

  4. When my nieces visit, we have several “text free zones” during the day . . . when we engage in good old old-fashioned face-to-face communication. 😀


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: