Talkin' 'bout my generation and what I have seen
During a recent conversation, my family was discussing my grandmother’s generation and the wonders she saw in her lifetime. Born in 1899, she went from horse and buggy to the moon. On the downside there were two world wars, the Great Depression, outhouses and Nixon, on the up was penicillin, Henry Ford’s assembly line, indoor plumbing and Neil Armstrong’s giant leap for mankind.
She saw so much change, and lived through so much hardship, I can’t imagine a generation better apt to cope, I mean, she was closer to the Civil War than we are to Vietnam.
It got me to thinking, (always a dangerous endeavor), about two questions: what have I seen in my lifetime, so far, which has changed people’s lives, and would my generation, and my children’s, be able to survive, like Nanny’s did, in a world without K-Cups?
I come from an era before paper towels and garbage bags; we used rags. My father, so expertly lined the kitchen garbage can with newspapers, that when he emptied it, the contents had become a perfectly gift-wrapped “New York Times” trash package. Yes, life was tough back then, but we didn’t have to walk 10 miles to school, like my parents said they had to, we had school buses and they were yellow. So here are a few life-changing, world-altering innovations which came about during my lifetime, which we take for granted because they are so mainstream.
Twist ties, yes, those little paper-covered pieces of wire which close bread bags. Before twist ties white bread was wrapped and sealed in waxed paper. Just about everything was wrapped in wax paper. Once plastic bags were used something was needed to hold them closed. The bags were new too; my mother and grandmother rinsed them out and used them to store other foods. But it was those little pieces of wire, still used today and found in millions of kitchen junk-drawers across America, which set in motion the modernization of food storage.
I remember the first Magic-Marker; I think it was called Marks-a-Lot. Pitch black, it stained everything, and smelled so nasty it would bring tears to your eyes and get you high. Then the Flair Pen, also in black. When red came out I loved it until Mrs. Colman decided to use it to correct papers. Nothing is redder than an F from a Flair Pen.
I was born before Velcro and Post-it-notes. When our kids were little, my husband thought we shouldn’t buy them shoes without laces, because they’d never learn to knot and bow their own. Anyone who has struggled to tie a 2-year-old’s sneakers realizes the miracle of Velcro. Little yellow squares of paper stuck to the glass above the window sill, where my husband drops his wallet and keys, is testament to the importance of Post-its regarding memory loss.
Anything with a computer-chip in it came after I entered fifth grade and cameras in cell phones, after menopause. The technical wizardry we have come to depend on advances so fast that what is developed today is obsolete tomorrow because it was only yesterday Alexander Graham Bell yelled, “Watson, come here I want you.”
I shudder to think what would happen if the world’s satellite system went dark. We would have to paper-and-pencil our way through commerce and grow our own food and chop wood to survive. Nanny would have survived a post-apocalyptic catastrophe, (she survived Prohibition), our kids know how to tie their shoes, and me, well I have my magic markers, Post-its and a junk drawer filled with twist ties. I’ll do just fine