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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Being a kid in the 50s and 60s

When I was a kid, we had to entertain ourselves with limited sources. We didn’t have electronics or the internet. Heck, we didn’t even have computers. Well, I guess there were a couple of them in Phoenix, but they took up a whole floor and were mainly for figuring electric bills or payroll. I remember seeing one on a field trip when I was eight or so. It was as interesting as the huge vats of milk at the dairy. Big, metallic, and of no use to me (ever, or so I thought).

Back then, if I wanted to know something, I asked Mom. I guess I was overly curious or maybe she was just tired of my perpetual ‘but why?’ replies to her answers. When a door-to-door salesman came to our house offering encyclopedias (Encyclopedia Americana, I think), she and my dad signed up for a set. I remember the red binding with gold lettering...and that it was outrageously expensive.
When it was too hot to go outside or I was tired of picking on my little brothers, I’d pick out one of the 20 or so volumes. I'd go through it page by page, ‘surfing’ the mostly black and white pictures, stopping to read whatever struck my fancy. Countries were boring, but animals and some of the plants were pretty cool. Not enough color, though.

We had never heard of karaoke, but we did have a record player. We made up our own dances to the sounds of Oklahoma, West Side Story, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake or (oh, so cool) we sang Harry Belafonte songs. Day-O at the top of our lungs was always a blast.

We did have a television, one of the few on the block. It was a little black and white ‘portable’ which meant it was on a rolling cart so it could be moved from room to room. I didn’t know anyone who had…gasp…two TVs! And color television was little more than a rumor. According to the encyclopedia (I looked) color was available, but the only stations that broadcast in color were on the east coast. Good old Scottsdale, Arizona had four TV stations at the time. They only broadcast from early morning to midnight or so, sometimes later on Fridays and Saturdays. And always in black and white.

Yes, we had ‘the classics’: Legos, TinkerToys, Lincoln Logs, yoyos, toy trucks, baby dolls, and even the latest: Barbie! Everything was static, though. If it moved, it was because of me. I had to pull the doll’s string or turn the key on the wind-up car to make it move. Battery-operated toys: I can’t remember any.

Fifty years plus later, so much has changed. What will it be like in 2065 for my granddaughters? Maybe SegWays and hoverboards will replace bicycles and skateboards. I’m (pretty) sure that electronic games will still be around. Maybe new homes will come with holo-decks like on Star Trek? What do you think?

TGBF first draftWant to see the future through another’s eyes? Check out The Great Big Fairy. See the 21st century through an 18th century female slave’s eyes. Is she overwhelmed? Wouldn’t you be?

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