Friday, September 5, 2014

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Before The Age Of Technology

Before Xbox and IPads...before smartphones and even smarter televisions there was a time to live a simpler life where neighbors actually knew each other's name and children could play outside without supervision while doors were left unlocked at night.

I grew up in an age before technology. When I started to think about it there was a long list of things my own son had access to during his childhood that either wasn't even invented when I was a kid or only families far wealthier than ours could afford it.

Color TV...not only were all the shows in black and white at our house, there was no such thing as Cable TV and aluminum foil wrapped around the rabbit ears of the antennae sitting on top of that small TV helped bring in better reception. Oh yeah, TV shows didn't run all night long either so if I was lucky enough to be allowed to stay up later then I could watch my favorite channel (only about 4 or 5 to choose from) go off the air while playing "Look Away Dixieland" or some upbeat song I wished I could remember as a horse and buggy trotted off into the sunset.

Refrigerator...there was no such thing as a refrigerator at my house when I was little. We had an icebox where you literally had to place a 50 pound block of ice in the top compartment so things in the bottom compartment could stay cool. Once a week we would ride in the back of an old black truck to the ice plant where a man with huge ice picks would throw that block of ice onto a blanket laid out in the back of the truck and we would rush home to get it in the icebox before it started to melt in the muggy hot summer sun.

Washer & Dryer...nothing electronic there. My poor mother's hands were rubbed raw as she used an old washtub with scrubbing board for years where she had to squeeze the water out of the clothes herself. We finally graduated to a wringer washing machine. Mother still used the scrubbing board to wash the clothes but she could now push the clothes through the two rollers while I turned the crank and out the clothes came flat as a pancake and ready to hang outside on the clothesline.

Air Conditioner...I never even knew what an air conditioner was growing up. We had one window fan to try and cool the entire house and we had open windows at night to hopefully catch a breeze. I would go to sleep on a muggy summer night fanning myself with a piece of cardboard or a homemade paper fan until either I was too tired to fan myself any more or I finally fell asleep.

Cell Phones...these things weren't even invented yet when I was little. Every house that could afford a telephone had one large, hard-wired black monstrosity that has a ring on it loud enough to wake the dead. Black was the only color and the handle was so heavy you probably could kill somebody with it if you hit them hard enough. You were out of luck if you were away from home and wanted to call somebody if there wasn't somebody willing to let you use theirs.

FM Radio...the only stations available was AM because FM wasn't even invented yet. And just like TV, the stations would sign off around midnight and come back on around six the next morning. Song choices were monitored in my house and for the longest time I thought the only singers out there were Buck Owens, Minnie Pearl, Roy Clark, The Oak Ridge Boys, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn. In other words, the Grand Ol' Opry and western music was basically the ONLY music allowed in the house when I was a child. We didn't even have access to a portable radio until I was in high school when my father brought a small boombox home just so we could hear Charlie Pride on the radio. Oh yeah, eight tracks were the thing to buy and reel to reel tape such thing as CDs back then...they weren't invented yet!

Computers...those were things that filled up a room at large college universities or government offices. You would never find one in a private home. Laptops and wireless connections weren't even invented yet. Nether was the internet so if you wanted to look something up you could grab the Encyclopedia Britannica if you were lucky enough to have a set at your house (we had a really old set) or get yourself down to the local library and ask the librarian to help you out!

Online Games...there was no Atari, no Nintendo, no Xbox, no Playstation, no Gameboy, or any other gaming systems. I was an older teenager before even the simplest games like Pacman or Joust was even invented and the only place you could find them was in a larger city at an arcade usually near the movie theater. Games were actually played outdoors with the other kids in the neighborhood or was a product of one's imagination. No batteries required.

Kindle...Tablets and Ereaders like the Kindle or Nook hadn't been invented yet. Libraries were the place to discover a good book and to a voracious reader like myself, I would blow through at least 100 books every summer beginning at age 5 and quite literally counted the days until the annual summer reading program at my local library. I can't imagine fostering such a love for the written word without being able to touch, smell, and almost taste a good book held in one's hands.

Those are just some of the things I did without growing up before the age of technology. I didn't feel I missed out not having those things around and quite honestly I KNOW my own son didn't have nearly the strong memories of his own childhood as I have. Without technology I was forced to actively be a part of the world around me instead of passively sitting back and watching the world come to you. I was the master of my own destiny instead of being at the mercy of a battery held device. And I became a better, stronger me because of it.

What things did YOU do without when you were growing up? Share your non-technology stories in the comments...


  1. We were able to hear all the recent rock and roll hits on the jukebox at The Swan Drive-In that mother owned. There, we heard Elvis, the Beatles, James Brown, the Supremes, etc.

    I agree with you about the summer reading program. I loved getting the books and reading all day.

    1. Hi Janet! I remember some of the times at the Swan Drive-in but not the songs...Just remember the Grand Ol' Opry...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

  2. we made up our own games, rode bikes, roller skated around the block, jumped off garage roofs for distance and style, made towns in the dirt beneath the apricot trees, drew pictures, played spud, hand-sewed doll clothes, pretended to be horses, had sword fights with sticks, and looked forward to the weekly trip to the library - where we would watch a movie (national geo travelog) and check out armloads of books to hold us for another week.

  3. Hi Sue! What wonderful memories! Thanks for sharing. I only have one question. What is "spud"? Sounds like what we called "hot potato"...;~)

    Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!