I recall thinking what a wonderful lifetime my grandparents had lived in because of all the progress they’d seen. They saw the introduction of things in their homes such as indoor plumbing, television, dishwashers and so much more. They were alive in a time where huge strides were made in transportation: air travel and cruise ships became available for the general public, mass transit took over cities and a majority of people owned automobiles. Washers and dryers became common place as did telephones and vacuum cleaners. They saw a man walk on the moon! They truly lived in a time of incredible innovation.
Now as I approach middle age (yes, I’m almost 50 but I consider that a halfway point considering the women in my family live long lives!), I begin to notice that I, too, live in a time of tremendous development. I’ve see calculators, computers, laptops, internet, microwaves, VCR’s, cell phones, SUV’s, blue tooth, DVR’s CD’s, blue ray and so many other things become a common way of life.
I can only wonder at what things my children and grandchildren will look back on as progress in their own generations.
Having recently visited my children I can tell you some things that are apparently changing in young family homes.
I recall the day when all visitor’s came to the front door. In the Midwest there’s a tradition of using the back or side doors — kind of like saying that everyone’s family here! But in my children’s generation it appears that garages are the main entry to a home. If you’re a friend or family – you come through the garage. Others are excluded by the hulking garages that shrink the homes they’re attached to. Entry by garage also means that you don’t have those chance moments with neighbors in the yard as you zoom in and the door closes tightly behind you.
My kids longed for some of my home cooking so I came prepared with recipes. They marveled at the quaintness of those little, food-stained, dog-eared, rectangular cards. Preparing their favorite dishes in their homes took on a new challenge when I realized they didn’t have things like hot-pads, oven thermometers, measuring cups, rolling pins, mixers, etc. I marveled at how they’d missed out on all these little kitchen trinkets that I considered necessities in my own kitchen. But then I realized, I could make do without all those things — much like my grandparents would have done. I used a towel for hot-pads, judged when dishes were cooked by what they looked like, approximated from experience what a cupful was, used a bottle as a rolling pin and instead of a mixer I used a fork to mix and my hands to knead. The true revelation here was that my children’s generation don’t cook in their homes like grandma and I have. Rather they eat out, have it delivered or fix something that’s mass-produced. Though I will buy frozen pizza, canned soup, spaghetti sauce, etc., and I like the occasional delivery or drive-up window, I still like knowing that I could make it all from scratch!
Long from the days of tintypes my grandparents were overjoyed with the ability to take photos on film, though the camera was only for special occasions. I bought my first camera while still in grade school, secondhand from my sister. I went through a lot of film imagining myself as a burgeoning photographer. I recall the days of Photomats and waiting a week for developed pictures. My kids mainly recall disposable cameras from their own youth. Now we all live in the day and age of digital cameras and photos we print at home on our own printers or upload to the computer to email or post on Facebook. While with my grandkids last month I brought them in for professional photos to be taken so that we have actual printed photos on professional paper to share with their great grandparents, to hang in my home and to mail to relatives around the country and the world. Yes, it’s a different and changing era.
In my day (who ever imagined I would be saying that!) living rooms were centered around the entertainment center, which was full of TV, VCR, multiple remote controls and LOTS of wires. My kid’s have their’s centered around the big flat screen TV with one multi-use remote and all the wires and other devices hidden away except for the surround sound speakers perched in each corner of the room. My grandparent’s living room was centered in a way as to encourage conversation in a way that people could face one another and have small tables where tea cups could linger on a doily.
All things considered, I’m not sure how much real progress we’ve made.
Still, I love living in an era of indoor plumbing, electricity, automobiles, internet and the other innovations I’ve come to rely on. I guess in the end I can only hope that I share with my grandchildren the wonders of technology and how far we’ve come while instilling in them the treasures of the magical eras that are slipping by. Who knew that making Grandma’s Apple Pie might be one of the best tools for teaching our next generation well, Grandma did!