A show-stopping number from “Bye-Bye Birdie”, in which I played Randi in 10th grade, is “The Telephone Hour”. Staged better in the theater than in the truly awful movie, it shows all the teenagers, posing in a multi-level platform-cubicle, gossiping on their princess telephones: “Hi Margie, Hi Helen, What’s the story, morning glory? What’s the word, humming bird” Have you heard about Hugo and Kim?” I loved being in that number, with one leg high up against the side of my box, showing my flexibility. “Did she really get pinned? Did she kiss him and cry? Did he pin the pin on? Or was he too shy?”
Real life wasn’t quite like that. Our house had two phones; one in the kitchen…not a private space. The other was in my parents’ bedroom, on the nightstand between their twin beds. I think it was a big deal when we got our first princess phone. After my homework was done, I loved to sit on the floor between those twin beds and chat for hours with my girlfriends. I’m not sure we had anything important to discuss, but it was fun to catch up on the day’s events, find out who would be going to the Friday night game, or the dance, any news of break-ups or new romances. Stuff like that. Visions of a cordless phone, answering machine or a cellphone was beyond my imagination. Actually being disconnected from the plug in the wall seemed like something from the Jetsons.
Do I miss this lack of connectivity? Not really. I miss the innocence of the era and what it represented in my life. Now that we carry little computers with us at all times, we can be in touch at all times. I was recently reprimanded by my husband, while he was still on Martha’s Vineyard and I was home in Newton, watching a movie one night, for not looking at my emails for a while. What was I doing, he demanded to know? (We’d had a mini-disaster at the Vineyard house that we needed to attend to…why he didn’t CALL me, well, that’s another story. But my phone didn’t ping, warning that a new email had come through, so he sat there, getting angry, rather than calling me!) Yes, we live in a hyper-connected world where we expect people will answer immediately; whether that is possible or not.
The AAA Trip-Tik is another vestige of those by-gone days that wasn’t as perfect as our modern GPS or Waze, but my dad was the master at following the orange high-lighted line to wherever we were going, whether it was up north to Lake Michigan for a vacation, or getting us out to visit his sister in Worcester (I thought that was such a funny word and mispronounced it the first time I saw it on a map). Our trips tended to go through Ohio, so we could visit Mom’s relatives along the way; her brother and nieces in Toledo, her sister and nephew in Cleveland. Then on to the East Coast to take Rick or me to Brandeis. Or pick Rick up at JFK airport upon his return from two years in Israel in 1972. So again, it makes me miss my father tremendously…his great driving and navigational skills (he taught navigation in the Army Air Corps in WWII), his generous spirit and love of family, his warmth and humanity.
While GPS had helped me tremendously (I have no innate sense of direction), I traveled constantly for business during my active working life, long before there was any navigational tool to help me find a new client in a strange city. When I set up the appointment, I would ask the client for directions to his company from the airport (as the common denominator, figuring that I could adjust once I got to my hotel). It is amazing how detailed the directions, with great landmarks, people used to give. I would also allow myself a half hour extra, in case I got lost, and in those days, gas stations actually had LIVE people, so I could always stop and ask for help, which I did, if I needed to. I have never been afraid to ask for help when the need arose. I was NEVER late for an appointment. That would be rude. I believe in good manners; in my professional and personal life.
The pace of life has sped up. We may feel nostalgia for what “used to be”. Technology has improved our lives in many ways, but it pays to remember how to be civil and patient.
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.