These days won’t last

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By John Pawlak

Don’t touch that dial!  Remember how TV announcers used to say that before a commercial break?  

How many kids today would even know what a dial is?  Before you know it, pushing buttons will be a distant memory, too.

Things have really changed since I was a kid (you know, back when they first invented electricity).  

We didn’t have remotes for the TV set.  There were six or seven channels to choose from (we only had that many because we got all the NYC stations) and they were mostly black- and-white.  

Shows that were in color would announce this in the “TV Guide.”  On sitcoms, the husband and wife slept in separate twin beds.  

Commercials took up about 10 percent of the total airing time and no one was interested in watching spoiled housewives from New Jersey throw things at each other (not even housewives in New Jersey).

Penny candy cost a penny - have your kids even ever seen penny candy? Soda was sold in glass bottles with caps that had to be pried open.  

Straws were made of paper and McDonalds had just sold their first million (not billion) burgers.  

We went to drive-in movies, mounted a cheap speaker on the car window, and watched the good guys win (and of course, they always wore white hats).

Depending on how old you are, the “good old days” include CDs, 45s, 33s or 78s.  

Recordings were reel-to-reel tape, followed by cassette and then micro-cassettes. Today a tape is something you use to wrap a present.

If you can remember when gasoline cost 35-cents a gallon, you probably remember having a real, live person run out to clean your windshield.  

When you bought a car, getting a rear window defogger was optional.

You had to crank a handle to roll your window down.  And the only air conditioner available was the 2-50 model (driving with two windows open at 50 mph).

It was truly a different world, perhaps a different universe.

Lingerie commercials used mannequins. I grew up watching women who “couldn’t believe it’s a girdle.”  

My nephews have grown up getting more sex education from Victoria’s Secret commercials than I ever got in school.  

“Take it off. Take it all off” meant that someone was getting a close shave.

Today, it means you’re watching a music video.

In case you were wondering, I’m not getting nostalgic or anything.

Every now and then, some friend will e-mail a “Remember how great it was back then?” list to remind us of simpler days long past.

But looking back, I find it surprising how easily we remember the good things and how hard we work to forget the rest.

Was it really that much better back then, or are our brains simply wired to believe that father really did know best?

Well, I remember my father sitting with us kids in the living room watching “Ed Sullivan.”  

When the Beatles made their first appearance, Dad said “Hmmpf! These guys will never last!”  Dad never was much of a visionary.

But he did see enough to see that his family was dressed warmly in the winter, well fed and we went to the doctor whenever chicken soup didn’t seem to fix whatever ailed us.  

We didn’t have the comforts of today’s world.  No computers, no video games, no $150 “I want to be a basketball star” running shoes.

Eight people and one bathroom and somehow we survived.  

Was it really better back then?

What really scares me is that my father was right.  

When I was in my early  20s and was slowly becoming aware of the true scope of problems in this world, I told him that it couldn’t get worse.  

He said it could and would. Now here’s something to really keep you awake at nights.  

Thirty years from now, someone will be sending e-mail (or whatever communication technology rules of the future) to your kids saying “Remember how great it was back then?”

John Pawlak is a teacher at Los Alamos High School.