What a wonderful mind H.G. Wells had. A pioneer in science fiction, he gave us amazing tales for their time like, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and First men on the Moon. And of course his most famous novel, scared the bejesus out of
However, I’m not here to sing the praises of H.G. Wells. I’m using a less famous book he wrote, When the Sleeper Wakes, as a basis for my subject, ‘The Good Old Days.’ In the book a man named Graham wakes after being in a coma from 1897 to 2100—Two hundred and three years. The story centers on the fact that he was the richest man in the world, but what interests me is the changes in civilization and technology such a man must have seen. The author writing the book at the around 1900 didn’t really know the changes that would take place and didn’t delve into it. However, we are a little past the midpoint of that time period and the advances since then have been…well, let’s just say the word phenomenal doesn’t even come close.
When I think of the advances since WWII, I’m in awe. Those of you who are old enough, compare wall hung rotary dial black box dumb phones, with today’s tiny hand held smart phones and remember party lines. No, I’m not talking politics. I’m talking about sharing a phone line with up to sixteen other families.
Then there’s radios. Radios are ancient technology now but about the time of Orson Wells’ famous broadcast they were the technological equivalent of the internet. Large and bulky Radios were considered a piece of furniture and came about the size of a men’s bureau. A decade later TV’s came out, same huge box for a four inch black and white screen. Then eight inch screens, then ten inch, twelve, fourteen and the whopping big sixteen inch screen. RCA was there at the beginning, but other pioneer brands of old like
If our sleeper would have woken in the fifties, he’d have been amazed. Airplanes, atomic bombs, talking movies in Technicolor, automobiles with fins, sixteen inch black white televisions and Milton Berle, but if he woke up today, he’d probably have a stroke. Computers, internet, Xboxes, internet porn and gambling, cell phones, satellites, freeways, smog, global warming, seven billion people instead of one, American Indian gaming and…a Black President.
Back in the fifties, someone said it would be nice if the television pictures were in color and five years later they were. In the sixties President Kennedy challenged us to go to the moon and by the end of the decade we did. Then in the seventies, IBM said we need personal computers for everyone and the PC was born. I don’t see it in the average person I talk to, but it almost seems like human ingenuity is limitless. If you can think it it can be done. These are heady times we live in and they’re about to get even more interesting.
Yet, I miss the sixties and seventies. In the sixties, I didn’t to keep up with technology, a battle I lose everyday. No, the hardest thing I had to keep up with was the dance craze. Learn the twist and it’s out, learn the pony and it’s out, learn the skate and it’s out, the jerk, out, the swim, out, the mashed potatoes, out, the temptation walk, out. God help me I was behind the curve then and I’m really behind the curve now. At least they haven’t changed dances since the sixties. Too busy coming up with all these gadgets you have to be a genius or under fifteen to figure out.
Nevertheless, those were easy times to live in. In those days teachers taught and students learned. The far fewer gang members might have carried a pipe or even a knife but never a gun. And kids played with each other instead of their playstation six. Remember Kick the Can, Red Light Green Light and Hopscotch. In those days the banks actually helped the average person instead of taking away their home equity if not the home itself and jobs. As for TV, we didn’t have to watch inane reality shows. Or seedy televangelists panhandling to maintain an opulent if not decadent life style. Or seedy lawyers plying there dubious ware on local TV ads, while huge pharmaceutical companies deluging you with nationwide ads to buy their obscenely overpriced drugs. Drugs that probably do more harm than good.
You see, those really were the good old days. Put me back in the sixties and let me write. I’ll be happy. Just let me take my laptop, internet, cellphone, SUV, large screen flat panel TV, digital camera and DVD player.