The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Columns

January 19, 2013

Jim Bailey: Communication was a different ballgame back in the old days

In an era when it seems as if everyone in the world is wired and in communication with everyone else, old-timers recall when it was a whole different ballgame.

If you carried a gizmo of any sort with you, it was more likely a watch – probably a pocket watch. My first pocket watch cost a whole $3.99, I think. You had to wind the stem to keep it running. My second watch was stolen about a week after I got it, removed from its chain connected to my pocket knife on my classroom desk while I was a phys ed.

Kids spent their after-school hours playing outdoors. Parents didn’t seriously worry about their kids being harmed out in public, although they preferred to know where their kids were at all times. Occasionally someone disappeared or was snatched somewhere, but we didn’t hear about it instantly the way we do now with Amber alerts and such.

If we were wanted at home, we were summoned by a yell or a whistle (Mom had a referee’s-type whistle since her pucker was less proficient) or told to get home by the time the street lights came on.

Cellular technology was a futuristic dream. Most homes had a single land-line telephone, usually on a party line. If the party we called wasn’t home, we got no answer. We didn’t know who was calling until we heard the voice at the other end. If we needed to call home, we looked for a phone booth, and we’d better have a nickel to pay for the call.

Most kids walked to school in those days. If they lived too far away to walk they took a bus if they were lucky enough to have one running their neighborhood. Until it got too cold, the doors and windows of all the schools were wide open. If a parent or someone else with business at the school wanted to visit they just walked in and quietly contacted the teacher or administrator or student they wanted to see without disturbing the educational process more than necessary. The idea of someone committing mayhem in a school building was the farthest thing from everyone’s mind.

For more sophisticated communication there was the telegraph office. Western Union telegrams came on yellow sheets of paper with the message pasted on strips laid across the page. As for written communication, people actually sent letters. There was even a phenomenon called a round robin letter in which longtime friends would forward communiqués from everyone in the loop to the next person on the list.

The primary form of entertainment was radio. Later television supplanted the audio medium. And most kids went to the movies on Saturday afternoons.

Who would have dreamed about today’s Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging, and that the e-mail phenomenon would already be obsolescent?

Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by email at jameshenrybailey@earthlink.net.

1
Text Only
Columns
Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Do you think the community places a high enough value on education?

Yes
Somewhat
No
Not sure
     View Results