What was life like before (take your pick)?



At age 77 I am able to remember what life was like before a lot of the things we take for granted today—as many people my age can.

When I was a small child there were no television sets. We had radios and sometimes record players that played 78 rpm records. Movies and radio were our sources of entertainment and news, but since there were no communications satellites, news from abroad usually came via short wave radio, or we read newspapers and magazines. I read a lot as I grew up. My entertainment was the town library–almost my second home.

Transportation has changed. Airlines didn’t have jets, so airliners were mostly propeller-driven. (My first airplane ride was on a DC-3!) Well into the 1950s passenger trains went almost everywhere, and where they didn’t go there were buses if you didn’t want to take a car.

America’s best highways were the US Highways, which were usually paved two-lane roads. Sometimes near big cities they went up to four lanes. Of course, there was no Internet and there were no home computers. Some homes might have had typewriters, but mostly we wrote things longhand. We didn’t have digital calculators.

In the America of the 1950s nearly everyone went to church at least every Sunday.

Things changed. Looking back, they didn’t seem all that significant at the time, but they were. Television changed our living rooms and our family lives. Our old record players went from 78 rpm to 33 1/3 rpm long-play albums and 45 rpm singles, and then stereo. We went from vinyl records to 8-track tape, then cassettes, and then CDs and now it’s digital recordings.

Interstate highways transformed America. Communication satellites connected the world, and then came personal computers and the Internet. Has life become better? In many ways it has. Into the 1950s polio was a child killer. It’s pretty much gone now, thanks to vaccines. We are healthier, better entertained and better informed than we ever were before.But are we happier? That’s another question. I personally think if we kept God in our lives and enjoyed our blessings we could have become happier. But did we? That’s still another question. I can’t answer it, but maybe you can. Are you happier?

WARREN DOMKE is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express.

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