Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Times They Are A Changing

It was 1963 when Bob Dylan wrote the song referenced in this post's title, and the 47 years that have passed since he first penned those words have made the guy look like a modern day prophet. I feel like a relic when my kids ask what movies I liked when I was a kid and I tell them I don't have a list- the only option for seeing movies was to go to a theater and we lived miles from the nearest city big enough to have one. There were no video players, pay channels or iTunes to watch the newest release on, which worked out fine since there was no such thing as a new release anyway. Not only that, but, horror of horrors, in 1963 we still had a black and white television set. It wasn't until two years later that we upgraded our operating system to a color set, which I might add rivalled some of the larger new flat screen TVs in terms of overall size since its miniscule screen was housed in a box big enough to double as a coffin should the need ever arise.

In 1963 if you wanted to listen to Mr. Dylan's new song you had two choices. You could buy the vinyl record and hope the needle on your record player didn't need replacing, or you could listen on your tinny sounding radio hoping to hear it by chance. By the time I was in my late teens things had advanced considerably and cassette tapes were all the rage. Of course, that technology has now been replaced by downloading from the computer directly to a listening device such as an iPod. My kids have literally thousands of songs loaded onto their devices, and I must confess this perplexes me. How do these children of mine- the same ones who can't figure out whose night it is for dishes or where we keep the shoe rack in our house- keep track of thousands of songs?

The first computer to enter the Hammond house was an Apple 2C sometime in the late 80s. It was another decade and several computers later before the Internet made its appearance in our home. Prior to that if you wanted to know something you looked it up in the dictionary or the encyclopedia. These used to be actual books with pages, and we still have the old blue leather set of World Books in our living room. The only time they have been used in the past decade was a few months ago when Rebekah and her boyfriend Anton had them out reading and laughing over outdated entries.

And that brings me to what, in many ways, has been for me the biggest change of all since 1963. I grew up as a child of the Cold War, and have very vivid memories of being afraid the Russians were going to attack us at any time. We lived relatively near to two prime targets should an attack ever happen- Fairchild Air Force base, at that time home to nuclear bomb carrying B-52 bombers, and the Hanford Nuclear facility, which produced the plutonium that went into the bombs on those planes, so my fears were not totally unfounded.

If you had told me in my growing up years of the 60s and 70s that some day the Berlin Wall would come down, that we would be able to adopt a child from previously communist Romania, that I would have a daughter travel to Russia on a mission trip, that one of my sons would marry a young woman from China, or that one of my daughters would date a guy from Russia I would have said your ideas were more far-fetched than the plot of the latest John Le Carre novel.

I am glad to say I would have been wrong. All these things and many more have come to pass over the past two decades. On a global scale there have certainly been many changes, but these are generally not the things that make me sit up and take notice. Rather, it is what I see and experience in my own house that often times leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. Like this past Thanksgiving weekend when I went upstairs to ask Anton if he wanted to play a game of Scrabble. I paused at the door to his room when I heard he was talking to someone and was startled when I realized the conversation was in Russian. (He was using Skype on his computer to talk to his parents in Toronto. ) It should not have been a surprise- I clearly know he speaks Russian, and I know that is the language he uses when conversing with his parents. So no, the surprise was not that he was speaking Russian. It was in the fact that our world has changed so much from the Cold War world of my youth that such a thing could be possible in my own home. The times they are a changing.....and for this I am thankful.


  1. I love this post.

    I am a little younger - a child of the 70s and 80s, but I know so much has changed even since then. For me though it is more about technology, by the time I became truly globally aware we had glasnost, the wall was coming down and people were clamoring for the eventual release of mandela.

  2. Somehow my dad nursed his B&W Philco through the start of the '80's. I'm not sure how old it was, but stores stopped carrying the vacuum tubes he needed to keep it going. I remember seeing movies listed in the newspaper and thinking, "Oh boy! In 5 or 6 years I can watch that on tv." We had theaters near by, but almost never went. Why spend the money when we could watch for free in a few years? hahaha!

    It's nice how the world has gotten smaller. I like to think that ignorance is shrinking along with it, proportionately. That may be lagging slightly, but it will catch up.

    I can't figure out how I missed this post earlier in the week. It wasn't on my blogroll, then it was, but not among the newer posts.

    Hope you have a nice weekend!

  3. I have just found your blog from Jean's. I grew up in a home with no electricity - so no fridge, no hoover, no tv - until I was ten. We read books - or I did. I was struck by your no mobiles rule for Thanksgiving. We recently entertained relatives in their 70s who we see rarely. At supper, texts from their grandchildren arrived and were answered, at the the table, on the grounds that "Etiquette requires that I respond." Not in my book it dooesn't.