Understanding a new generation

Published 4:38 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My grandson is nine years old and will live a much different life than his granddaddy. Naturally I wouldn’t want to trade generations with him. I have enjoyed mine and he seems to be enjoying his, thanks to his wonderful daddy and momma.

There are times, though, when I like to think of the differences in our lives. There are experiences that I have had that he will not have and would not even be able to understand.

For instance, Cam will find it impossible to understand a time when there was no McDonald’s Happy Meal. In fact, I could tell Cam that I don’t even remember eating out until Daddy, my brother, and I took some cotton to the gin in Meigs and the line of trucks was long. Daddy sent us up to the café to get hamburgers. I’ve had Happy Meals, but they have never made me feel as happy as those café hamburgers. Toys didn’t come with the hamburgers.

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I could never convince Cam that when I grew up, there were no Walmart stores. There was a Hand Trading Company in Pelham and it claimed to take care of every need from the cradle to the grave. It was our Walmart of the day, only more.

Cam lives in Syracuse and has already seen Niagara Falls, New York City, vacationed in the Caribbean, and Disney World is as familiar to him as the peanut patch was to me. I wonder if he would understand that by the time I was nine, I had been to Thomasville, Albany, and Moultrie…all in Georgia, of course.

As we look at 100 television channels and work a remote that has almost infinite possibilities, I could tell him about the first television we bought. It had no color picture and the tubes had to warm up before the picture would come on. Remote? Forget it. We only got two channels and someone had to get out of their comfortable chair to change the channels from one to the other.

We had cars but they had no air conditioning. We would ride with the windows down and, by the way, Cam, there was a handle that had to be turned to roll the window up or down. When we needed gasoline, we just pulled up to a station and someone came out and put the gasoline in for us.

Not only did they put the gasoline in, they also lifted the hood, checked the oil and other things under there. They also washed our windshields. Those places were called “service” stations, not “fillin’” stations.

I might notice that Cam has a cellphone. It goes right over his head, but I could tell him when telephones were one color…black and attached to cords. They had rotary dials.

I don’t think I could explain a rotary dial. Could you?

Here is something that would really blow Cam’s mind. We had electricity. I mean after all, I’m not that old! But, the lights in our house did not have a wall switch to turn them on and off. There was a string attached to the light and when we wanted to turn the light on, we pulled the string down. Turn the light off? Pull the string again. Funny how that worked.

I have thought that I could imagine my Daddy’s world. It was different, but not so much. When I think about Cam and his trying to understand my world, that’s a little more difficult. What’s really crazy, though, is me trying to understand his!