I was thinking the other day of how the world has changed in the relatively short time I've trod upon it. There are so many little tiny things that were once such a part of our psyche that are now gone. Perhaps it's just me, but it sort of saddens me that there are things that people under 30 will likely never experience.
For what it's worth, here's a short list of the kinds of things I'm talking about, in no particular order. Feel free to add.
The smell of petroleum based charcoal lighter wafting thru the neighborhood on summer evenings. This used to DOMINATE the atmosphere. With the prevalence of gas grills and chimney starters, today we do have better food, but that Pavlovian trigger that it's summer, steaks are on and friends are on their way is being phased out.
The sound of change tinkling into the collection basket in Church. This really had no particular effect on me, but I realized recently that you just don't hear it anymore. It was kind of a happy sound.
Shaking milk. As we get further and further from generations who remember un-homogenized milk, this somewhat silly practice will fade from the collective repertoire.
Tube testers in every drug or hardware store. I was always fascinated by these devices.
The piles of returnable bottles at grocery stores. Also, the ability to, with a little hard work and determination, collect enough returnable bottles to get enough money to buy whatever you wanted. I remember there was a hardware store in a small town in Indiana where we would go to visit family. My sister and I discovered that the Coke machine in the back of the store would dispense a 6.5 ounce bottle for a dime. At the grocery store up the street, you could get a dime for returning the bottle. Maybe it was a nickel, but whatever the amount, the price of the soda and the bottle refund were the same, so there was an unlimited supply of the delicious (and parentally forbidden) nectar for a tiny one time investment.
Static. Time was, this white noise was a regular part of radio listening. With digital tuners, music on demand, CD's and Ipods it occurred to me recently that I haven't heard static in years.
Fuses. These little marvels of safety engineering used to be as necessary as light bulbs for day to day life. I recently traveled back to another small Midwestern town for a funeral. The obligatory reception afterwards was at the home of the family matriarch, a home that has remained largely unchanged for most of her 50+ years of residence there. Two recent changes have been the addition of a window air conditioner and a microwave oven, both in the kitchen and plugged into the same circuit. I'd found a quiet place to hide in the corner of the kitchen, as this wasn't my family and I frankly wanted to stay out of the way. As the crowd grew and the June heat intensified, the new AC unit was switched on. A short time later, having no more room on the stove, someone decided to heat something in the microwave. Seconds later as we all sat in darkness, someone was dispatched to the basement with a box of fuses and a hail of instructions. The once familiar exchange began, with muffled shouts from the basement being relayed to the kitchen by a chain of family members. "Is that it?" "No, still off" "That one?" "Noooo" "Damnit, the batteries in the flashlight went dead, bring me some more!" "Hang on, joe's got a lighter..."
And so on, until the power was restored and the offending parties were admonished for daring to run more than one electrical device at the same time.
That's all for now. I'll just add that I'm about to turn 45, so by modern standards I'm still a pup. I'm just amazed at how much things have changed.