When I was in grade school, our next door neighbor was in his late 90's. I loved to talk with him, and we started talking about the changes that were taking place for me, going to high school soon. I had commented that I was looking forward to learning about computers. He nodded. Soon he looked up from his weeding. (I was helping, a bit, by putting the weeds in a bucket. He never wanted me to weed. Why, I don't know.)
"I remember primary school. We had slates and chalk. I was so proud when I graduated and received a pen and a watch." I asked him about high school and college. He said, as I remember, he'd gone to high school for a little bit, then had to go to work, because of the depression... (And as I later found out, this was the depression in the late 1800's, not the 1920's one...)
A later conversation I remember, I was telling him about Dad teaching me to drive. He mused for a moment, and told me he'd learned to drive in the military, that he'd driven carriages, and ridden horses before that. And that he was a bit happier about cars than horses, they were a bit less cantankerous.
He asked what I was studying. I mentioned my classes, and that I was hoping to become either a teacher, or perhaps work on getting more into sciences, and become an astronaut. He frowned, one of the very few times I had ever seen him do so. "That rocket silliness. A waste of time and money. If you want to study science, why not study for something HERE," pointing at the garden, "and not waste time with this space nonsense."
Um... Oh. (This was about the time of the first space shuttle launch, and I was hooked. I had set my alarm for 4 am, so I could watch the first launch on TV.) Well, we can't all agree on everything...
As time went on, I learned gardening tricks from him, went to college, and told him of my adventures and agonies of growing up. He listened, and told me of his. I wish now, that I had a recorder of some sort. He told me of the times when he was a child, what he'd played at, what he did for work, how he'd grown.
Now I look at my goddaughter, and my niece and nephew, and think how different my life is from the ones they have. It doesn't bother me, but I find the change interesting. My growing up was with computers being a new, exotic thing. I felt like I had the world by the tail, as I had a (10 inch, black and white, four local stations) TV and a computer (Commadore 64) in my room, when I was in high school. The TV was only allowed on after homework was finished, and on weekends. The computer was for homework typing first, but then I could play games on it. I was given a bit more leeway with the computer because I was interested in computer languages, and was trying to learn programming. I also for one special birthday, received a special stereo, with cassette player, 8 track, and record player, which I still have. Guess what, I don't have to pay much for the cassettes and 8 tracks anymore.
If I can find them...
I went to the library for books, I used pen and paper a lot, computer occasionally for classes, but usually only the ones that wanted typed papers. Mom let me use her Royal manual typewriter for the instructors that didn't like the dot matrix printout. (I had a hard time with her typewriter, so I liked the computer better.) Dad said he wrote with fountain pens in grade school.
My niece and nephew use Google and Wikipedia for the lion's share of info. They use smart phones which are computer, phone, camera, and who knows what all... They have the option of the whole world for information, online. Black and white TV's aren't even made anymore, and a Commadore 64... Well, 64 bits. Um, I think my computer has several GIGs of space. Going from the proverbial log cabin to a McMansion. They will have even more powerful computers, unless I miss my guess.
Maybe someday in the future I will talk to the next door neighbor child, and tell them what it was like back in the day.
And let them put weeds in the bucket.