I grew up without air conditioning, but the houses and commercial buildings were built differently. They had huge windows, several feet of roof overhang, floors raised up off the ground, high ceilings, screened porches, you didn’t turn on the lights during the day unless you needed them for a certain task or safety, and on the hottest days we had fans.
None of the schools I went to had air conditioning until my senior year in high school when they built a new library and put air conditioning in the library to protect the books. The students’ comfort was not even considered.
Now we live, work and shop in air conditioned comfort. It is unusual to be in a house or building that is not air conditioned. If I ever get the chance to build a cabin or small house, I hope to make it as energy independent as possible and not have to depend on air conditioning to be comfortable most days.
Back in the day, listening to radio was how I heard my music. There was a radio in the kitchen of my parent’s home, and a radio in each of our cars. When I was about 9 years old I was given a small transistor radio as a Christmas gift from my dad, along with a story of how he had to make his own radio from bits and pieces of wire and metal that he scrounged from work sites near where he played, and he used his own saved up money to buy the transistor tubes from a hardware store. The tubes and wires and a little cogged dial were housed in a 3″ x 5″ metal index card file box.
When I turned 13 I got an actual record player. It wasn’t even stereo. It came in a little cardboard box with a brass latch that looked like a piece of luggage that was popular in those days. It had a hinged lid and the turntable had three speeds: 78, 45, and 33. I don’t think I ever used the 78 setting but I used the 45 setting almost every day. In the early days, music was sold on 45 rpm singles, with a hit song on the “A” side and a song that no one really like much as a “B” side. If you were very lucky, your single was by someone that actually had a second hit worth listening to on the “B” side. That was usually someone really big, like Elvis or the Beatles.
Years later we bought 8 track tapes, then cassette tapes which played in stereo. Eventually the music business came into the digital world and you could buy CDs. But now, it is all about digital downloads onto iPods and listening online.
The best part of the downloads is that you can buy only the exact songs that you like and want – no more forcing consumers to buy a “B” side or a whole album of 10 songs when all you wanted was one song. That is what has the music industry screaming about how they aren’t making money anymore, but in my opinion, they were riding the gravy train for 40 years and now it is like it should have been all along – buying the one you want and not being forced to buy ones that you don’t want.
Everyone in my generation learned to read maps somehow. It wasn’t something taught is school. We had to learn this important life skill from our parents or maybe from Boy Scouts or in the miitary. I think if you went into the military and did not already know how to read a map you might have been at a huge disadvantage with the others there for training, but maybe i’m wrong about that.
I learned to read maps from my dad. We always went on road trips during summer vacations. It was nothing to load us kids up in the family Chevy wagon and head out to the beach or the mountains. Lots of times we didn’t have a reservation at a motel, we just headed out and took our chances that we would find something that looked good and had a room for us.
Now the cell phones and cars all have GPS units and we don’t have to really read maps any longer. I wonder if that is going to make reading maps an obsolete skill? If we can rely on GPS to get us to the destination, what’s the point in having paper maps any longer? Do we even need a compass any longer?
This month and the rest of this year I will be using a telescope and learning about the night sky with my sister’s son. She found a used telescope for sale at one of those thrift stores that she like to haunt and bought if for the kid. Of course, neither she nor my nephew know anything at all about telescopes or astronomy. So she calls me up and asks me to come over a couple of times and show them how to use the telescope.
Now, I had a telescope as a kid and kept it on the balcony outside of my bedroom. I had a great view of the Potomac River from my bedroom and only one tree in the backyard that could block my view. I got my telescope for Christmas from my dad, after we both did a lot of research into the different types of telescopes and shopping hard for the best price. Of course, I knew in advance what the Christmas gift was going to be, but the cool thing is that it was EXACTLY what I wanted!
So, tomorrow night I’m heading over to her house. The least she can do is fix me a free dinner for spending a couple of hours over there. Although she is not a good cook. I don’t think she knows how to do anything but open a can of Chef Boyardi and plop it in a bowl so she can microwave it for 60 seconds. So, on second thought, I’ll order a pizza for delivery to her house and at least I know I’ll be fed while I do my uncle duties with the telescope.