2015 Day 6: Welcome to the 1950’s Technology Explosion (not)

I spent the 1950’s growing up in Marietta, Georgia.  As I have said before, it was a simpler time for everyone-especially children.  From Labor Day to the week of Memorial Day, children went to school.  We had few holidays.  For the first few years, I could actually go home for lunch. That was terrific, I thought.  During the summer, children went to the reading program at the local library and took Red Cross swimming lessons at local pools. Boys got to play baseball.  Girls got to watch. Girls did NOT play sports when I was a child.  I was happy my Dad and Mother let me have a bike.

Technology was limited.  Really limited. In fact, the word technology may not have even existed at that time.  Really!  There was NO Twitter.  NO Google.  NO cell phones.  NO internet……..I could go on and on about what we did not have.  Instead I will focus on what we did have that just might-and I mean just might relate to the concept of technology.

We had telephones.  You are probably saying-DUH.  Our telephone looked exactly like this—-


The actual phone was made of some hard black material.  Later-much later-they were a hard black plastic.  Please notice that the cord is just a cord.  It is not a stretchy cord.  It has a rotary dial.  Our earliest telephone number was 5 digits.  I still know it! Our phone was in the kitchen.  We had ONE phone.  If someone called, you talked to them in the kitchen.  You couldn’t go elsewhere.  The cord did not even allow you to stretch to the doorway and secure some privacy.  Of course, privacy for children was ridiculous!  Kids rarely talked on the phone. Instead you walked to someone’s house and talked to them on their porch.  When you wanted to call long distance, you called the operator and she did the tough stuff of connecting you.  People rarely talked long distance.  We wrote letters instead. With ink pens.  On writing paper which you put in an envelope and used a stamp to guarantee delivery.   This phone is a long distance from the smart phone I have now.

When I was 10, I received a transistor radio. WOW! I was SO excited! I had made all A’s and this was my reward from my parents.  My radio looked exactly like the picture below except mine was turquoise colored. Turquoise was a BIG color in the 1950’s.

transistor radio

My radio was AM.  That was it.  It ran on batteries.  I could carry it anywhere I wanted to go.  There was no guarantee that I could actually receive the radio signals.  The big radio station in our area was actually close enough to our house that I could walk there.  They had programs like preaching on Sunday, ball games on Friday nights and music at other times.  The music had words you could understand and actually spell.  There was no profanity.  They came on generally at 7am and “left” the airways at midnight.  They had news every hour just like today.  But the news was less graphic.  And most times, the big news from other countries took a few days to get to us via the radio or even the newspaper.  No one was “instantly”  or “constantly” in touch unless you were sharing the same swing on the front porch or in the backyard.

So you may be thinking how awful it was to be without cell phones, computers or the internet. Well, I have news for you.  We talked to people in person.  Real conversations.  We had dinner together without watching television or checking Facebook or our email.  We wrote real letters on paper-not on the computer.  We read books that we had to turn the papers ourselves.  We were off the  grid and life was good!