Welcome to “The Fall of My Life.” This website is dedicated to my family and friends who have supported me through the years. I will soon be a septuagenarian and I have a lived a good life with many interesting and some funny experiences. I plan to share them and things I find interesting as I work on my novels. I hope you will visit often.
The “Spring of My Life” began in Owensboro, Kentucky. My family and I lived a short time there, then in Indiana before settling in Illinois. Born in the 1940’s, growing up in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s was much different from what children experience today. My children and grandchildren have television with hundreds of channels, electronic tables, e-readers, internet videos, computers, and more.
My family had the first color television in our neighborhood. It was about four feet or so tall with a 21 inch screen. We had three channels to watch. Neighbor kids would come over, when my Mother allowed, to watch Saturday morning cartoons. Anyone remember Captain Kangaroo, Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Casper the Friendly Ghost, or The Shirley Temple Show?
Our first phone had a handle to turn to “ring”. We were part of a party line. Each household on the party line was assigned a ring sequence. If you wanted to call someone on your line, you turned the handle in a sequence to generate the proper code for them. An example is two short rings followed by a long ring. We listened each time the phone rang to see if the call was for us. There was no indication that the line was in use. We had to pick up and listen to see if the line was available. There was no privacy. Any party on the line could listen in. The only indication I remember was a change in background noise when someone picked up on my call.
Fortunately, by the time I was old enough to date, we had a rotary phone on a private line. The rotary phone had a dial that had a hole over each number. You put your finger in the hole and rotated it to a mechanical stop before releasing. It generated a different number of electronic pulses for each number that were sent to the switching office. The switching office routed calls based on the pulses received.
We dialed seven digits to call anyone within our area code. Ten digits were used when calling long distance. There was an extra charge for calling long distance. It could be substantial since it was billed by the minute. Area codes were assigned such that houses on one side of a street could be in a different area code from the houses on the other side. There were families just a few blocks away that were long distance to us. Before 411, we called the operator to get someone’s number we didn’t know.
We, my brothers and sister, spent our summers outside. Mom would fix breakfast and shoo us outside where we played with the neighbor kids until lunch. We rode bikes, played ball, hide and seek in the woods and corn fields, or roamed just being kids playing together. After lunch, it was back into the sunshine, sometimes liquid sunshine, until dark. If we were good (lucky), Mom would let us watch television for an hour or two after dinner and before bedtime.
One of my favorite times was the hot summer days when a group of us would go to the creek. The creek, we called streams creeks, was about two miles from my house. Several of us would go down the hill from the elementary school to the bridge over the creek. We would cannonball off the bridge into the water. It was just deep enough that we would softly bounce off the sandy bottom. (No one in my neighborhood had a pool.)
My best friend and I liked to camp out in his back yard. He lived catty-corner from my house. We would gather wood from wherever we found it and burn it as campfires. We laid under the stars and made up stories. Our imaginations ran wild. We fought alien invaders, decided what we would do in case of nuclear war and much more. Our fantasies reflected events of the day. We lived The Cuban Crisis and Cold War with Russia. We had drills at school where we crawled under our desks as something to do should an attack take place. (Probably wouldn’t have saved us but we practiced anyway. My children laughed when I told them this.) Other times, he and I talked about what we hoped for in life. I lost track of him after I left home. I hope he has lived his dreams.
Growing up required interaction with people. Playing outside, going to school, after school events, summer jobs all meant interacting with people. My ‘just me’ time was reading. I was a voracious reader and continue to enjoy a good book.
I tell my grandchildren how it was for me at their age and get back blank stares. How could I have lived without pizza delivery, computers, game systems, streaming video, hundreds of television stations, and cell phones? Wasn’t I bored? My answer is that I was not bored. It was probably the best years of my life before meeting their grandmother and marrying her 42 years ago. I had few cares and a wide open world before me.
If I have brought back memories, I hope you will share them. I would love to hear them.
Wow. Just wow. Some of that I lived through, some I just heard of. We lived with the threat of nuclear war, but they had abandoned the idea of hiding under the desk at school. I was in 3rd grade the first time we had a (rotary) phone on the house.
It sounds like you lived Dandelion Wine.
Earnie, it was a bit like Dandelion Wine. Very small neighborhood where everyone knew everyone. More to come. Thanks for reading.
Nice start! I hope you can do a little in depth into some of these memories.
I remember our first color TV: my dad bought it so he could see the Jets in their first Super Bowl in color. For me it meant finally seeing Speed Racer in color.
Thanks Eric. I have many things that I hope to share. I will be more detailed on future posts as I narrow the focus.
Thanks for reading.
Really makes you think about how much we’ve lost with technology.
I think about the loss often. I was closer to people because I had to engage. Now it is easy to send an email or drop a facebook or tweet instead of calling and actually TALKING. Maybe another post.
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