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time has come today

In a couple of hours it will be my birthday. I was born in the early part of the morning, 56 years ago; isn't that amazing? As Methos says, the world was different. Barbarian horsemen galloped across the plains, slaying all who dared dispute their passage. People smoked in theaters. Seriously, they did; the air in public rooms was hazy with smoke, all the time. Ashtrays were built into the arms of chairs in auditoriums, or in the back of the seat in front of you. Driving drunk was funny. People -- both men and women -- thought that women were somewhat deficient in the brains department, though most of them wouldn't have expressed it so baldly. They'd be more comfortable saying that women were temperamentally and intellectually unsuited to demanding careers. African-Americans were Negroes, and if you went to a Catholic school, as I did, there were only a lonely one or two in a class. A surprising number of people could afford to buy houses without going into debt, though the idea of having more than one bathroom, or installing air conditioning, was outlandish and sissified. As were seat belts. A typewriter was the height of communication technology, far beyond most daily interactions. Unless your job or your training required one, you wrote everything in longhand, using the penmanship the nuns taught. (Electric typewriters were a fantastic breakthrough; you no longer had to practically break your fingers hitting each key. But god were they noisy.) "Lesbian" was not a word a lot of people understood, and years later, my mother had to ask me what the "Holocaust" was. Milk came in bottles, the way milk was supposed to; bottles deposited on our back porch, by a man in a white uniform, and when the cream rose to the top in winter my brother and I would eat it with a spoon.

This is the world my parents worked to prepare me to grow up into. It was blue-collar and tightly knit, and I knew fairly early on that I would leave it, though I didn't know then how much of it I could leave. How much the outside world would change.

I suppose to people five hundred years from now, the change won't be that great. Myself, I marvel. As that Bradbury story says, we're all time travelers, if we live long enough. Now if only we didn't have to get older and die to pay for the privilege, it would be pretty wonderful.



( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 19th, 2011 07:14 am (UTC)
Congratulations. :) It's been statistically proved that birthdays are good for you; the more you have, the longer you live. So keep on time-traveling.
Nov. 19th, 2011 07:37 am (UTC)
Happiest of happy birthdays to you. Best wishes for a superlatively delightful year.
Nov. 19th, 2011 09:31 am (UTC)
Happy Birthday from someone who is very close in age to you and remembers that strange other world of the past, albeit from a British perspective. My aunt lived in America but it was as if she lived on another planet and when my grandmother went to visit her in the 1950s she chose to go by boat because transatlantic liners were still the way to travel.
Nov. 19th, 2011 10:33 am (UTC)
Happy Birthday! I'm 57 myself, and remember having to deal with everyone smoking on airplanes. Back when I was 4, we drove from CA to AZ to take my older brother to school. We got a late start and when we got to a place at night where we weren't certain where we were, my Mom had to point the headlights to a street post then get out to see the street name. No transcontinental highway back then. At 5, I remember finding a penny and being thrilled, because in 1959 nobody had any money. All I needed was 6 more, and I could buy a Hostess package of two pink Snowballs. If you wanted to buy something, you saved up the money. The early sixties brought the whole credit card thing. And, of course, when you were at home and didn't feel like talking to anyone, you just let the phone ring -- they'd get back to you if it was important. And getting a letter was a relatively big deal -- no junk mail then. lolol Have a lovely day!
Nov. 19th, 2011 12:45 pm (UTC)
I am 20 years younger than you, but already beginning to perceive how the world turned around me.

I collect 50s mechanical typewriters, mostly Galaxies. They're just so funny (especially the ones that come in their own suitcases). The ones I have don't even have eraser tape; you have to XXX over your errors. Any odd key, like a flying lowercase e or a chipped capital H, will give away to anyone who checks that I'm the one who typed that inflammatory letter-to-the-editor.

I was introduced to the concept of mechanical typewriters at all by way of the archy and mehitabel books, and how archy had to dive-bomb each key from the top of the keyboard to make it actually hit the paper.
Nov. 19th, 2011 01:24 pm (UTC)
OMG, I remember learning to type on a manual typewriter. And then I remember my first IBM selectric with the little ball that spun around instead of keys. It was bright tomato red and I loved it. What a different different world. And milk bottles with the cream on top that I only ever saw at my Grannie's house. That was the most indulgent thing in the world, dipping into that cream. You have really taken me back today. Happy Birthday!
Nov. 19th, 2011 01:57 pm (UTC)
The world I grew up in (I was born forty years ago in Ireland) was very similar to the one you describe. Your post really took me back. :)

I wish you a very happy birthday and a joyful year ahead. ♥

Nov. 19th, 2011 03:10 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday!

And I'm so glad I don't live in an era where people can smoke in the theatre!
Nov. 19th, 2011 03:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, and yes!

Happy Birthday, Junior (by 2 weeks)!

And well said.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 19th, 2011 06:35 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday!
Nov. 19th, 2011 06:41 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday! I'm 18 years younger, but there's already a gap between me and younger people I know, who grew up with the internet and cell phones.
Nov. 19th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
There was a New York Times magazine essay about the new barometer for feeling old, aka how a 28-year-old can feel culturally irrelevant on the Internet. By which I mean, God, who are all these kids on tumblr???

But I work for a 74-year-old woman now, and I never feel so young as when I'm with her. The other day we unearthed an ancient slide projector from her closet and went through slides of her trip to India, back in the 60s. She's an amazing woman, and one of these days I'll blog about those slides...

In other words, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! And may you keep on time traveling. :D
Nov. 19th, 2011 07:28 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday!

May you have a wonderful year and many, many happy returns in a world that continues to surprise you!
Nov. 19th, 2011 08:50 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday! I hope you're able to celebrate in whatever way you like best.
Nov. 19th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday!!
Nov. 19th, 2011 10:19 pm (UTC)
Hope it was a happy one--and that you have many happy healthy more.
Nov. 19th, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
Have a very happy birthday!

Just as interesting as what *has* changed is what *hasn't*. Find a copy of Heinlein's "Door Into Summer" and see what he envisioned being available in the early 2000s (self-cleaning shirts) and what he didn't (the Internet). Quite honestly, if I had a choice between a world with self-cleaning shirts and a world with the Internet, I'm not sure which one I'd pick.
Nov. 20th, 2011 12:42 am (UTC)
Happy birthday! And wow, you've really put the passing of 56 years into perspective.
Nov. 20th, 2011 02:48 am (UTC)
I'm afraid this makes it 20 comments, but can't help that. Happy birthday, dear, and may you be spared to us for many, many more.
Nov. 20th, 2011 02:53 am (UTC)
Also: I like the title reference and the link.
Nov. 20th, 2011 06:41 am (UTC)
Hope you have a great birthday!
Nov. 20th, 2011 07:50 am (UTC)
Happy birthday!

Sometimes I think that remembering a time before the internet, when research was done in libraries via card catalogue, and phones were tethered to a wall, makes me ancient. But the seeds for today's information economy were present in my childhood in nascent form.

I'm glad the "smoke anywhere" culture is mostly gone. My lungs are much happier now.
Nov. 21st, 2011 02:22 pm (UTC)
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )


bald harpist
Jane Bluestocking

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