It’s a new year and to me that always means remembrance and celebration.
My recent reminiscing began with a wonderful story about my long ago relative whom I’ll call Aunt Effy. She was present when President Lincoln’s train stopped in Pennsylvania and actually stood there and waved to the man!
I have a friend who likes to say, “nothing new under the sun.” What she means is, what seems new often has a long history preceding it. That led me to looking back at the 60s, 70s and 80s eras which pioneered so many things we take for granted today.
Take, for instance, our fancy schmancy technology. We’re all familiar with Amazon, the online shopping power house, but let me brag about being part of the generation that created the prototypes of today’s internet and computers which made online shopping possible.
Thanks to my teacher Mr. Schoenwolf, I learned the ins and outs of the Commodore computer. And we were among the first generation to play digitally-based games like Atari and the electronic game Simon, which was based on memory skills card games.
Video – now there’s a concept that was absolutely foreign to me when the hype about “music videos” started in the early 80s. I couldn’t understand what the term meant until one glorious day in August of 1981 when I watched an astronaut plant the MTV flag on the moon and “Video Killed the Radio Star” ushered me into the world of music television. Of course, prior to the MTV explosion we listened to forerunners of those television VJs and radio DJs: Wolfman Jack and Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown.
iPod, MP3, Bluetooth...let me introduce you to the Walkman portable cassette player. Walk and listen to record albums? Genius.
Let’s switch gears and talk zip codes: They weren’t always mandatory! Like everything else, before it became a regular habit, including a zip code took some getting used to. That’s why an agency created a TV commercial with an obnoxious talking mailbox that would spit back letters if they didn’t include the zip code and then throw them back announcing, “Don’t forget the zip code!”
In the 70s, when the problems of pollution and littering were brought to our attention, a famous public service announcement from the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign appeared on television and across billboards. I was guilted into never littering again as I watched the teardrop felt across America drip from the eye of a Native American Indian who witnessed trash being carelessly tossed from a car onto the land at his feet.
I recall other astonishing inventions and stunning events like when the first Boeing 747 took flight, and when Apollo 13 returned safely with all its passengers.
There was the first “test tube” baby, conceived by a revolutionary procedure called in vitro fertilization. Millions of people have that medical miracle to thank for their existence.
In this new year that will no doubt be filled with unending selfies, Instagrams and hashtags, to all those from the 60s, 70s and 80s who helped create and advance our life and times, I raise my index and pinky fingers in hand horns to you. Rock on with your bad selves!
Innovative and amazing things will continue to be created, then integrated, as we make our way to the next level. But let’s not miss “now” before we go looking for the next “new.”