Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Comprehensive Guide to the Past for Generation Z (those born in the 90's), Part Uno

Gather 'round kids. Aunt Kelly is going to tell you a tale. 

Over the weekend my bff & I were talking and perhaps it was the box of Red Delicious that was making us a bit reflective, but she mentioned how kids these days don't appreciate going out to dinner like we did when we were little. That sparked a rant on my part about cell phones and how much I hate texting in the work place which went on and on till we were distracted by something else then couldn't remember what we were talking about (it happens.) We decided that there is a whole generation of young people who know absolutely nothing about us or where we came from. Most of them are really great humans, they're just totally clueless.

So kids, and by kids I mean "Everyone Younger Than 30 But ESPECIALLY Those Who Are in Their Late Teens And Early Twenties" the following post is for you.

Back in the day (every old codger starts their stories like that, it's in the Old Codger Handbook), before computers were found in every household (GASP!) we used to go to a place to look things up called the "Library."  Libraries were awesome places that looked like Barnes & Noble only they smelled funny, there was no coffee barista, and you didn't have to pay to take the books, they were free.

There was a lady who worked there called a "Librarian" which means she was not a Democrat or a Republican. The Librarian believed in two things: Being Quiet, and Being Orderly. When you were in the library you tiptoed around and tried not to make any noise. That meant no talking. If a librarian would have caught you talking or texting on your cell phone (which never happened because they weren't invented yet) she would have confiscated it and thrown it in the Raystown Lake. Cause you didn't mess with the Librarian. And your parents wouldn't have called her up whining about it either. Back then parents left you run free and if you got in trouble you were on your own.

If you were at the library and wanted to find a book, you went to the "card catalog" which was a big wooden box with a million recipe cards in it. The recipe cards didn't have recipes on them though, they had the names of all the books in the whole library. You had to use your fingers (those things you text with) to manually (that means by hand, not by computer, cause there were no computers back then either) thumb through each card till you found the name of the book you were looking for. They were listed in alphabetical order because the Librarian believed in Order. THEN you had to go to wherever in the library the card told you to go to find that particular book, leading you in a scavenger hunt to find the "H" shelves.

There was a whole system for book filing and finding invented by Dewey Decimal, who was very popular with the Librarian Party and raised a lot of money lobbying for them. He later fell from grace when he was charged with unleashing the bookworms that sparked the Great Bookworm Pandemic of 1945. Chaos ensued as the little devils chewed through hundreds of books before they were caught by Agnes, the librarian at that particular library who tried to contain them with ether before she herself succumbed to the fumes. Agnes would have been alright but when she passed out, her lit cigarette accidently ignited the Overdue Book List and caught the place on fire. (Back then it was alright to smoke in public. See what your missing kids?) It was all downhill from there with firemen and police and flaming bookwarms running amuck.
But I digress. Enough about Agnes.

Let us move on to other things you have no clue about.  Cassette Tapes. These were played in "cassette players" or "boom boxes." Boom boxes were about the size of a labrador retriever. You carried them on your shoulder with Madonna singing "Like A Virgin" at top volume. They ran on 27 size D batteries. Or you could plug them in the wall if you didn't lose the cord upon purchase. Batteries were cooler though cause you couldn't walk down the street very far if you chose to plug it in. However, the con to using batteries was that they only lasted about an hour, maybe two if you were listening to the radio instead of a cassette and just buying batteries alone would literally bankrupt teens who would then have no money left to buy new tapes with, forcing them to make horrible mix tapes off the radio complete with d.j. interruptions.

A storebought cassette by an actual artist, such as Eddie Money or Duran Duran, had a Side A and a Side B. One side had about 5 songs on it. When those songs ended, you opened up the tape deck, took out the tape, flipped it over and played the other side which usually contained about 7 songs instead of 5. I don't know why.

One of the cassette tape's biggest problems was the tape itself. It would get "eaten" by your stereo and you'd have to spend hours fishing it out without breaking the tiny tissue paper-esque tape. The result looked like a mound of brown Easter grass. Once you got the tape out of the implement that had eaten it, you had to spend the next two days manually (remember that word from earlier?) winding the crinkled tape back into the cassette. If you were crafty you stuck a pencil in the winding hole and twirled the pencil. If you didn't have a pencil you had to use your finger which was no fun cause the spokes on the winding wheel would poke you and it took way longer.

Cassettes were the predecessor to the CD which I realize is now outdated. And before the cassettes we had "records" which were like huge black cd's that you put on a "turn table" or "record player" and played by asking your Dad because he could smell you looking at the turn table and if you even thought about using the record player by yourself he would yell from elsewhere in the house "DON'T TOUCH THAT- YOU'LL SCRATCH THE RECORD!!"

Record scratching was followed by paddling which is something else that may be foreign to you. Because back in the day, parents would grab their kid and whack them on the butt if they didn't listen. Time Out hadn't been invented yet and I still question its effectiveness.

And since I've been informed that you all have short attention spans, I will stop here. But there will be more to come. Feel free to comment at will or even better, share me with your friends. There are Facebook, Twitter, etc. buttons at the top left of the screen and also at the bottom. Click on it. I'm ready to go global.

1 comment:

dkgriffith said...

that so took me back, oh i feel so old for saying that