While it’s not true that I was born during the Lincoln Administration those of you that have read my previous postings know that I do go back many, many years. Back to a time that could be considered pre-historic in terms of electronics possessed in today’s society. If today’s young people consider the norm as having like 97 inch 3-D color TVs, and desktops, laptops, I-Pads, I-Pods, I-Phones, digital cameras and a host of other electronic gear, picture a time in the the not too distance past when none of that existed.
In my earliest memories as a child, the only thing electronics in our apartment were light bulbs, a radio, and a telephone. Our home entertainment came solely from the radio. My earliest memories were of listening to the Lone Ranger on the radio as he shouted “Hi ho Silver, away” to the stirring rendition of the William Tell Overture. (It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I discovered that the William Tell Overture was not expressly written for the Lone Ranger.) With his faithful companion Tonto, his great white horse Silver, and his exclusive use of only silver bullets, and then only to wound, not kill the villains, the Lone Ranger was certainly an inspiration to impressionable little kids like me that didn’t know any better.
Other radio programs of that era were “The Green Hornet,” “The Shadow”( “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows” was the creepy intro to that show), and “Duffy”s Tavern, Where the Elite Meet to Eat.” Since these shows were during the late Depression, on Duffy’s Tavern, if you bought a nickel beer, you got to chow down at the free lunch counter. I have often wondered about the great quality of food that must have been presented to you free for a 5 cent beer.
I think the concept of the getting a free lunch especially in politics must have originated with shows like Duffy’s Tavern. Today most people are looking for “free lunches” from federal, state, and local governments in the form of a multitude of social benefits, but are unwilling to pay for them with adequate tax rates. This is why we have mind-boggling deficits. Not only in this country but around the world. Look at Greece.
Anyway back to the subject at hand. After Word War II in the late 1940s television made it’s appearance on the national scene but of course there was no resemblance to modern day TV. The earliest TVs were black and white and had this “gigantic” 13-inch screen. There were only 3 channels (NBC, ABC, and CBS) they were only on part of the day, I think from about mid-afternoon to around 10-11 at night. After that there was nothing but a color pattern. Early TV shows were Milton Berle (which was basically slapstick comedy left over from Vaudeville) and some children shows.
These were of course, pre-computer days when all business was conducted by hand-written ledgers. I remember my father getting paid from his job every Friday with bills and coins in a small brown envelop. It would be like $79.42 after taxes. Of course our only expenses then were food, rent, electricity and telephone, and sometimes some clothes. Times seemed so simple then and the rough edges of society seemed so much more smoothened down.
So the the question has to be asked are we really a better or happier people with the revolution in electronics. Are our children in a better place, has society evolved to a higher plane, and is there more compassion and empathy for our fellow man. Or as George H. W. Bush once put it, have we achieved a kinder, gentler society. Unfortunately, it often appears to me that our wisdom to improve the way we live cannot keep pace with our abilities to achieve technological advancements, including developments of weapons-of-mass destruction.
Don’t get me wrong, I like today’s electronics as much as the next guy. But more than a few times I miss not being able to “return to those stirring days of yesteryear, with a mighty hi-ho Silver, away,” and the William Tell Overture.