Good Old Fashioned

A glance at the kitchen clock told me that if Arnie was on schedule, he would be in the house looking for supper soon. I glanced into a kettle and gave the stroganoff a stir. It looked perfect. Carrying the pot of cooked noodles to the sink, I tipped it to drain the water. Steam clouded the evening-darkened kitchen window.

The slam of the front door signaled my husband’s arrival. I had another five minutes before he’d be done washing in the bathroom. Our two daughters also having heard the door slam, ran screaming to the entrance to greet Daddy. Hearing them chatter about their day made me smile as I poured bright orange carrots into a serving dish.

Arnie came into the kitchen just as I placed a frosted cake on the counter next to the table. Tammie, aged four and Niki, aged eight tumbled into their places at the table. Niki blurted, “Daddy has a surprise for us.”

Smiling, Arnie said, “I had some business in town today. Before coming home to start chores, I stopped to look at television video tape recorders. I ended up buying one. I’ll set it up later after milking the cows.”

Not sure we needed a television video tape player, I nodded and answered doubtfully, “Okay..”

Later that evening Arnie brought two boxes into the living room and immediately went to work. The larger box held a sleek black device which he connected to the backside of our television with wires. From the smaller box he pulled out a few video cassette tapes.

Like a magician on stage, my husband demonstrated how to record and play back a television show. He proudly pointed out, “If there’s a show on that you really like, but can’t be home to watch, you can record it and watch it later!” I was amazed and impressed.

Next, Arnie pulled out a tape that had a movie on it and set it to play. He exclaimed, “We can watch these movies whenever we want!” Excited, the children jumped up and down and cheered.

While watching the movie he’d brought home for us, Arnie confessed, “I’ve been hearing about video tape players and was curious. The salesman said there were two types of players for me to choose between, VHS and Betamax. That’s what we have. He said Beta had a better picture quality, plus it would be around for a long time.”

As I remember that conversation from over thirty years ago, I have often wondered if that salesman’s nose grew long like Pinocchio’s. Within a few years, it became harder to find Beta tapes. Eventually video stores switched entirely over to VHS tapes.

Technology is evolving very quickly. By the time you bring home a new computer and set it up, a better model with larger memory, newer and more amazing capabilities is already on the production line at the factory.

Just because your old computer is obsolete, doesn’t mean you have to get rid of it. If your Commodore from 1976 is still serving your needs, keep using it. It probably was made sturdy enough to last the entire 21st century. However, if you ever want to copy information from your Commodore onto a CD or flash drive, you’ll need to upgrade. Floppy disks, once the preferred information storage method, are hard to find these days.

Appliances and other household equipment don’t last as long as when I was a child. The wringer wash-machine and the small, round-shouldered Frigidaire refrigerator that my mother owned would probably be still working today, if they hadn’t been unplugged and replaced.

I’ve wondered if rapidly evolving technology has influenced manufacturing. Are all things manufactured to be disposable these days?

Arnie and I bought a very fancy television 27 years ago. Back then, televisions were large pieces of furniture with beautiful, ornate cabinets. I displayed a nativity set and other seasonal decorations on its spacious top. That good, old-fashioned television was like a faithful friend, always working and never having a single problem.

In some languages, one word can be used to convey several different meanings. It is in the inflection of the speaker’s voice that changes the connotation.

The other night I turned the television on and it said, “Poof!”

The television’s inflection when it said, “poof!” made me clearly understand that it meant, “I quit!”





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