Back in the rotary dial days

By TIM BEELAND,

Forty years ago this Saturday, May 18, my high school classmates and I marched across E.L. Morgan field at Newton High School and graduated. Forty years! Wow!

Life is so much different today than when we were seniors in high school. Most of our classrooms were not air-conditioned and we didn’t know the difference. Lots of our homes were not air-conditioned either, or had one window unit, like ours did, struggling to cool the whole place.

I have a much better understanding today as to why Momma and Daddy were always yelling “shut the door you’re gonna let all the cold air out.” I let a lot of cold air out growing up!

By the way, they do have central air and heat now. Modern convenience!

Likewise, my car was a 1977, standard shift, Toyota Corona with no air-conditioning, other than the hand-operated, roll-down variety. My friends and I didn’t seem to mind because it certainly got us everywhere we wanted to go and believe you me we went to a whole lot of places. Today, I either sweat a heck of a lot more or it is a great deal warmer in Mississippi in the summertime. Gotta have the AC! At home and in the car.

That car came with an AM/FM radio and about a year after graduation I talked my mom into buying me an AM/FM “cassette” player for my birthday since I was a struggling college student and needed better tunes in my ride to attract the ladies. It worked. I found the one that would become my wife that year and we will have been married 38 years this August.

When I bought that little car I paid $2,500 for it. We sold it in 1984, a good bit over 100,000 miles later, my wife and I, we did, for $2,500! Quite the investment, especially compared to these days when that amount of money is barely a down payment, or, in some cases, the amount of a monthly note.

I’ve still got some of those college days cassettes, but our cars today don’t have anywhere to stick them. I did try to listen to one of them a couple of weeks back but the cassette player at home would not turn. I’ll just hang onto them for a little while longer, I suppose. One never knows.

One of the most drastic changes from 1979 to 2019 is the manner in which we communicate. Most everyone today — if not everyone today — has a little pocket computer in their pocket more commonly refered to as a cell phone. We didn’t even have full-size computers that fit on top of desks in 1979, much less one that would fit into our pocket. And, if we wanted to call somebody we picked up the phone and dialed their number. Rotary dialed, for that matter, at our house, although a few of the ritzier families had the push button varieties hanging on their kitchen walls.

Although those old rotary dial phones are long gone, we do have a red one at our house that we’ve hung onto for years, and years....and years!  When my daughter was a child we had that red phone hooked up out by the swimming pool. After one particular pool party a friend of hers asked if she could use our phone to call her mom. I pointed to that “Presidential Hotline” phone and the poor little girl stared at it for a moment and then back at me with absolutely no idea how to make the thing work.

Sometimes I think I liked it better back in the rotary dial days. Days when you actually could get away from the hustle and bustle for a little while riding around on back roads,  with the windows down, listening to Bruce Springsteen singing Born in the USA on the cassette player.

Sometimes I do indeed.

To all of you in the class of 2019, I can only imagine all the wonderful changes you’ll be a part of in the next 40 years, but at least you already have air conditioning.

Congratulations and good luck!