“Back In The Day”
“When I Was Coming Up”
“In The Old Days”
“Things ain’t what they used to be and never was.”
“I used to walk 5 mile to school, up hill, both ways.”
“When I was your age…”
When I was your age, milk was a nickel and cars were a quarter. OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but how often have you heard the phrase that begins with “When I was your age”? The fact is, things have changed a lot over my lifetime, and I’m “only” 47.
Lets look at how the world has changed since I was born in 1963 vs 2009:
|Gasoline:||30 cents per gallon||2.51 per gallon|
|Bread||21 cents per loaf||$1.77 cents per loaf|
|Milk||1.04 per gallon||$3.70 per gallon|
|Postage Stamp||4 cents||44 cents|
|Average Annual Salary||$6,998||$39,423|
|Minimum Wage||$1.25 per hour||$7.25 per hour|
The information above is not a scientific or in depth examination of these statistics. It is just to give you an idea of how costs have changed. Forget the stats, though. I have so many anecdotal examples of how things have changed.
One of my favorite examples comes from way back in 1973, the Middle East Oil Crisis. Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, decided to punish the US for re-supplying the Israeli military during the Yom Kippur War. They drastically reduced the supply of oil available to the US, causing long lines at the pumps, if the gas station even had gas. The price of gas went up by a large percentage. It went from 33 cents per gallon to 58 cents per gallon. That is only a jump of 25 cents, which does not sound like a lot. However, if my calculations are correct, that would be like gas going from 3.00 per gallon to 5.22 per gallon. So, back then, that was still a big increase. Even by the time I was in college, gas was up to 1.21 per gallon. For $10, you could get close to a full tank of gas. I’d kill for that, wouldn’t you?
The first cell or mobile phone I ever saw was owned by my old friend John Gallagher. It was back in the very early 90’s. I guess you could call it mobile; the handset itself was the size of a brick and was attached to a base unit by a coiled cord. The base unit was the size of a modern day laptop bag. Portable? Yes. Anything like today’s tiny, feature-packed cell phones? No way. Music, video, Internet, games? No one even dared dream of all that on a phone that would fit in your shirt pocket.
Computers have changed a lot since the 1960’s. That’s right, there were computers in 1963!
Computers built between 1963 and 1972 were based on the first integrated circuits – creating smaller machines than the ones built before 1963. The IBM mainframe was one such computer, while smaller minicomputers began to open up computing to smaller businesses.
Since the point of this speech is not to be an accurate history of computers, I’m going to jump to the first computer I owned. When I graduated in 1986 from RIT, my parents purchased an IBM PS/2 Model 25. The retail price was around 2,500.
But I remember we paid an extra $300 for the 20 Meg external hard drive. I think it was around the size of a modern laptop! Back then we did not know what a gigabyte or a terabyte was.
What could you get for $2500 now?
You can be the proud owner of an XSMotion Xecutive 285×1 (2.66 GHz Intel Core 17 920 Processor, 6 GB RAM, 1 TB 7200 RPM Hard Drive, EVGA GTX 285 1 GB Graphics Card, Windows 7) SHIPPING INCLUDED FREE …OF COURSE.
And what extra storage is available for $300 now? How about a big, honking 1.0TB LaCie Dual (2-disk RAID) eSATA II 3Gbits & High Speed USB 2.0 Storage Solution. WOW!. I feel so powerful. Why heck, you can get yourself a 16 GIG thumb drive for under $25.
So much for technology. What about our society?
Family was a mom and dad and some kids
Wally did not have two mommies. Let’s put it that way. By no means am I making any kind of judgment. We just did not hear about families with two moms or two dads. In fact, I don’t remember any of my friends having divorced parents. It just did not happen. And I sure did not have half a sibling. We did not have 2.5 kids in my family. There was my brother and sister, both complete people.
Working parents, day care and playing outside.
When I was a kid, my mom did not work. I never spent a minute in day care. Neither did my brother or sister. My mother put her career ambitions and her Masters in Mathematics from Barnard on hold when she had my brother. She eventually went back to work for an accounting firm when my sister was around eight years old. By then, I was old enough to look after her as was my older brother.
My time after school, on weekends and over the summer were not booked tighter than Chili’s restaurant on a Saturday night. When my homework was finished, I went outside and played….with other kids…face to face….with footballs, basketballs, baseballs and bats, and hockey sticks. As the seasons changed, so did the sport. We got together and played against kids from other neighborhoods. We’d walk a ½ mile, play street hockey for 3 hours straight, get into a few friendly fights, and then walk back the ½ mile back home. Of course, after a win, the walk seemed a lot shorter.
Now, kids can play football or any other sport with their friends. It’s just that they can be anywhere in the world. They just have to own an Xbox or PS3, the same game, and an Internet connection.
I played little league and my neighbor, Jeff, played ice hockey. However, I don’t remember every one of my friends playing sports every season and all year long. Our entire lives were not scheduled down to the second, I can tell you that.
The funny thing is, whether we were playing outside, or my sons are playing online now, getting called for dinner never came at a good time.
Bra Straps and Boxers
When did it become “OK” for ladies to let their bra straps show? I remember that girls did everything they could for people not to see them. Not so now, that is for sure. Now, it seems as if it is intentional. Bras are now a way to make a fashion statement.
Lest you think I’m just picking on women, I’m not. When I was a kid, we wore belts that actually held our pants up. What a unique concept. The idea was not to have your underwear on display for all to see. We put our pants on, one leg at a time, wore belts and kept our underwear to ourselves. Pants On The Ground? I don’t think so!
So where are we now?
What will my sons be saying when they are in their 40’s? Who really knows? I can just see it now:
“When I was coming up, we had to carry our computers instead of have the implanted.”
“In the good old days, we actually knew how to spell and write complete sentences”
“Back in the day, we had to leave the house to go to school”
“Why, when I was your age, milk was 7 dollars and cars were a million.”