It is the last day of the year. With so many resolutions and so little time, the one thought that sticks in my head pushes me back into the lower level (I hate to call it a basement) of Gackle High School.
The school no longer stands, destroyed by fire and replaced like many of my memories. It stood three stories high, brick with well-traveled wooden steps, depressed from shuffling shoes of many students, leading to long halls and classrooms with huge uninsulated windows. We were not allowed to wear slacks, jeans or pants to school in those days and most certainly kept our tummies covered. We obeyed the rules. We walked to school, even on the coldest of winter days.
Among other things, we read 1984 by George Orwell. We talked about the coming ice age. Yes, we were concerned about the environment, but not warming; instead, the weather cooling over our lifetime. And we talked about the year 2000. I did not expect to see the year 2000, so far away from our innocent lives.
Yet, here we are on the eve of 2020. Wow. I'm still here, changed, and unchanged. Inside this creaky body, the heart of a senior still dreams at 60 beats per minute — high school senior (insert smiley face here).
Everything has changed at such a rapid rate in the past ten years alone. The world has become strange to me, and I ponder whether this is exactly how my grandparents and parent felt about the changes in their lifetimes. Sometimes, I think not. How could electricity be a shock comparable to the fact we can communicate globally over the Internet.
Thinking about technology alone, the little they were exposed to, what a change for my parents. My generation will be the one in the books as the last generation to know what it was like to live without computers and cell phones. Like my interviews with the generation that grew up without electricity, we will be asked about what life was like without technology to the degree we use it today.
Oh, there are many things to enjoy about technology. My chosen profession has been eliminated, replaced by computer software that allows me to do amazing things. It's just that there's little tactile enjoyment in pecking at keys and mousing in colors on the many printed materials we have yet to eliminate. I remember in the 80s when my supervisor and friend told me that someday we would be reading books on a computer and not on paper. Sadly and conveniently, he was correct.
So, here I am, musing about the fact that I have to face 2020 and am grateful for that opportunity. I do have to face it without my mom and many of my friends. Writing what I can remember about the days before computers will be my only goal this year. Other than that, life goes on, one battle after another. Some victories. Some sadness. Hopefully, always underlying joy at the things we are grateful for -- children, grandchildren, health, wealth, and friends. So, to you, my friends, I wish a safe eve to the upcoming new year. Blessings to you in 2020.
PS: here's another golden oldie that we thought we would never see, but you never know... IN THE YEAR 2525.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.