Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Childhood and Young Adulthood Considered as a Museum Piece

I thought about a woman who has been my mother in law's neighbor for many years. The neighbor is in her 70's.

We both grew up in the Bronx, 2 miles and some 20 plus years apart.

We can reminisce about a major shopping area in the Bronx off Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse, shopping at the same stores, going to the same movie houses and even eating at the same restaurants. We read the same magazines (including Life and Look). We used pay phones. We drank the same brand of soda (in 7 oz green bottles). We remember the same shows, although it is true that she heard a lot of them on radio and I watched them on T.V. We even remember when TV had steady schedules and seasons that always began the same week each year. We played potsy on the sidewalks. (I'll stop now before I sound like one of those "I love the 50's" emails that circulate.)

There were many differences (popular music, fashions, hair styles, to name three) but we have so much in common that we've had several nice chats about our respective childhoods.

Now think of someone 26 years younger than me. Or, put it this way. My sister in law is 12 years younger than me and there is so much we don't have in common (not that she grew up in my neighborhood, but just in general).

And the 38 years between me and my son? It's sometimes like trying to build a bridge across the Grand Canyon.

Never mind how I accessed the Internet in my childhood or if I played video games during a teacher's strike in 1968.

Let's see some of the things I've had to explain to him: For starters: typewriters. Record players. Rotary phones. Carbon paper. Mimeograph machines. Telegrams. The Space Race. Communism. The Soviet Union. Hollerith cards (OK, I am being technical here, but my son did dream of majoring in computer science at one time in his life.)

I've had some surprises in my career as a parent but having my childhood and young adulthood considered a musty museum piece was a big surprise.

I will, however, have my revenge. Just wait until he has kids.

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