My grandfather was born in 1903. He lived to be 99 ½ years old. During his lifetime, some of the greatest inventions were made, and others were made affordable to the middle class. Think of telephones, cars and electric lights.
He grew up in a small town that rose up alongside a river, because that’s how most civilizations grew “in the olden days.” Waterways and ships were the superhighway of that era. Time did not treat his town very well, and today most of it has become a slum. We grew up in the suburbs, and didn’t understand the love had for his hometown.
He lived during a time when the Irish were facing discrimination, so he buried his heritage and became “American.” Although both his parents were born in Ireland, and he was the first generation born in America, he never spoke of Ireland. Instead, he learned a few key words and phrases in Italian, and the Italian guys he worked with thought he knew what they were talking about.
He believed in going to work early. In those days, the early bird truly got the worm. If you got there late, you didn’t work, you didn’t get paid, and you didn’t eat that day. There was no welfare system “safety net.”
Later, when he lived with my family during the 1980’s, he used to drive me to work 30 minutes early. We would sit in the parking lot and wait for the doors to be unlocked. No one was even in the parking lot yet.But he helped me to learn that the first part of any job is showing up, ready to work.
In the summertime, he used fans. He never liked air conditioning. Towards the end of his life, he would make my mother drive him to doctor’s appointments in the August heat with the windows up and the a/c off. He didn’t like those new-fangled contraptions.
Lately, I find myself fighting against new and more convenient technology. My car has roll-down windows. I don’t want electric windows! My niece had a car accident, and was stuck inside the car, the doors were electronically locked, the seatbelts electronically harnessed and the windows — you got it — closed.
I still like to listen to a record on a turntable now and then. I like the feeling of holding a cd in my hands, (I moved up from vinyl to digital, isn’t that enough?) and although I do have an iPod, my son has to load it up for me. And remind me how its the menus work. Often.
Although I taught my mother (often) how to set the VCR, I have yet to figure out a Ti-Vo. That’s why I have a son. 🙂
I find myself making fun of the new TV shows, and watching reruns of old stuff, and enjoying black-and-white movies more often than new movies. There’s just too much swearing.
I find myself showing up early for appointments, instead of rushing in at the last minute.
So while I do recognize that I am slowly turning into my grandfather, I find comfort in the fact that I have not yet taken to wearing sweaters in July.