I’m trying to blog more, in part in an effort to increase readership, but in part because sometimes typing all of the stuff floating around in my head helps me sort it out. There isn’t much EMS in this post, so if you only read my musings related to that, you probably want to move on.
I’ll add that as my days of active in the field EMS fade into the past, I’ll probably post less about my former life. I will try to through in some stories from the past, but keep in mind that many of them are from the days when EMS (and the world) were much different. Some of the things I did 20 or more years ago would get me in trouble if I did them today. The world has changed, mostly not for the better in regard to politics and behavior. There seems to be a force striving relentlessly to drive humor out of every aspect of our lives. No one seems to be able to take a joke these days without someone diving into “identity politics” and some aggrieved group wanting action. Sometimes, a joke is just a joke and people really need to stop trying to impart deeper meanings into it.
On to the ramblings,
A couple of weeks ago I went to a combination dinner/music/comedy show. It was entertaining and surprisingly suitable for all ages. At one point the front man for the group talked about television back when he grew up. He said that there were three channels and nothing to watch. Today there are a couple of hundred cable channels… and nothing to watch.
He’s right about that, and it started me to thinking about the world I grew up in and the world as it is today.
Back when he (and I) grew up there really were only three channels. ABC, CBS, NBC, were the networks and that was that. If you lived in an urban area, you might have a PBS station as well. Well before Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, Frontline, NOVA and This (expensive) Old House, most of their programming consisted of old documentaries. Things like “How the UN will make the world better”, “Our friend the electric light” and of course “How to build a bomb shelter in your basement using rolls of toilet paper” were just dandy fare for really smart people who didn’t like commercials. That was it, really. Most shows were in black and white, some were live, some were filmed, some were good, most were dreadful. The news was an hour total. 30 minutes of local news, sports, and weather, and then 30 minutes of network news. Did I mention that most stations went off the air around midnight or shortly after? Some stayed on the air, but this,
was all you saw as the engineers did maintenance through the wee hours.
Slowly TV started to expand past midnight, with news shows, or all night movies. Very slowly. As little as 30 years ago my area had one all night TV station.
In the late 1960s or early 1970s “UHF” stations started to appear. Those were the ones above Channel 12. Mostly they had old shows, the ones from the 1950s that hadn’t seen the light of day since first broadcast. And old movies. Sometimes you could see episodes of shows that you had missed years before. There were no VCRs, no DVDs, cable TV was only used in places where the transmitters didn’t reach and only carried what went out over the air.
Color TVs started to catch on in the late 1960s and by about 1968 most shows were filmed in color. Woo hoo, color!
Then cable came along, VCRs, and the world started to change. Now I can watch the shows I missed when I was a kid. And realize that most of them were in fact pretty silly. Enjoyable, but silly.
Oh, and TVs were expensive back then and are less so now. Prices might be the same, but back 50 years ago a $500.00 dollar TV was a lot of money.
Remote controls? The remote control in my house was ME. I was the youngest and so I got to change the channel and adjust the antenna. Oh, and the TVs had a “fine tuning” knob since the tuner was controlled by components that changed their electrical values as they heated up.
Did I mention telephones? Yeah, we had them, but I knew people who had party lines well into the 1970s. Look those up to see how they worked because if I tell you, you’d think I was making it up.
No cell phones, no answering machines, let alone voice mail. There were mobile phones, but they were expensive to buy, big and bulky to put in your car, and a pain in the ass to use. Only rich people had them, because only they could afford them. Touch Tone phones became a big deal in the late 1960s. Of course it cost another $1.00 a month for that and most people didn’t think it was a great enough advance to pay for.
EMS? No such thing. If you were sick, someone drove you to the hospital. Well, if your doctor wouldn’t come out to the house, which most did. Now EMS makes house calls, and doctors don’t. If you were really hurt, the police would drive you in their station wagon “ambulette” or maybe a funeral home ran the ambulance. Fire departments put out fires, of which there were plenty. Smoke detectors didn’t exist, most places didn’t have fire alarms or sprinklers, and stuff burned pretty easily. Fire departments didn’t have the time or interest in EMS, with few exceptions.
Cars weren’t nearly as nice back then either. Despite our nostalgia for the “good old day” cars weren’t nearly as well built or durable as they are now. Not to mention as safe. You have a much better chance of walking away alive and uninjured now than you did when I was a kid. Speaking of which, there were no car seats and most people didn’t use seatbelts. That’s if there cars had them.
Some things are better, some things are worse. I expect it’s always been that way and always will be.
I’ve rambled enough for one night. I’ll stop before I tell you how I walked five miles to school each day in two feet of snow, UPHILL BOTH WAYS!
Actually I did walk, but the furthest I ever had to walk was about a mile. My city didn’t have school buses until well after I graduated and moved on.