No Electronics: Stories To Scare Your Grandkids

 So, you kids want to hear a scary story?


I grew up in a dark, backward land called No Electronics.

“That is scary!”

I know.

Every generation has some version of this story. Not only that, but every generation sees so much technological advancement that the story can change depending on their desire to impress the listener. I once rented a VCR from a video store, to hook up to my first color television; but it’s much more impressive to talk about my childhood black and white console TV, which brought in 3-6 channels depending on how willing you were to go outside and turn the antenna.

What’s the big deal about this car? It was the first automobile in the town of Albion, Indiana.

We once pulled in a Chicago TV station, which was playing old black and white westerns. The pictures were snowy and the volume barely audible, but we watched anyway because at that moment our only other choices were The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, or Dialing For Dollars.

I’ll explain that last one some other time.

My grandmother tells stories about her family’s mules. To me the idea of no indoor plumbing or electricity is just as fascinating as the day I showed my youngest daughter the manual typewriter I spent my first ten years writing on.

After I demonstrated how it operated, she looked it over carefully and asked, “But where’s the power cord?”

You want portable entertainment? Here’s the Albion Library’s bookmobile.

My parents once listened to their favorite shows on the radio. “The Lone Ranger”, “Fibber McGee and Molly”, and of course “My Favorite Husband”, which later morphed into the TV show “I Love Lucy”. My question: What the heck did they look at while the show was playing? The wall? Certainly not each other?

Kids, when I was your age and I missed my favorite TV show, I wouldn’t have another chance to watch that episode until it was rerun in the summer.

“But why didn’t you record it?”

We did once record an episode of “Superman”–on reel to reel audio tape. When I was about thirty I bought a video camera, to record the kids and their activities. Now we whip out our cell phones.

Albion’s phone service, circa the turn of the century. No, the PREVIOUS century. Not a Bluetooth or USB port to be seen.

 It makes me wonder what stories my kids will tell their grandkids, someday.

“When I was your age, I couldn’t just touch my earbud and have my shows downloaded directly to my brain. I had to actually turn on the TV and bring up the DVR!”

“What’s a DVR?”

My kids won’t be able to tell the story of how they had to walk to school a mile every day, uphill both ways, through snow in the morning and a heat wave every afternoon. They’ll be asked for video proof. By the time my grandchildren are putting on their radiation suits for the hover-car trip to school, they’ll be automatically recording from the moment they wake up.

They’ll have proof that the good old days weren’t all that good.

Go ahead, find the electronics section in this Albion store. I’ll wait.

As for me, somewhere around the house I have vinyl records, cassette tapes, CD-Rom discs, and that old VHS camcorder … and a laptop, podcasts on my cell phone, and a car that talks to my phone as soon as I turn the key. Not that new cars need keys.

The changes come so fast that looking back can make a person both nostalgic, and dizzy.

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6 thoughts on “No Electronics: Stories To Scare Your Grandkids”

  1. If we all kept our vinyl records from back in the day, they would be worth a pretty penny now.

    1. Boy, they sure would be. I do have a few … I kept my “Two Sides of the Smothers Brothers”, but sadly I no longer have “Johnny Cash at San Quintin.”

  2. My wife’s grandfather often told her that he courted his wife in a buggy and in the same lifetime lived to see a man walk on the moon.

    1. Same with my grandmother. Her husband went ashore in Normandy D Day +2 to start identifying and burying bodies, after they survived the Great Depression together. A lot of what we go through pales in comparison.

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