Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Barefoot. In the snow. Uphill. Both ways.

A reader named Rob sent this essay written by someone named Beth Piana. The language is a bit salty but it's pretty funny.

Growing Up Without a Cell Phone
Beth Piana

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning... Uphill...Barefoot... BOTH ways yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that I'm less than 3 years away from 50, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don't know how good you've got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!

There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter - with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there! Stamps were 05 cents!

Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe!

There were no MP3's or Napsters or iTunes! If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself!

Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up! There were no CD players! We had tape decks in our car..We'd play our favorite tape and "eject" it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. Cause, hey, that's how we rolled, Baby! Dig?

We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that's it!

There weren't any freakin' cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn't make a damn call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your "friends". OH MY GOD!!! Think of the horror...not being in touch with someone 24/7!!! And then there's TEXTING. Yeah, right. Please! You kids have no idea how annoying you are.

And we didn't have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, the collection just didn't know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn't have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like 'Space Invaders' and 'Asteroids'. Your screen guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination!!! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen...Forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel!!! NO REMOTES!!! Oh, no, what's the world coming to?!?!

There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-finks!

And we didn't have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove! Imagine that!

And our parents told us to stay outside and play...all day long. Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort. And if you came back were doing chores!

And car seats - oh, please! Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on. If you were lucky, you got the "safety arm" across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling "shot gun" in the first place! See! That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled rotten! You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1980 or any time before!

Along these lines, here's an article sent by another reader about a mom who "unplugged" her teens for six months. The horror! Of course, her teens ended up appreciating the "good old days" a little better after that...


  1. Patrice,

    I've seen that essay before but it always make me laugh. So true, so true. I'm 44 and definitely remember those days. Hard to believe it was so long ago.


  2. Lets see... We
    1) Write letters with a pen, not Email.
    2) My sister and me both wish Child Protective Services would get their noses out of other people's business.
    3) Who need Mp3's, Napster's' or iTunes? What is a Napster, anyway?
    4) Who has a problem with tapes? Sure, CD's are more convenient. Does it matter?
    5) Please, don't think me stupid, but what's Call Waiting?
    6) We don't have Caller ID.
    7) We don't have vidio games, like X-box or play station.
    8) Forget cartoon network... We don't even have television.
    9) Yes, we use microwaves. We use stove more.
    10) Hey, outside is where you can run around.
    11) And last but not least... Name one child under ten who actually wants seat belts.

    Does this mean me and my sister are deprived?

    Patrice's Younger Daughter.

  3. 60 years ago I walked to school in the snow. I used socks for mittens and I got one pair of shoes a year, leather low quarter shoes which was almost like being barefoot in the snow. I can remember playing after school and my feet ached they were so cold from the snow getting in over the top and melting in and soaking my feet. Our family had one pair of Bean boots and when my feet finally grew large enough that it was my turn to wear them I felt like a king. I could go anywhere, fight through any snowdrift, stay outside until 9PM. I loved those Bean boots.

  4. Younger daughter, you are blessed!

  5. Cute. I can empathize with many of those examples.

  6. Last week, my kids went to sleep in 2011 and woke up in 1811. We turned off all electricity, the wood stove was our only source of heat and cooking, and our teens loved it. They are not quite as wrapped up in electronics as some of there peers, but that is because we have set limits and follow them. No texting except to family members for the 1st year they had texting on their phones. Several months ago, we revoked that ban. No texting any time we are eating or spending time together as a family or with other friends, even if their friends are texting. We have a Wii but it is used only if the whole family is playing which with our schedule is less than 2 hours every 4 months. Mp3 players can be used while doing chores around the house but at least one headphone has to be left out so I can get their attention if needed. As far as Facebook goes, we have never allowed our kids to "friend," text or chat with someone they haven't met in real life. We also restrict them from "friending" people who we deem to old to interact with them; there are some exceptions, uncles, aunts, cousins, people in our ministry groups. The is only one tv in the house, in the living room, so we watch as a family. The kids have DVD players in the car, because we live a very drive from anywhere, and sometimes it is nice to let them watch a movie while Dad and I converse. But again, I have to approve the movie. We also have the passwords to Facebook and email accounts and we use them whenever we want. Sometimes some of their friends from school post stuff I don't like on their FB pages. I delete the post or friend if it happens too often. The kids have never used a chat room. We have one desktop computer and the screen faces the rest of the room. Our daughter got a laptop for her birthday, she is preparing for college in August. The laptop can only be used in the living room. Never in her bedroom or by herself. And my kids have actually told me they appreciate our boundaries. Also, they can't wait for another "1811" day. We built a bonfire outside, cooked in our dutch oven over the fire, played board games, toasted sandwiches on the wood stove, (the kids figured out how on their own), and used candles for all the light we needed. By the way, our kids are 17 and 14.

  7. Oh my goodness, that was hysterical! I think mostly cause I can relate and because it sounds like something I would say. This Walmart Generation doesn't have a clue. I call them that because our generation has raised them not to value anything. After all, we can just run to Walmart and buy a new one, right????

  8. "And then there's TEXTING. Yeah, right. Please! You kids have no idea how annoying you are. "

    Hilarious! I'm still snickering.

    BTW, I regularly read your posts out loud to my husband and we're always so blessed by your insights and humor! Congrats on the book.

    I'll go back to just lurking now.
    A faithful reader,

  9. When I was young, a hundred years ago, we had no cable TV. Instead, we had a large TV antenna on the roof that pulled in about 3 stations and if the wind blew hard, the static on the TV screen would be like watching a Minnesota blizzard.

    Our playground equipment was solid steel and the sandbox was as hard as a rock after a good rain. If you slipped and fell into the wet sand, you would have a scrape similar to roadrash. And the equipment was freezing cold in the winter, even here in California, so when your little hands touched it there was an instant tingling and an immediate sense of regret. That steel jungle jim sure put a lot of bumps and bruises on my young little noggin.

    Ah, those were the days! Kids had to be tough to survive the playground. And we had to walk a mile to get to the school bus that would then take us 300 yards to the school we attended. That never made any sense to me, but it was always fun to get out of the rain and talk with friends for about 30 seconds before getting to school.

    Good times!

    Anonymous Patriot

  10. Brilliant piece.

    Heh.. as a "phone phreak" when I was a teenager, I had a lineman's phone (called a butt set). I could jump on telephone lines all over town to make calls - couldn't get calls, but I could reach out and touch someone whenever the mood hit me - without a dime...

    I like the idea of killing the power as a way of learning just how dependent we are.

    Years ago I killed the main breaker in a drill to make sure that my wife could get the generator running, hooked up and power flowing again in the house. She did just fine - SHE reads directions (which I wrote...).

  11. Oh my gosh..."safety arm." Good times, good times!

  12. It is quite a coincidence that you posted an article on this topic today. I was just thinking something similar this morning as I was driving to work and I got behind a school bus.

    I went to school in the 70s, but my Dad was in his 50s when I was born - so it was like a skipped-generation between him and me. He attended a one-room country schoolhouse that was about a mile from our house. When I was a kid, my grandmother lived in that schoolhouse and that was where the school bus picked us up. Didn't matter what the weather was - we walked there to catch the bus. My Dad walked there to go to grade school. Again didn't matter what the weather was.

    I remember him telling me that he rode a pony into town to go to high school. In the dead of winter, he walked more than rode just to keep warm. It was about five miles one way from the home place to the high school in town.

    So, this morning as I'm driving in to work, I'm behind a school bus picking up kids in the middle of town. There is a shelter that the city built on the corner - but are any kids using it? No... There is a Unitarian church a half a block from where the bus stops and the parking lot is full of parents sitting with the kids in the car. Then, they wait until the bus stops before they let the kids out to walk the half-block to get on.

    But here's the kicker.. It is only four more blocks to the school!!!

    Why not just drop the kids off there?

    Or better yet - keep them at home and have them actually learn something.

    But then again, if these parents haven't figured out that the school is within shouting distance of where the bus picks the kids up - we probably don't want them teaching the next generation things like common sense either.

    I've gotten to the point where I'm actually thankful for people like this, because when my daughters are grown and looking for work, they will be interviewing against these kids. It makes my job easier.

  13. Now that's funny! I think. Technology is racing along at a pace that no one can keep up with forever. 30 years ago, I got a toy for Christmas and the adults were surprised it needed batteries. 10 years ago my mom bought me a camera and didn't know what kind of memory card it needed. This year it was a surround sound system. Does it need a bluetooth thingy? What's an HDMI cable? Does it need a Hi-Def antenna? Poor mom!

    Is anybody else scared that the 10 year old's of today will be confused by new technology by the time they are 20?

    I think we need to turn off the power one weekend a month. Let's put a little self sufficiency back in our kids lives. The real issue... Simplicity confuses today's youth.

  14. I've wanted to do this for a while, but my husband won't let me. He's the biggest gadget addict in the household, and cannot live without his television or laptop.

    *sigh* Maybe I'll convince him some day.


  15. Oh my, that all sounds familiar, I think most of it's come out of my mouth somewhere along the line, LOL......and lives in my brain a good majority of the time, even without saying it out loud......

    I don't think of the kids now as spoiled as much as I think they're missing out on so many things we were able to do when I was small......we COULD play outside all day, up until 9pm sometimes, without the fear of crazies trying to take us......we could rely on running to neighbors' house for help if something happened away from home, we KNEW the neighbors....learning how to play/occupy our time and doing chores taught us how to do things for ourselves, rather than have electronics babysit our minds.....part of my life tv didn't even exist, followed by another period of time when it wasn't affordable, and we survived just fine without it......I could go on and on, hehehe......

    I really feel sorry for the last *enter quantity here* decades of kids who have missed the chance to listen to their own thoughts rather than have some device telling them what to think at any given moment.....they have all these gadgets, and of course (!) are still bored....

    What is sad is watching a few generations going from involved with their children, to arranging for other people/classes/events being involved with their children, to having non humans involved with their children......

    *In regards to the school bus and school not so far away, when my kids were small, in the 80s, one of the schools they attended made taking the bus mandatory for ALL who were opt out was a paperwork nightmare....and school was 3 blocks away.......

  16. Amazing how our life lessons have never been taught to our kids, the blame is shared by all. We have let our children become slaves to technology. Joined at the ear with cell phones and other modern trappings. Even if we are ever in a situation when cell phones or computers fail to function, or the fridge cannot run Most of these last two generations will not make it. Modern convenience items have made these generations soft and lazy with no work ethic whatsoever. The odds of something major happening to our way of life increases by the amount of time we let our society go soft. I fear we have lost generations on our hands.

    Had Enuff

  17. Every generation had it "rough" compared to their children's, so eventually our children will one day complain to their children about how hard they use to have it...It'll be neat to see what it is kids today will say was "rough" for them!

  18. My husband and I were taking a walk down memory lane the other day, so this article was very timely. We both got quite a chuckle out of it.
    We told our kids (probably for the umpteenth time) what it was like when we were kids.
    Let's see:
    Party line phones
    3 channels (when they came in)
    We were our parents remote for the TV
    School playgrounds had cement under the monkeybars and swings
    Walking to school was required (no busing in our area until years after we graduated)
    I remember being sent outside to play, and usually didn't go back in until street lights started to come on. We could find hours of enjoyment without being guided by adults or coddled by electronic distractions.
    I am curious, yet concerned to see what would happen to this generation, if all of these technological comforts disappeared overnight. I have a feeling, the wailing and whining would be heard for miles.

  19. Imagine if your daughters could flash back in time to when a gob of kids could ride in the box of a pickup truck and not get hasseled by the cops or meddeling bypassers. Yes, IT HAPPENED!

  20. When I was in Jr. High, our town was so small that you only had to dial the last four digits of the phone number of the party you were calling, and if you were mailing to anyone in town, you only had to put their names on the envelope, because the Postmaster knew where everyone lived.

    Oh, and we had party lines also, but for a limited time.

    Ah, the memories.

  21. About three years ago my hubby and I instigated "blackout night", inspired by an actual full night of electricity loss that affected our entire neighborhood---sadly, brought on by the untimely demise of a fluffy little squirrel and some wires.

    From that night on, once a week, from dusk on, there would be no power used at all till the next morning.

    Our little girl, five at the time, loved it!

    We would light all the candles in the house, sit together and read, play games, play with the kitties, have a drum circle, long as no electricity was needed.

    It was such a relief to have the ever present TV and computer switched off!

    After a few weeks we let that special night fall to the wayside. Somehow we ended up with cable and endless cartoon channels and movie channels...ugh! And a dear relative gifted us with a Wii game system, which we were totally against having due to time-suckage. And yes we played it. And yes, it did suck up our time. At least we played it as a family---and I lost 20 pounds using the Wii Fit, but still...

    Just this past week we have decided to reinstate the "blackout night"...our little girl actually asked for it! We are very excited to get back to it. With all the prepping we've been doing recently, it's a perfect fit! We'll start with one night a week and then move on to two, perhaps then even three!

    I think all these wonderful tech toys and gadgets are really taking away from the family time and family value...nothing is sadder than all three of us sitting in the same room, each on our own laptop, not conversing with---or even aware of---eachother.

    It's such a Catch 22.

    I'm on my laptop almost daily---nearly all day---writing, researching, FaceBooking, keeping up with far away friends, etc...and yet, I want to unplug and cherish the quiet moments away from this machine.

    And yet...
    What would I ever do without: the quickness of Google? The ability to reserve library books via online connection? Super speedy online resources for homeschooling? Skyping with relatives on the other coast? All these great and resourceful blogs?

    *big sigh*

    I'm 40 and I remember the simplicity of life. Just back as recently as the late 90's I didn't even have a computer. I never thought I would be able to say that the 80's were simple!! But I actually spent time with my friends, not texting to eachother while sitting at the same table.

    What's up with that?

    And I'll just never understand texting back and forth for half an hour when the same conversation could be accomplished in 5 minutes!

    Ohhhhh, I sound like my parents!

  22. That is a real conundrum you have described Syraminx. The past was not more simple or better. It was simply different. It is peoples attitudes that have changed. They are so sure that the government will save them come what may. The big difference now is the amount of cash out there and the amount of government interference and social engineering.

  23. Everyone here is overlooking how wonderful this technology can be. With my internet I learned how to build a house, install electrical wiring,build canoes,can, sew, work on cars,etc. Anything you want to know how to do can be found and learned quickly and cheaply.Imagine how long the older generations took to find this information and learn anything useful.