Through my grandma’s eyes

May 2021 – Senior Connections
By Dale Kovar

When I was growing up, my parents and I lived as part of an extended family with my grandmother and an uncle.

“Grandma” was the only grandparent of mine remaining alive when I was born, and the living arrangement allowed me to know her well.

We lived on the remnant of an old-time farm about two miles out of town with a barn and several other unused outbuildings. The land was rented to a neighboring farmer.

There still was a functioning hand-pumped well just outside the house even though we had indoor plumbing by the time I arrived.

There also was an outhouse tucked between some of the outbuildings, and since we had the indoor convenience, I didn’t have to deal with how far a trip it would have been several times a day, every day, all year around.

We didn’t have any carpeting, so it was our norm to wear shoes in the house all the time. Later in life, it took me quite awhile to adjust to the concept of not wearing shoes inside.

Television already existed and we had an old model on which we watched shows in black-and-white. I recall putting away coins at one point to save up for the dream of getting one of those fancy color television sets.

Trips to “the cities” from this area were something you planned a couple weeks ahead. It certainly wasn’t a daily commute.

One of my clearest memories of life changing for my grandma was when telephone service came to our area. It was a rural party line, so you could hear others in their conversation and had to wait your turn to make your call.

Mostly, I remember Grandma being so amazed that on that device you could speak and other people who were somewhere else could hear you! And vice versa, you could hear them!

When some of our relatives would visit, it was an occasion to wait until dark; then they would set up a projector and show slides of the places they had traveled to.

One uncle was a pretty good photographer, and his interest in pictures filtered down to us.

In those days, we had to buy film, carefully take the pictures we wanted, then take the film to a local store to be sent off for developing, and several days later pick them up to see how they turned out. Not only that, but one had to have some knowledge about shutter speed and exposure, as well as having to make sure the photo was in focus.

Of course, now it’s automatic – aim and click, and you can see the results as fast as you can switch apps.

In later years, Grandma got her first airplane ride to visit relatives in California. I wasn’t part of that trip but recall it being another important milestone.

Sometimes I wonder what she would think of today’s technology and society.

Every once in awhile, I chuckle when walking up to a retail store and having the expectation that the door will open when I get close enough.

I can almost hear my grandma laughing at that: “You don’t have to open the door, it opens for you!”

That brings me to an idea for the next internet viral video: running as fast as you can to see if you can crash into an automatic door before it can open.

This isn’t something for teenagers to try. To be really popular, we need some 60-plussers who can pull it off.

Remember, you’re probably on camera so all attempts will be monitored and evaluated. Good luck.

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