Old World - So Last Century

Old World — So Last Century

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge old world

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills challenged writer to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about old world charm. It can be nostalgic or irreverent. You can invent an “old world,” return to migrant roots or recall ancient times. Go where the prompt leads you!

Born mid-way last century and unlikely to see the middle of this, from this angle anyway, I have to admit that I’m of the ‘old world’. The young ones think I’m ancient.

When my daughter, now an adult herself and ‘old’ to younger eyes, was but a child, she often asked me to tell her what life was like ‘in the olden days’ when I was a child. She even asked what the dinosaurs were like!

Although she teased, it has become entrenched in family lore. (Most family members have been obsessed by dinosaurs at some time — perhaps in the hope of locating ancestors?) But perhaps the juxtaposition is not that unlikely if one has not yet developed an understanding of the evolutionary timeline.

I’ve always appreciated the quote, often mistakenly attributed to Einstein, that says the only reason we have time is to prevent everything happening at once. There is another that questions whether, if a tree was to fall in the forest and no one was there to hear it, would it make any sound?

Could it be that for children, until they develop a sense of time, anything that has occurred outside of their memory, prior to their birth, seems to have happened all at once in that long ago, old world time.

The first children to have been born this century are already reaching adult status but it is difficult for them to imagine life before mobile phones, text messaging, iPads, social media, the internet, instant information, streaming and video games, let alone television. Even for some of us who experienced those ‘olden days’, it can be difficult to remember just what it was like.

This video of children reacting to rotary phones may help you recall.

How did we meet up with friends when we didn’t have phones, never mind mobile phones? What did we do when we were waiting for an appointment or an event and we didn’t have our phones for entertainment? What did we do when we wanted to know something and we weren’t at the library, beside a set of encyclopedias, or someone knowledgeable? No wonder our parents answered our questions with statements such as; “Because it is” and admonished us for asking too many questions. No child should ever have their questions shut down now with answers just a button away.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of momentous events such as the Moon Landing, Woodstock, and my final year of school. I may not have roamed with the dinosaurs, but how life has changed since then. My story reflects back on time in that ‘old world’. I hope you like it.

So Last Century

“What did you play on the iPad when you were little, Grandma?”

“There weren’t any iPads when I was little.”

“What?”

“We didn’t even have computers.”

“What? How did you watch movies? On your phone?”

Grandma laughed. “No, we couldn’t watch movies on our phones. They didn’t have screens. And we couldn’t carry them in our pockets either. We went to the cinema to watch movies. When I was really little, we didn’t even have television.”

“Wow! What did you do then?”

“Lots — played games, read books, made our own fun.”

“Can we play a game?”

“Of course, love.”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

50 thoughts on “Old World — So Last Century

  1. Jules

    In the 8 days that I had my grands over during the day while ‘Mommy’ was in-service teacher training – the TV wasn’t on once. I’ve got some left over toys from ‘Daddy’ that have bunches of little people and scenes, like a hospital, rescue trucks, trash truck, medical helicopter, circus and and assortment of other characters – most of the time they set up those toys and carried out their own play. But we also played card and board games! They aren’t allowed on my computers and I don’t have a smart phone. Not that I would allow them to play with it anyway! So far… they are to young to have their own…

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  2. Jennie

    I love this, Norah! You have just described my life to a T. I still have our old rotary phone and my record player that I bring in to school. It is always surprising and very popular. More importantly, how you wrote your story, and the flash fiction, was just perfect.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I appreciate your kind words, Jennie. You’ve made my day. It is great to take the ‘old time’ technology into the classroom for the children to explore. I know I’ve read about them on your blog. 🙂

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  3. writersideup

    I’m as guilty as anyone for loving the “time saving/easier” aspect of technology, but there is a lot that’s negative too :/ I feel for kids of today because virtually everything they learn and do is directly connected to “virtual” apparatus that, if it breaks down or you don’t have a power source IT’S COMPLETELY INACCESSIBLE! It’s one of my greatest fears because most of my work is bottled up in an electrical device. All of us are reliant on the things afforded to us by technology, including our refrigerators which is why power outages can be devastating and unless you are a camper who has the equipment and know-how to live that way, you’re lost 😦 *sigh* Depressing, right? But I loved this video. The kids were hilarious! We are all a product of the times we live in and when. I’m about your age so remember many things well, including all those games that didn’t require electricity or were wonderfully physical and inventive 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      I agree with you about technology. I have a love-hate relationship with it. When it works I love it. When it doesn’t … well, it’s very frustrating. And you are right, we are so dependent on it. If ever that cloud bursts, there’s going to be a lot of us who won’t know what to do with ourselves.
      I still love games that are played without electronic devices. I do believe they are still popular with many others too. The shelves in toy shops seem to be stocked with more and more new games all the time. Designing new games takes imagination and creativity. It’s a good sign, I think. 🙂

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      1. writersideup

        You’ll be happy to know there is a faction of people who are “board game geeks” 😀 I don’t know if you’re familiar with Debbie Ohi (great KidLit force and author/illustrator @inkyelbows), but she’s very involved with board games (I often wonder if she sleeps–her production level is mind-boggling!). She has a board gaming blog: https://boardgamegeek.com/blogcategory/682 AND there are board game conventions: https://boardgamegeek.com/blogcategory/682 😀

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  4. Charli Mills

    Norah, I think even the dinosaurs must have played games! That’s funny, your family lore of you and dinos roaming the earth back in the old days. I also appreciate your perspective that the last century was the old world to younger generations. Wow, I hadn’t thought about those born in this century are now adults. Makes me think about the WWI veterans of the previous century and what changes they had barely experienced before expected to go to war, a world war, nonetheless. I love your flash and how the conclusion is to play a game. Some things may never change!

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    1. Norah Post author

      My Dad was 18 when he enlisted in the Second World War. He, and so many others, didn’t get to be men before their lives were changed irreparably by the horrors they faced. They were expected to come home and get on with it. No one wanted to know. You have mentioned the WWI veterans, but I think it was/is the same for any young men in war. At least now they are not conscripted as they once were.

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  5. Miriam Hurdle

    I love the old days, Norah. It was a sheer pure joy of making my own toys. To simulate the rotary phone, my students used Styrofoam cups to make the receivers!! I must ask the teachers of what they do these days!

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    1. Norah Post author

      My husband has about 15 discarded mobile phones. When my granddaughter comes over, she has a great time playing with them. Sometimes she has lengthy conversations on them, other times she sets up shop and puts pressure on us to buy one or more. She has the sales pitch down pat. 🙂

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  6. Susan Scott

    Thanks Norah – amazing to take us back 50 years and before cell phones. Loved your 99 words – and the video. yes, to playing games and reading and running and all those lovely things! I wonder about where I would be without today’s technology

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  7. joylennick

    Kidding myself, but I think saying “I’m older” is kinder than just saying “I’m old.” The latter description immediately brings to mind a bent, decrepit person, and I might be wrinkled but I am not bent or decrepit…We had less when young but it made us appreciate ‘more,’ when it came…How did we cope without a telephone/TV/CH/Air con? Just fine. We ate ‘fresh’ food every day; rationed in the war but not many obese people about…Full marks for advancements in medicine and technology, but ‘privacy,’ manners and ‘common sense’ seem to be in short supply. It’s still a beautiful planet – as long as the idiots among us don’t botch it up, and there are some wonderful people around us. Love and Light Norah. x.

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    1. Norah Post author

      That’s funny, Joy. Aren’t the comparatives ‘old, older, oldest’? 😁😂🤣 Sorry, I’m a terrible tease.
      I agree with you. There are many positives about the world today, and many wonderful people. I like your greeting ‘Love and Light’. I have another friend who closes her messages like that. It’s lovely. Best wishes to you too. xx

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  8. Patricia Tilton

    I was born during the time of black and white TVs and telephones — vaguely remember party lines in some places. Enjoyed watching the responses of the kids playing with the rotary phones. I also resonated with your prompt. Your post brought back memories. I remember in the early 80s having no interest in computers and doubted I would own one.

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    1. Norah Post author

      When did you get your first computer, Patricia? Although it took us quite a while to get a colour tv — I think we made do with black and white until the 80s — I got my first computer, an Apple IIe in 1985. I have always loved computer technology and what can be done with it. I don’t like what is inflicted upon us for the sake of it though, especially data collection.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Those ‘party lines’ were a lot of fun weren’t they? Or waiting in queue for a public phone. When my husband first came out here to Australia from Belfast, we had to go into the main Post Office in the city and book a telephone call and wait for it to be connected at one of the public booths. It cost $2 a minute. $2 was worth a lot more back then than it is now. 🙂

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  9. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    A great take on the prompt, Norah, and I did enjoy that video. Modern phones are an asset in so many ways but they have complicated matters for authors of thrillers – there’s a limit to how many times a reader can accept a character in jeopardy discovering her phone has run out of juice.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks, Anne. I’m pleased you enjoyed my story and the video to which I linked. There are others in the series in which children respond to other forms of new technology. I thought the phone fitted my story best.
      I’m not sure if I’ve read many stories with mobile phones running out of juice, but you’re better read than I am. My own phone runs out of juice at times (sometimes I do too. 😂)

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  10. thecontentedcrafter

    I guess every generation comes up against a mind popping fact from ‘life before’. I was born into the generations that took for granted milk in glass bottles being delivered to each house early every morning, in time for breakfast. I recall being stunned when my dear aunt told how her job was to be up at 4.30 so that at 5 she could carry the milk urn to the bottom of the street to meet the milk cart and collect the fresh milk, poured from the carter’s huge cans into her small urn and then to carry the heavy urn back to the house without spilling a drop. She was 14.

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    1. Norah Post author

      You’re right, Pauline. Things change so rapidly, sometimes we don’t even realise until we stop and think. We just get swept along with it. The days of milk deliveries are long past here, but now there is online shopping that can be delivered to your door. I wonder what your aunt thought of collecting the milk at the time. Often we just accept things as they are. Fortunately some don’t, or we’d make no progress.

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