On The Beat: 2/21

You are 17, I was 17

By Jim Bucher

When I was in high school, way back in 1977 at Dayton Christian (6 years, but I made it!), staring at the clock on the wall in Spanish III, I daydreamed about the year 2000, 23 short years away. I wondered what life had in store. Sort of funny to think about it now.

Now, some 17 years after the turn of the century, much has changed. To put it in perspective, I was 17 at the time, same age as my youngest daughter is now.

Back then, we thought about playing at Five Oaks Park after school. Today, kids romp in a virtual park on their mobile devices.

What else is different?

Well, teens “hook up” online. Back then, we wrote love letters and stuck them in a locker.

Today, you order food through a microphone. Then, we actually parked the car, walked into the Goody Goody on Salem Ave. and placed an order with another human being.

Way back when, you filled out a withdrawal slip for cash while standing in line at Gem City Savings. Today, it’s drive through ATM machines, all the way.

In this day and age, while checking out at the grocery, you use your debit card and the new chip device. Then, at Liberal, you wrote a check—with proper ID, of course.

Right now, you can check your mobile device for the cheapest gas and fill up at self-serve.

Then, gas stations competed for your money with attendants who cleaned your windshield, checked the oil. They offered glassware, dishes, and the latest Firestone Christmas album at Sohio. Anyone remember those?

You also went to the Stump’s to get milk, bread, and cheese. Now convenience stores/gas stations got you covered—with conveniently higher prices.

Now, all your news comes online. Then, the Dayton Daily News was delivered to your home, with the Dayton Journal Herald sometimes coming the afternoon of the same day.

Today, your gas and electric meters are electronically read and the dreaded bills coming soon after. Back then, the DP&L meter reader entered your home with his/her own key—and had keys from neighbors, too,  heavy enough to use as an anchor. You could hear him or her blocks away, loudly jingling.

Today, friends or family are one call or text away on your mobile device. Then, it was, “Who’s on the upstairs extension? I need to make a phone call!” If you wanted privacy, you could always use the pay phone booth on the corner. Remember the “busy signal”?

Presently, there is a plethora of devices to catch your fav TV show—cable, satellite, tablet, PC, phone. Then, it was just TV with “rabbit ears” (with occasional tin foil tips) turned a specific way to receive the clearest picture. Now, you can also binge-watch shows when you want. Years ago, it was, “Join us next week, same time, same channel for The Brady Bunch,” praying it wasn’t a rerun.

Today, you can purchase movie tickets online or at a kiosk at the theatre. Back in the day at the Salem Mall Cinema, you’d have to physically show up at the box office. Didn’t know if a show was sold out until then. Or you had the option of waiting on the “on hold” for the three-minute phone recording with the rundown of that day’s shows.

Not too long ago, if you had difficulty in making a long-distance call, dialing zero would connect you with a live operator. Today, you need to push this and that and this again and hope to get someone who speaks English.

For high school homework, chances are you studied from real textbooks. (I believe they still use those after seeing my daughter’s book bag, which needs a backhoe to lift.) And you used a typewriter for term papers, until you needed a new ribbon. Today, word processors and printers do the trick.

Also back then, your automobile had an AM/FM radio with the possibility of an eight-track or cassette deck. Today, your car talks to you and tends to cause the driver to say, “Shut the hell up!”

Now, you can take top quality photos with your phone and print in seconds. Back then, you purchased film, had it developed, then picked the pics up at your local parking lot Photo-Mat. That is, unless you were lucky enough to own a Polaroid Instant Camera. The envy of the block.

When I was a kid, during summer break from school and other times while playing outside, our folks made us head home when the streetlights came on. Now, “You better answer your FaceTime or I’m coming to get you via Find my iPhone.”

So, what will my offspring be writing 17 years from today about their kids?

“If you don’t get your dad’s flying car home right now, you’re grounded to your pod on Mars for a month.”

Some things will never change.



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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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