In a fast-moving world

I took the first photo at the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, August 2006. The second photo is a public domain image from NASA.

I took the first photo at the Wright Brothers Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, NC, August 2006.
The second photo is a public domain image from NASA.

“A friend of the first man to fly an airplane, Lindbergh lived long enough in a fast-moving world to befriend the first man to walk on the moon.”A. Scott Berg

Isn’t it astounding how rapidly the world is changing?  Maybe it’s my imagination, or my limited knowledge of history, but when I look back at past centuries I don’t see the seismic advances in technology that now seem to be happening faster than we can keep up with them. With the possible exception of the advent of movable type, which enabled widespread literacy and the flourishing of vernacular languages, I can’t see any period in history that has experienced the same acceleration of advancement in many areas as has occurred in our generation.

If we (and the earth, as we know it) survive long enough to be around in two decades or more, will we have early and late life experiences that, like Lindbergh’s, vividly demonstrate “one giant leap for mankind?” There are those among us who can remember life before penicillin and other life-saving antibiotics and vaccinations; before television of any kind; before most people in the US had automobiles; and before reliable and affordable corded telephone service to even relatively close areas, let alone wireless technologies that enable face-to-face conversations with a group of people all over the world, such as some of us have experienced via Skype.

Those are just a few of the areas we could name, but the list could go on and on.  I remember seeing UNIVAC at a regional fair; it was a room-sized computer that could do almost nothing compared to even the smallest handheld device we have today.  I remember black and white television with only three channels, large homes with only one tiny bathroom, and having no place in public that was suitable for changing my baby’s diaper.  But my parents remember radios, outhouses and cloth diapers with wringer washers to launder them.

What do you remember?  What “giant leaps” will you witness before the end of your life?  It’s fun to wonder and speculate about what lies ahead.  Perhaps one day we will be having this conversation in a 3D virtual environment, or even in person (“beam me up, Scotty”).  But we already have marvels enough to enjoy.  What is part of your everyday life now, that you could not have imagined in childhood?

One year ago today:

Eyes turned skyward

12 Comments

  1. raynard

    Julia I remember, the first moon landing and astronaunts drinking Tang. I even remember that space station Skylab . I remember growing up in NYC and all the TV and radio stations. AM was king in our house until the mid 70’s. I go on Youtube and listen to old radio shows along with TV shows.(Have not heard’The Shadow or Lone Ranger and Gunsmoke in awhile..These days ” the latest and greatest is old before you get it out the store. I stay away from malls, electronic shops and( cough cough Wally World errr I mean Walmart. Heard yesterday Macy’s will be open a few hours after Thanksgiving to ” Start Holiday shopping.. Go figgure be blesse..

    • Raynard, do you remember that very brief time when they had something called Space Food Sticks — designed for kids’ lunches and sold as supposedly what astronauts ate? Let’s just say that if they did eat those, it must have been because they didn’t have a choice! I bet John Glenn says “you space shuttle dudes don’t know what it used to be like back in the Mercury days…” I pretty much stay away from the malls and Wally World too, but I had to go there today to pick up some touch-up paint. Getting a parking space is sometimes the hardest part but today I got lucky. Jeff says no way is he doing anything on Black Friday this year but I might have to sneak out to get one or two things… 😀

  2. singleseatfighterpilot

    I remember a time when my little sister was content to take a picture of (the original) Kit Kat. Occasionally, she could shoot something exotic like the amazing 50-gate Atlanta Municipal Airport terminal. “Fly Delta’s Big Jets” was a fitting ad, since most passenger service was conducted on propeller-driven aircraft seating 90 passengers or less.
    Entertainment for passengers awaiting the departure of their flights? Marvel Comics for children, and LIFE magazine for the adults.
    Not Candy Crush and an Internet-streaming football game, via hand-held devices.
    You have, in this blog, often spoken of simpler times. Never in history has there been more contrast, in one lifetime, than the 20th and 21st Centuries.
    Back to your photos: a friend’s grandfather learned to fly in the same type airplane Lindbergh did – a Curtiss JN-4 Jenny – a fabric-covered biplane. The last plane he flew in the Air Force was the super-sonic F-104 Starfighter!

    • Yes, I think it’s incredible how much things have changed with aviation just during the years I can remember. Recently I was telling Jeff how each gate used to be a separate room (at least in Eastern’s concourse at ATL) and not these huge open seating areas as they have now. Plus there was NO airport security at all! People used to go to the gates to meet each other or see each other off, even when I was working for USAIR. I think the rash of hijackings in the 1970’s must have started the metal detector thing. I do remember security was much tighter in Frankfurt Germany in 1972 than anything we had over here at that time.

  3. It’s fun to look back at the advances just in our lifetime. Plastic was invented, changing packaging forever. Space travel will be a reality for the common man in our lifetime. Modern medicine now saves countless numbers of people who a century ago would have died. We are eradicating diseases at an alarming rate. Yields on farms have increased 20 fold over that same century. We now have more food grown in the United States than we can consume. There are still plenty of countries that can’t feed their own population, including China. We’ve seen technology advance so fast that new inventions are already obsolete. Vacuum tube TVs and stereos, The desk phone is almost there. Books are barely holding on as electronic readers are more commonly used. Newspapers and the Postal Office are struggling to even exist. What’s a school these days without laptop and tablet computers? It’s all amazing! Now if we could only advance our social skills at the same rate we’d be getting somewhere! LIKE!!!!!

    • Bob, I sometimes think our social skills are de-volving in a way that is inversely proportional to the amount of progress! It’s like the more technology we have, the less human we become. I realize that’s not really true, but sometimes it seems as if it is.

      • I see the dehumanizing of society on mass transit as everyone is plugged in and tuned out of the world around them. I feel it’s an escape mechanism because people don’t want to get involved with others. It’s truly sad.

        • It is sad, Bob. I used to think it was mostly fear, but now I think we are so into our own customized digitized worlds that we don’t really have much time for people, even our friends. Being involved with people has always been a give-and-take kind of thing, versus electronic stimulation you can just turn off whenever you get tired or don’t want to listen. I do see some signs of hope because I think a lot of people are getting fed up with it all. Time will tell.

  4. Carlyle

    It was only recently that I came to realize that I am actually part of the first generation of heavier than air pilots. My flying career spanned 41 years. At the time I retired I had flown half of the time man had.

    • Daddy, I always thought that you sort of grew up alongside aviation, and particularly the airline industry. You were born shortly after Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, correct? In my opinion you retired at the close of what was the golden age for airline travel in so many ways. I remember our taking the Pan Am 747 “Clipper” to Europe in 1972. If you had told me there would come a day when there was no Pan Am, I would never have believed it. Flying used to be so much fun! I think you picked a perfect time to be a pilot. 😀

  5. Cable TV with hundreds of channels and remote control.
    Even with all those choices I can’t seem to find any more channels of interest than I would on our B/W with 6 channels when I was a child. And for some the only exercise they get would be in getting off the sofa to change the channel.
    -Alan

    • Alan, I read an article awhile back that said we as a society are increasingly stressed out partly because we have TOO MANY choices of everything from soda pop to television shows to dog food to detergent. When I think about how hard it is for me to make a decision, I realize it’s probably true that most of us are overwhelmed by too many choices. Leonard Pitts wrote a column many years ago about how the culture used to be somewhat united around the few shows that came on TV, and he seemed to feel that was a good thing that is largely disappearing. Now there are no (or very few) common denominators, for better or worse. BTW I hate remote controls. When we watch a movie we have to use 2 or sometimes three different remotes (one for the TV, one for Fios, one for the DVD player – ridiculous!!) Plus each one is different and I get tired of looking for the buttons. No wonder I don’t watch TV. Not that reading is much exercise either, unless I walk while I listen to an audiobook!

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