Many issues ago I related how in 1980, while working for a hospital, I met a patient that was 104 years old. I often visited her while she was still in the hospital. My favorite question to ask older people is who was the first president they can remember from life and not from studying in school. In her case, she related the first president she recalled was Benjamin Harrison. However, her most memorable president was William McKinley because she was only standing six feet from him when he was assassinated. Being 25 years old at the time it made quite an impression on her.
We also discussed how technology improved in her lifetime. During her childhood and early adulthood, the only means of transportation involved either walking, a horse or, if you were lucky, a train. By the 1960s transportation had improved to inter-planetary travel by spaceships. Quite a leap in technology!
My regret is that I did not record our conversations or at least take extensive notes. Now all I have is my memories of what she said over 25 years ago.
In 1956 I was 8 years old. My great grandmother came to live with us. She died at age 99 in 1958 when I was ten years old. As I think back now, she had such a wealth of historic information that I never bothered to inquire about. Imagine: she was born in 1857, meaning she was 8 years old when Lincoln was assassinated and 19 years old when the Custer Massacre took place! She too saw rapid advances in technology. Being 8 to 10 years old at the time, of course, I had no interest in history. The questions I could ask her now!
Recently, my memories of these two ladies have come back in bits and pieces. While marveling how much things improved during their lifetime, it made me start thinking of advances in my own lifetime. Take the telephone for instance. As a child I can remember when every telephone call involved utilizing an operator. There were no dials or buttons to push to connect to anyone; just pick up the receiver and wait for an operator to come online and then tell her the number you wanted. Something like MJ87. Today, as you know, we have gone to cellular telephones that are almost as small as a credit card and fit in a pocket. You can not only place calls to other people, but send text messages, play music or movies, and send photos clear across the world if you want to!
Dont even get me started on the technology of computers and the Internet! I purchased my first computer in 1978. It had only 16K of RAM, no hard drive and utilized 5 ½ inch black floppy disks that held only 200K of data.
If you look back over your lifetime I am sure you will find that you too have seen many advances in technology. Stop and think about it. The older a person is, the more they know about history because they actually lived it! Get things in perspective. While they are still alive, start asking your parents, grandparents, and other people older than yourself about how life was when they were younger. Don't wait until it is too late.