…not that long ago, we lived at a much slower pace of life. Technology has become so instant that we expect everything to happen, right now, this minute. Like when you send and email and you expect an answer back the same day, if it doesn’t come, you start to get agitated. Life is all go, go, go!

I am old enough to remember the days before TVs and computers. In fact, even before electricity. Living on a farm we didn’t have the luxury of power. No flicking a switch for an air conditioner or turning on a fan, to keep cool. Our lights came from a generator. When it ran out of fuel, the lights went out, sending you into pitch darkness.

(Oh I remember those dark nights walking outside to the “dunny”!) The refrigerator was run on kerosene and the phone lines ran across a pole in the middle of the paddock and if a bird hit the wires, or a fire burnt it down, it would be weeks before it was fixed. We were on what is called a ‘party line’ with several other farmers and the only way we knew if the call was for us, was by the ring. Ours was a long ring and two shorts ones. To call our number, you would turn the dial all the way around, then half way, twice or before the dial, it was the handle on the phone attached to the wall. 51D was our number, easy to remember, not like our many digit numbers now and those mobile phone numbers! Who can remember their own, let alone anyone else’s!? One would have to be careful what you said on the phone, as anyone of the neighbours could listen in to your conversation (we could hear the click as they picked it up! busted!) and we worry about privacy now! And what about those timed long distance calls, as soon as the pips went, you would hang up or pay for another 3 minute call. My grandmother was a classic. If she made the phone call, it was 3 minutes tops. As soon as the pips went, `Got to go now, bye!`Clunk!

I’m also of the era of ledger machines. Each client would have a card that you would enter their purchases on from the daily journal and receipt book which was all wriPhonestten by hand. The customer card would be put into the ledger machine and you would enter the amount of the payment or purchase. At the end of the day, this would then print out a total of your daily transactions and had to match the total cash taken. No credit cards in those days, all cash or cheques. The end of the month was a big day, everything had to total. I used to love working the ledger machine. There was also the adding machine with the pull down handle for adding or subtracting and a bright red telephone. Typing letters was done on a typewriter from my shorthand notes.

I was reminded of the ‘olden days’ at my work on Friday. I got to work all day when one of our receptionists went home sick and would you know, the main computer had been throwing up error messages so it was taken away to have a new hard drive installed. Overnight they said. As it turns out, it still won`t be back for the Monday morning rush.

You see, in this modern day, your working life revolves around technology and if it stops working….? How can you go back? We are not really equipped to go without a computer and rely totally on it for all our appointments and payments. Fortunately, several months ago, it was decided to not go totally paperless, or we would not have a way to record patients coming and going or their treatment! However all xrays and reports are now done digitally. No computer, no xrays to view.

Prior to this, my EHD (External Hard Drive) where I backup my Memory Vault, Emails, Storybook Projects, Content, Fonts etc to, started to make weird noises. Windows kept asking me if I wanted to format it. No way! Fortunately, I’ve become very wary of technology and computer crashes, and knew that I had another back up drive in another room and I also had one at my work in the safe. I do not like that sick feeling one gets when you know you are about to loose a lot of hard work and memories.

Things come in three’s as only last week, my iPhone decided to die too. Well not die completely, the screen went blank, I could not see anything on it. According to Apple Support, it was the back light and not fixable. So off I went to the local Apple retailer and came out with the latest iPhone 4S. I could not go without a phone, as I was travelling on my own to the city the next day, 5 hours away on dead straight roads I and wanted to have some sort of contact. Yes, you`re right, what would I have done previously (Less than 5 years ago in fact!). There was already a fire that I saw on the way down, then on the way back several days later it was worse and blocked off two major highways to the north. We were having some extreme heat, with 4 consecutive days over 40c. I ended up taking another route, and only a few hours after passing through there, a fire started and that road was closed. Thankfully I had my phone so I could contact the Main Roads and find out where the fires were and plan the trip home safely.

Thankfully too, iTunes and the iCloud keeps a copy of all my apps and contacts. For my photos I use a neat app called PhotoSync that wirelessly sends the photos to my computer and then it’s just a matter of dragging them into Memory Manager. So technology can really be a good thing…when it’s working!

And to write this blog, I am sitting on my back patio in the lovely cool breeze, typing away on my iPad and my work is being saved to the iCloud or I can drop it into Dropbox and pick the file up on my computer later on. Ahhhh I LUV technology!

PS: My husband fixed my other iPhone and it is working like nothing was ever wrong with it 🙂

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18 Responses to Blog: Once upon a time

  1. Tameka says:

    Wait a minute? Things are not supposed to happen instantly!?! 🙂 Signed, The New Yorker!

  2. pamelajb says:

    Great blog Jenny. There is plenty to smile about thinking of the olden days! I had forgotten about the STD beeps. Those phone conversations where you were all the time thinking that you had better finish talking before you got the next lot of beeps, or if you didn’t say your goodbyes quick enough without giving the phone the “Clunk” treatment, then it was “We might as well talk for a bit longer”, seeing the caller is paying for another three minutes. I didn’t have an outside telephone line on the farm for the first couple of years of our married life. To ring down to the inlaws I had a real old timer! Peter ran a bit of wire between the two houses and it was attached to two of those big wooden box telephones. The mouthpiece was on the box with the earpiece hanging on the side. But OH those kerosene fridges were the best! Especially when they decided to smoke! I remember arriving home one night after being at tennis all afternoon and the fridge had been smoking. Fine black soot everywhere and tired young children. Good to reminisce, but I’m not going back there. Love my mod cons!

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks Pam. Nothing like iPhones and iPads to keep the communication happening now is there. Oh and I do remember the smoking fridge. At least I was too young to help clean it up, so I got out of that one just nicely!

  3. kathy says:

    Thanks for the fun morning read. I still don’t have all the fancy technology that most of you have, but maybe someday. I did not grow up in the time of party phone lines but my mom told us some very interesting experiences with their line. The old generator is still a life savor when our power goes out due to snow/ice, so I do experience that.

  4. Janice says:

    Fabulous blog Jenny. I can so associate with going to the dunny (outhouse) in the dark. Our was out the back – a hole in the ground, that I was always frightened I would fall into and never be found until the sewage truck would come to empty it – yuk!!!!
    I also hated the dreaded carbon paper – and the typewriter eraser, and how hard and precisely we had to hit those manual typewriter keys that I learnt on in Secretarial College – but thanfully the electric typewriter was the next step while I was learning to touchtype and do shorthand!
    Carolyn …. I still don’t have a clothes dryer – and all our unmentionables get hung out on the line in the backyard! I quite love the smell of fresh air dried clothes! We were the only family without a VCR – but we did have a pool, which was much “cooler” with my group of friends in summer. My parents refused to buy one and we made do with a portable TV and an old big box TV. Now my parents have 2 large screen TV’s and a laptop!

  5. Jan says:

    My kids have never known life without a microwave oven, an ice maker, a garbage disposal, or an air conditioner. Kim was four when we got our first computer, and maybe eight when we got our first cell phone. The internet seems like it has always been a part of their lives. They roll their eyes at the idea of VHS or cassette tapes (omg – remember how cool those were for us!). They practically grew up with ear buds connected to something (Walkman, anyone?) The few times that they’ve ever had to use a ‘dunny’ they have been horrified! I’ll never forget taking Kim to ‘camp’ one year and they had flush toilets and real showers IN THEIR OWN CABINS! I’ve always thought that if our political enemies wanted to bring down our country, they could do it by cutting off our power supply. We have almost forgotten basic survival techniques, I’m afraid. My grandparents might not call it progress! Thanks, Jenny!

    • Carolyn says:

      I grew up without air conditioning (all my friends had it), without a dryer (we hung our unmentionables in the cool breeze in the backyard for all to see in the summer and in the musty basement in the winter), without any other kitchen appliances besides the toaster, which only worked on one side, and a dishwasher on wheels that didn’t work at all but had a great cutting board on top. However, when I was last with my sisters, we talked about the time we spent with my parents in the kitchen every night doing dishes and how those times were some of the most important times we had as children… that and raking leaves with my dad. It was forced labor in the form of family chores but I honestly believe that none of us would be the women we are today without having had to rough it a bit. Because of it, however, as a married lady, I’ve always had a dishwasher, at least one dryer, more than one refrigerator and microwave and if Craig ever announced we were going camping without plumbing, I don’t think my reaction would be very pretty. I still can’t believe they don’t have women’s church retreats in resorts here in Indiana as my Wisconsin church did. 🙂

      • Jenny says:

        Carolyn, as do a majority of Aussies except the more ‘modern day younger mums’, we still hang our unmentionables in the backyard, but always on the inside wires hidden with clothes and other linen. Ask Jan, I think she was horrified that she had to hang her clothes (all creased) on our line in the backyard. I giggle to myself everytime I think about it. Most of us have high fences around our properties now, not like in my grandmother’s day, she lived in town and it was a picket fence. Our clothesline on the farm, was a wire strung from the back gate, right across the yard to the garden and if one of the farm vehicles should come anywhere near those white sheets, look out. As for dishwashers! I have one on two legs called my husband. Only my daughters have dishwashers in this family and I agree, they are the family times. I remember my eldest brother would always flick us with the tea towel, oh it would hurt if it hit you. I’m all for the comforts of home now though, even though there is no dishwasher or clothes dryer.

    • Jenny says:

      My kids still roll their eyes at some of the things we have and do. Just recently I reminded them of growing up with Ernie & Bert in black & white. It was the 1970s before we got TV here and on the farm it only worked if the generator didn’t run out of fuel or Dad would turn it off if he thought we were watching too much TV. Like yea Dad!

  6. Ada says:

    Back before those thick blue sheets with no ribbon (Mimeograph machines and stencils) were the spirit duplicators (Ditto machines and purple stencils that you could write or type on), yes Jeannine remembers the lovely odor. Lots of kids enjoyed the odor of those purple copies.

    My mom had a Hectograph duplicator (a pan filled with a jelly substance) used the same purple stencils, but each piece of paper had to be placed on the jelly, rubbed and then lifted off, SLOW. This was a page by page process. I was just old enough for that it was my job to run off her class sets. YUK! None of the fun odor.

  7. jr5086 says:

    Love the word “dunny”………
    I used a key punch machine when I started my first job in an office. Talk about high tech!!!
    Posts like yours bring back some of the memories I put in the back of my head to come out again later. Love it!!!
    Janice

  8. Jeannine says:

    Jenny- awesome blog. But you really do need to stop rubbing it in about your 4s. Seriously! You know how badly I get gadget envy! Oh- and the intoxicating smell of newly run class papers on the duplicaing machines is a high I’ll never forget from my school days! See? You’re not the only “older but wiser” one around here! (I just happen to have less brain smells from sniffing those copies repeatedly!) Great reminders, Jenny. You are always about history- i love it!
    ~Jeannine
    P.S. do you notice a difference in the two iPhone cameras?? Just asking…. ;-p

    • Jenny says:

      The 4S is just a phone Jeannine. Siri doesn’t recognize Australian accents and has no idea where I live. Everything else is much the same, maybe faster, oh and the dual camera is awesome and love that I can now use it as a Torch. Yep, it is pretty cool.

  9. Ada says:

    I love the page also. When I started teaching school 43 years ago, I taught typing on a typewriter that looked just like the one in your page. When I worked in offices before I began teaching I worked on a ledger machine similar to your page. You left out the copy machines that we used back then…LOL!

    • Jenny says:

      There were lots of fun things we used to use, wasn’t there. I remember the duplicating machine, the typing was done on thick sheets with no ribbon so it would make holes for the ink to go through, and don’t talk about carbon paper and whiteout!! LOL…good memories.

  10. Ada says:

    I am laughing hysterically, only because I have been there and done that…every bit of that!

    We did have electricity to our farm, but there was back up oil lanterns etc because the electricity was not real stable. Party line most of the time there were 8 on the party line, we thought we were living high when we moved up to a 4-party line. I remember the Ice Box before the Refrigerator…if the ice wagon didn’t run or if dad forgot to pick up ice in town before coming home we had no cooling.

    I remember one time my oldest child (less than two years old) and I were on a commercial bus going to see my parents. There was a wreck on the highway and traffic was backed up forever and there was no phone anywhere to call…my parents were absolutely frantic when we showed up two hours late.

    PS I still have my 3G iPhone.

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