My Dickensesque Existence

“Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.” – Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

The voices in my head are at it again.  This time, it’s an internal struggle in an attempt to answer the question of whether or not I was brought into this life too soon, or too late.

You need look no further than my vast collection of Al Jolson music, literary classics,  and my propensity to gravitate towards  Turner Classic Movies to see that I could easily fit into that era.  On the other hand, with technology growing by leaps and bounds, I sometimes worry that my time on this planet will end before anyone utters “to boldly go where no man has gone before”, and then does so.


Previous experiences (some medical experts have incorrectly referred to them as “episodes”, but whatever) have taught me that the only way to silence the voices, sans medication, is to come to a mutually acceptable compromise.  In order to do so, data must first be compiled, and in typical OCD fashion, data shall be compiled in list form.

Things I’ve Experienced That Future Generations Likely Will Not: (Clumsy, but you get the drift)

  • Roaming, exploring & playing outside. (good)
  • Carrying buckets of coal up from the cellar & stoking the kitchen and parlor stoves. (bad)
  • Books, books & more books. (good)
  • Holding the TV rabbit ears so the rest of the family could enjoy this week’s episode of Sea Hunt. (good)
  • The Flintstones. The very first thing I ever saw, in color, on TV. (good)
  • Using a rotary telephone. (good) – With a party line. (bad)
  • Turning 18 1 month after the Vietnam conflict ended. (good)
  • Typing 6 copies of 20 page arrest reports on a manual typewriter, using carbon paper. (bad)
  • Having the ability to fix my own car. (good)
  • Having a choice of 4 or 5 different drive-in theaters on weekends. (good)
  • Seeing all 5 Planet of the Apes movies at an epic, all-nighter drive in. (good-vodka may or may not have been involved)
  • Experiencing the very first episode of the original Star Trek series. (good)
  • Going to school, the movies, the playgrounds, or stores without ever worrying about being shot. (good)
  • Having to wait until the library opened to get the answer to any questions, because we couldn’t afford a set of encyclopedias. (bad)
  • My first computer being a Commodore 64. (good)
  • The sound of my modem dialing into the AOL account. (bad)
  • The likeminded people I connected with in the original, and sometime rancorous AOL chatrooms. (good)
  • The timeouts I received from AOL for acting the fool in their chatrooms. (bad)
  • Living through all the great innovations that have made my life infinitely better, like the microwave oven. (good)
  • Adding Super Glue & Velcro to that list of great inventions. (good)
  • Having a front row seat for startups like Apple, Google & Microsoft (good)
  • Being old enough and wise enough to stay out of trouble (mostly) by the time the internet blew up and social media came along. (good)


Things That Future Generations May Experience But I Likely Won’t:

  • I can list scores of sci-fi type things here, but who really knows?  I’ve alluded to voices in my head, not a crystal ball.

In any event, there are enough “good” things listed above to convince one of me that I’ve been here at just the right time.

In conclusion, I’ll leave you with another Dickens line. The man either had some great foresight, or the voices in his head had that crystal ball.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…..” – A Tale of Two Cities (1859)



4 thoughts on “My Dickensesque Existence

  1. A-ha-ha-ha-ha! Love it! I, too, remember “playing outside.” I also remember visiting my mother (who has yet to use an ATM) in the early part of this century, and not being able to dial out on her ‘rotary,’ so greatly had my ‘technique’ atrophied… And today, as a former academic librarian, I still marvel at libraries, even those without books, as places of respite and a type of holiness… But Al Jolson? Well, I still love you, Jim! Redeem thyself by filling in the blank (without Googling, mind you): There’s a town I know, where the hipsters go, called __________ (twist, twist).”

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