Monday, December 18, 2023

My dad would have loved (and maybe occasionally hated) 2023

This was our living room tech set-up in the 80s, featuring a big old Curtis Mathis VCR and a cable box resting on top of a wood cabinet RCA TV. Displayed on the screen is the 24-hour weather data feed Continental Cablevision used to broadcast. It was a hot, hot day in Wickliffe by the looks of it.

My father was a gadget guy.

He embraced technology, particularly in his later years. Thus, we were fairly early adopters of everything from VCRs to home computers.

Dad hoped to live well into the 21st century, if only to be there for The Next Big Tech Development, whatever that turned out to be. Unfortunately, he died in October 1999, just a little shy of the digital revolution that has irrevocably changed all of our lives.

He would have given almost anything to have witnessed it, I'm sure.

On the other hand, being politically somewhere just to the right of Archie Bunker, I don't know that he would have been thrilled with everything that has happened in the world socially over the last quarter century. And I don't say that judgmentally  positive or negative  but simply as an observation with which anyone who knew him would very likely agree.

As I've mentioned before, we were among the first people in our town to get cable TV in 1980. As I recall, Dad walked a couple of streets over to talk with the Continental Cablevision work crew and find out when they would make it to Harding Drive and what day was the absolute earliest he could sign up.

He bought us a VCR around that same time, and I'm not talking about one of the lightweight, sleek units that would be in vogue a decade later. I mean a big, heavy-duty Curtis Mathis job that could be used equally to watch a movie, record an episode of "M*A*S*H*," or throw at a would-be intruder as a show of deadly force.

We had a home video game system as far back as 1977, when he sprang for a black-and-white Radio Shack Pong console. We also got an Atari 2600 before almost any of my friends. Same with the Commodore 64 and my green-screen IBM XT computer.

The man loved new hardware, and I benefitted from it all as an equally tech-crazy teenage boy.

The first time I used a cell phone was when Terry was pregnant with Elissa in 1994 and I had to be reachable at a moment's notice in case she went into labor. I received the phone on a day I was covering a wrestling match a half-hour's drive away for my then-employer, The News-Herald (which as I recall lent me the phone).

I got into my car, and the first person I called was my dad.

He and I were amazed that we could carry on a conversation while one of us was driving and no CB radio was involved.

Now cell phones are everywhere, and it's sometimes difficult to tell how much of a good thing that really is.

Regardless, if my dad was still around, he would probably own both an iPhone AND an Android.

You know, just in case.

All these years later, I still miss the guy.

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