Friday, November 11, 2016

On Turning 70

Being 70 is, to many, some sort of milestone. To me, like 50 and 60, it's just another number.
We did have a small celebration with a lovely lunch at the Milkhaus in Milton and a good steak and a few bottles of special wine for dinner at home.
And I did take some time out to contemplate the past.
I grew up for the first 10 years of life in Melbourne before moving to Brisbane.
I used Google Street View to have a look at the old house. It was built for my parents by two of my uncles.
It still looks about the same although the garden doesn't look as well kept and the beautiful street trees have gone.

 My now fuzzy memories of early childhood got me thinking about all the life changes that have taken place over the last seven decades.
First off, my mother was a stay at home mum. Married women weren't a major component of the work force then. I think she had to resign her job when she got married. I know this frustrated her and she did considerable volunteer work as an alternative. The up side was I was not a latch key kid or farmed out to child minders. That has certainly changed now.
I remember the big deal it was to get our first car (Austin A40), a refrigerator (no more ice deliveries) and a washing machine (no more copper and wringer). We got bread delivered by horse and cart. Milk was brought the same way by the milko and dispensed from churns into our billy cans. Eventually bottled milk did arrive.
There were grocery shops (biscuits by the pound from big tins, butter cut from big blocks, flour and sugar scooped out of big sacks), butchers, green grocers, milk bars and fishmongers. Most of our fruit and vegetables were grown in the backyard.
Then, a precursor to what would become a supermarket opened down the road and the way we sourced food was changed for ever.
Electronic household gadgets were pretty much unknown but now we have plenty to play with. What would we do now without the microwave oven?
Bread Delivery

Apart from family gatherings, entertainment was the radio. We used to sit around it like a TV. The afternoon serials were a must: Tarzan, Hop Harrigan, Biggles, Superman and of course Yes What!
Friday night was the movies. We had a permanent booking at the local theater and I, like so many kids, would make it through the cartoon, newsreel and B film then sleep through the main feature after interval.
Black and white TV arrived in 1956. It was just too expensive for most of us. However a neighbour had one and some of the local kids were allocated a few hours afternoon viewing one day a week.
So there I got my Hopalong Cassidy, Mickey Mouse Club, Lone Ranger and Cisco Kid fix. Trying to make sense of what was happening in the "Spin and Marty" serial with only one day's viewing out of five wasn't easy.
TV eventually sent the traditional movie theaters into a severe decline but a new attraction sprang up. Drive In theaters! There was one just down the road.
Burwood Drive In 1954

I have seen recorded music go from 78s to 45s and LPs, to reel to reel, eight track, cassette tapes and CDs.
The big old radiogram was replaced by Walkmans, portable CD players, iPods, MP3 players and now the smart phone. Stereo is now old hat with cinema surround sound the go.
Visually there were video cassettes, DVDs and now digital downloads.
I worked for a company, who in partnership with Philips and Siemans, developed the clear plastic that was an integral part of the CD.
I remember first hearing music from that source at the company exhibit at the K Fair in Düsseldorf in the early 80s.
It blew me away.
Transport, particularly automotive and aviation has also changed.
It used to take days to fly from Sydney to London and was prohibitively expensive. Most people traveled by ship. When my parents went to Europe for 6 months in the early 50s, it took 5 weeks with P&O each way.
My first flight was on a propellered Lockheed Electra. Then the jet age arrived with 727s and later DC9s for domestic flights, 707s, Jumbos, briefly Concorde, and now A380s/787s for international which cut travel times significantly. Sydney to London is now under 24 hours and they are talking non stop flights with the newer generation of aircraft which will make the trip even shorter.
My First Overseas Flight / Pan Am 707 / Sydney-Bangkok 1969

Advances in heath care over the period have been substantial. We have seen all sort of vaccines and antibiotics reducing the incidence of terrible diseases. In my childhood polio was a curse. Dr Salk fixed that. TB and smallpox have virtually been eliminated. And of course there was "the pill"
There have been organ transplants as well as artificial hearts, not forgetting CT and MRI scanners and robotic surgery which I have experienced recently.
da Vinci Robot

Communication technology has exploded. Days of the landline phone and letters are numbered. I remember waiting for ages for interstate calls to be put through via an operator. International calls were a rarity. Telegrams were for urgent matters but then came the telex, fax and now email and instant messaging/facetime
My first mobile phone was like a house brick but now one can be held in the palm of your hand. And yes, it has become more than just a phone.
And who would have thought I would witness the demise of film. For us who thought the Polaroid camera was pretty amazing, the digital camera is a marvel.
A Box Brownie

I first came across computers when I started work in 1966. The company had an IBM System 360. It took up nearly a whole floor of the office building, had a huge number of people working with it, sucked most of the air conditioning from the rest of the offices on hot summer days and produced reams and reams of paper.
My first glimpse of a PC was in the early 80s. Our sales division had just one, connected to the mainframe, under the jealous stewardship of the office manager. It did miraculous things and seemed even at that time this might just be the way of the future.
My first computer purchase was a Commodore 64. Still have it with all its games. It may be worth day.

Then came the internet!
There is really not enough time and space to discuss what affect on the world that has had and will continue to have.
I guess I could also rabbit on about plastics, synthetic fibres, space travel, nuclear energy, solar and wind power and a whole lot more.
But that will do from me for now.

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