Not So Long Ago

My grandfather Jordan was born in 1841.  There were no telephones, televisions, radios, airplanes or automobiles.  The chief mode of transport was a horse drawn conveyance.  Steam locomotives and the first rail lines had been introduced only a few years earlier.  Great sailing ships still crossed the oceans. At the age of 19, in the spring of 1861, he went off to serve in the American Civil War.  He returned home four years later, his hide ventilated more than once by Yankee bullets, and resumed his civilian life.  Four years later he married my paternal grandmother, Loula Slate.

My father arrived in 1873.  Things had not changed much over the preceding thirty years except that railroads now crossed the continent and steamships dominated cross-ocean traffic.  The telegraph was the chief means of long-distance communication. The first telephone was three years into the future.  At the age of 44, in the spring of 1917, my father, already a married man with three children, volunteered to serve in the Army Medical Corps in World War I. 

I came along in 1929.  Things were very much different from the days of my father’s boyhood.  Radios were now in almost every living room, and most people had a telephone.  Automobiles and buses were the chief modes of transportation, and commercial aviation was in its infancy.  I missed World War II, but a few years later I was in the Army and on a troop ship to Korea.

The fact that all three of us saw military service says something about the stupidity of man.  We mortals continue making the same foolish mistakes over and over again.  Will we ever learn?

There have been enormous changes since the days of my youth.  The first large rockets were developed during World War II, harbingers of the coming space program.  After the war there war a veritable explosion of invention and innovation.  Televisions, microwave ovens, cellphones, and electronic devices of every sort appeared on the scene.  Computers became ubiquitous and virtually indispensable to everyday life and trade.  Worldwide travel by air was commonplace, and the formerly hidden places of the world were exposed.  The first tentative steps were taken toward the exploration of space.  The life of the average person had changed forever.  We are still attempting to sort it all out and adjust to the changes.

Just think, all this happened in less than two hundred years.  What now lies before us?  What will tomorrow bring?

Perhaps we will learn a way to get off this planet before we destroy it.

Anyone ready for the moons of Saturn?       

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