The Things I Miss

by Chris Sherwood

While I’ll admit right up front there is a lot of advantages to being alive in the 21st century, with all the progress and technology, do you ever get the feeling that something’s missing? Something’s not quite right, sort of… I don’t know, out of balance?

Welcome to my world.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the technology available today. It’s definitely entertaining and informative. A world of information and communication at our fingertips. However more often than not we end up throwing out the old to make room for the new, and I’m not so sure we should be so quick to do so sometimes.

So here’s a list, in no random order other than how they occurred to me, of things I find myself missing these days.

1) Basic network television

Crazy, right? Especially coming from someone who not too long ago was salivating over the upcoming final season of Game of Thrones.

Growing up, we had two channels: ABC and NBC. That’s it. Oh, occasionally we would get the CBS affiliate from a channel 60 miles away once the leaves were off the trees. And even then, the picture was sometimes just as snowy at the weather outdoors.

We dealt with it though. Especially during the holidays when the Christmas specials came on. ( Oh, remember that swirling “SPECIAL” on CBS? )

Believe it or not, I have recordings my mother made at that time, since back then a holiday special was on only once, not four times a week ( you listening ABC Family? ) and if you missed it, better luck next year. Anyway, I pulled those old VHS tapes out and watched them one night to show our sons what TV was like before digital satellite. They looked at me like I grew up in a cave.

Yeah, seriously. That’s what TV looked like for the first 20 years of my life.

And for some crazy reason, I miss it. Perhaps the simplicity of, “CLICK, nothing’s on, CLICK, nothing’s on. Screw it, I’ll read a book.” Now we have 150 channels, and yeah, some of them have great, intelligent programming, but more often than not we end up watching re-runs of “Big Bang Theory” we’ve seen several times already. Although with the addition of some new channels to the lineup, we can also watch reruns of MASHAll In The Family, and other timeless classics

2) Local Newspapers

Oh I know they still make them, but they’re garbage. The news is several days old, if it’s even ever reported at all. You pay $1.50 for 4-5 pages and most of it is ads anyway.

There was a time when the content of the local newspapers offered outstanding lifestyle columnists offering various perspectives about life. They’d travel around the region and introduce you to people and places you never knew existed. They’d make you laugh, and sometimes cause you to stop and think.

Notice I didn’t even mention news yet. Yeah, they covered local events too. Got out there with a camera and took pics, talked to people, and let you know what was going on in the next town over.

Then they started consolidating, cutting staff, closing offices until they’ve become a shell of what they once were. And they can’t really blame the internet, sorry, since these cutbacks started before the rise of online news.Some of the absolute best writers in our area were forced to put aside their talents and go find other work; their voices silenced.

Yeah, I can go online and get news there. But it isn’t the same. Some of the people reporting can barely write. There’s no real meat to the story, just some quick talking points they got from a press release or Facebook post. It’s impersonal, rarely very informative.

Besides, who wants to cozy up to a cold, metal object with a hot cup of coffee? Not me, I’d rather have several pages of dead tree in my hands, rustling as I turn the pages in my chair each morning.

And yes, I get the irony of this coming from me, the guy with an online news site. But believe me, if I had the resources I’d go paper in a heartbeat.

3) Being Well Dressed In Public 

Whatever happened to pride in one’s personal appearance? I don’t necessarily mean a full three piece suit like yer man above there, but when did it become okay to be a slob?

To clarify, this doesn’t apply to those just coming off the worksite, out of the barn, or whatever other job site they are on their way home from. There is nothing wrong with being dirty from a day’s work. That’s honest dirt in my opinion.

It’s been acceptable for far too long to go out in public in one’s ratty pajama pants and slippers. If you’re just going to the end of the driveway to get the paper or let the dog out, that’s different. I’m not talking about that. But for God’s sake if you’re going to get groceries put on some real pants, will ya?

And I know it’s still the height of fashion for some to wear their pants saggy, but honestly, I’m tired of seeing guys walking around with their asses hanging out of their pants.

You look ridiculous. Pull up your pants.

While we’re on the topic of poorly fitting clothes, if your gut is hanging out not only over your belt, but below the hem of your shirt, maybe it’s time to get a bigger shirt. And I’m not just talking to the fellas here, I’ve seen women walking around like this too.

You don’t have to be Dapper Dan, but for Pete’s sake people, take a little pride in your appearance.

4) Childhood Security

This one is a little more abstract and will require you to maybe draw on your own life experiences to fully grasp it. However here’s something that may help explain it:

As for myself, there’s a memory I have that puts it best from my own perspective.

I remember when I was a kid in parochial school, 5th grade maybe, looking out the window on those really dark, rainy Fall or Spring days. The weather outside seemed more harsh in my young mind, especially contrasted with the warm, brightly lit schoolroom. There was something about that, looking back, that evokes the same thoughts as Charlie Brown’s example above.

Sure I can have the same contrast now, in the comfort of my own home, but it’s still not the same. Largely because, while yes, I am warm and dry in here, I also know that as a homeowner there’s a running list of concerns. Is the basement going to flood again? Is the roof going to leak? And so on.

Gone are the moments of someone else taking care of everything, and with it, that complete sense of childhood security.

5) “The Noon Whistle”

I never really thought of this as a national thing, but while doing a little research I see that it was.

Those who grew up in the country know what I’m talking about. Every day at 12 noon, the local fire department siren would sound to let you know what time it was. History suggests this was common in rural area to let the farmers and others working outdoors know it was lunchtime. For kids playing outdoors in Summer, it pretty much served the same purpose. Come in, get out of the heat, take a break.

The actual sound seems to have varied from town to town. Here, it was one cycle of the siren’s long rising and falling sound. In other towns it may have been two loud blasts of a horn.

I truly have no idea when our fire department’s siren went silent at noon. I don’t recall any discussion or controversy about it. Out of the blue one day I realized it was just gone.

Some townships still blow the noon whistle merely for the sake of nostalgia, going so far as to have public referendums on whether to keep or get rid of the daily alarm.

But honestly, I think it would be nice to have it back for those of us who tend to lose track of time while working outdoors.

So that’s it, that’s a list of five things I tend to miss. I’m sure there’s more, and maybe I’ll do a follow up and add to the list someday. In the meantime, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts, some of the things you miss.

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