Below is my stepdad's column from this past Sunday. He is the Managing Editor of the Henderson Daily News in Henderson, TX.
I don't think the column needs a big introduction, so here's the text. I think it is just great. I've read through it a few times already. And if you know my stepdad and mom at all, you're probably smiling right along with me.
Can y'all hear me now?
By TONY FLOYD
Henderson Daily News
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Let it be known that I really am committed to keeping current with modern telecommunications technology as the years go rolling by. It's really not optional around here, because ever-changing technology is such an important part of what we do in this business.
I mean, one just can't afford to let these youngsters run circles around him on a computer.
Even so, my old-school, hayseed true colors sometimes come shining through for everyone to see.
It's like that old saying about taking the boy out of the country but not being able to take the country out of the boy. Welcome to my world: There's not much chance of polishing me up.
I was reminded of this station in life a few days ago when we installed a Web camera on wife Jimmie Ann's personal computer, and scheduled a time for an online visit with our son's family in Frisco.
The Web cam was a Christmas gift from the oldest daughter's family, including five-month-old granddaughter Eisley, in Kentucky. It was the perfect gift for my wife, who can now see her new granddaughter growing up via the Internet.
For all you codgers, a Web cam facilitates face-to-face visits on a computer screen. In our case, the fist-size camera and microphone are attached to the monitor, allowing both parties to see and hear each other.
Pretty amazing stuff, even by today's standards.
After we made all the necessary downloads and adjustments and hooked up with our son's family, we sat down for a nice visit. Jimmie Ann had tried it the night before, visiting with the kids in Kentucky.
When I got home, I could tell she was pretty proud with her new technological prowess. The session went fine, she reported, strutting around as if she had launched the space shuttle.
The next night, it was my turn. When I took a seat in front of the monitor and camera, I was somehow compelled to raise my voice as if we were chatting with tin cans connected by a string.
She kept elbowing me, reminding me there was no need to speak so loudly. But off I went at the top of my lungs - or so I'm told - for the entire session.
I was reminded of my mother, who to this day still speaks into a telephone as if she were talking into one of the old crank-style models with the extended mouthpiece, which were common in her youth in the 1930s. Usually, we can hold the phone at arm's length and have no problem hearing her.
In the Internet Age, I had become my mother.
I'm sure the kids will be amused for some time about their hayseed Dad hollering into the Web cam during that initial chat session.
Let 'em laugh - they know nothing about the forces that helped shape this old-timer. For one thing, I'll bet they've never even heard of party lines, which were still quite common when I cut my telephone-talking teeth.
Many of you will remember party lines, too, but it's not something our children would know about.
Years ago, country folks who were lucky enough to have telephones in their homes were forced to share lines with others. If someone else was talking, too bad. It was the source of a tremendous frustration for people who shared a line with a motormouth. It also allowed gossips to eavesdrop on others' phone conversations. And, naturally, busy signals were common for people stuck on party lines.
“Get off the phone, I'm a-talking long-distance!” I remember them saying when I was a kid. “Well, how much longer are you going to be? You've been talking all day” would be a typical response.
Back then, most town folks had private lines, but they were still pretty rare for country folks. We lived out in the country.
So, the next time I'm chatting with the kids and grandkids on the Internet, I'll be sure to remember that slates, smoke signals, party lines and other ancient forms of communication were a long, long time ago.
I guess this Internet thing is going to catch on.
Tony Floyd is Managing Editor of the Henderson Daily News. His column runs on Sunday. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright 2009, Henderson Newspapers Inc.