Last week’s 70th birthday nostalgic trip back through the memories of my life tripped quite a favorable response amongst the old geezers who still have eyeglasses strong enuf to read my column.
I got more positive feedback from that column than any other in recent memory, but, of course, my memory ain’t that good any more either. But, since the grayhairs and the “no hairs” seemed to like it, I’ll go on with the theme for another week.
First, let’s take a look at music, since I love music. I can’t play a lick, although I used to sing a bit in my younger days. But, I’m a good listener. My earliest musical memories go back to the 1940s and 50s to my sainted Mother and my eternally good natured maternal grandmother playing the old upright piano in our home and in the homes of neighbors for boisterous sing-alongs with family and friends.
Mom could read music, but Grandma played by ear and knew virtually every song and lyrics that anyone could suggest. Those sing-alongs were usually the grand finale of a chili or oyster soup supper, topped off by homemade ice cream if we kids could chop enuf ice from the ponds to make it.
In those bygone days, a cranked Victrola playing scratchy 78 rpm records was the only “canned” music available, except for the static-laced music we heard huddled close to an upright radio.
From that I graduated into the early days of rock and roll. We had a radio in the milk barn and my pappy, Czar E. Yield, and I competed for the tuning dial. He preferred the early morning news and C/W music on WIBW in Topeka, while I tuned into a rock and roll station every time his back wuz turned. My first record player played 45 rpm records with one song on each side.
Then in college came the 33 rpm long-play vinyl albums. In those, my pre-country music days, we wore out LPs of the Beatles rock and roll and The Dave Brubeck Quartet traditional jazz.
Then during my early-married days in Oklahoma, my musical taste turned to country music — Buck Owens, the Louvin Brothers, Porter Wagoner, Earnest Tubb, Merle Haggard, Roy Clark, Loretta Lynn, Lynn Anderson and Johnny Cash were favorites, and I never missed an episode of “Hee Haw” on TV.
The next musical progression was to 8-track tapes, FM radio, and cassette tapes, and finally into compact disks (CDs). Which brings me to today’s digital music, a computer loaded with more than 4,000 songs, an I-Pod about a 10th the size of a bar of motel soap with the same number of songs that I can play anywhere, including my pickup truck. The quality of digital music is amazing.
My entire career has been about words and writing, editing and publishing. On the writing end, it started with block letters, then long-hand writing and the manual typewriter, then progressed to the electric typewriter and ended with the computer keyboard and screen.
From the copy preparation, editing and publishing end, my first university journalism course wuz manually setting type from a California job case. At Bea Wilder U., I wrote for a college newspaper where the hot lead and bismuth type wuz set on Linotype machines and formed into pages with lead spacings molded on a Ludlow machine.
As I got into publishing, the era of cold type wuz in its infancy. Typesetting machines that crossed my professional path were the Photon, the Compugraphic Jr. that set one line of types at a time, the Compugraphic II and IV that set, first eight lines and then 32 lines of type, at a time. We had light tables, hot wax machines, X-Acto knives, page rollers and FAX machines. Then, computerized typesetting hit me like a bolt of lightning, until today when I can write, edit, compose pages, integrate digital photos and send them to anyone, anywhere in a split second with an e-mail.
The photography went from a box camera, to a press camera with flash bulbs, to twin-lens reflex cameras with electronic flash units, to single-lens 35 mm cameras with built-in flashes, to today’s cell phones and I-pads with built in camera. The films went from Kodak black and whites, to Kodachrome color, to digital. Dark rooms and harsh chemicals and silver recycling gave way to no-film digital photography with computer editing and PhotoShop.
In short, the technological breakthroughs have been miraculous. Who knows where it will end up? I can’t fathom a good guess.
So, staying with the theme of progress, I’ll end this week with three wise quotes on the subject. Frederick Douglass said, “I am a Republican, a black, dyed-in-the-wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress.” C.S. Louis said, “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” and JFK said, “The best road to progress is freedom’s road.”
Have a good ’un. ❖