These days, automation is commonplace. We have apps on our phones that can handle our payments at the register, and even let us skip the register and pay as we walk out the door. We have apps for home security, and even to turn things on and off from miles away. All that seems so normal to us these days, but imagine this kind of thing in 1956. I know that it sounds bizarre, but someone did think of a form of automation, even if it would seem primitive these days.
On July 19, 1956, a model named Joan Lockwood selected items from a glass case at a completely automated section of a supermarket at the 30th Annual IGA Food Store Convention at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. She put a large round “key” in a matching slot while she pressed buttons to make her selection. The items she selected were recorded on a tape inside the key. The machine tabulated the amount due on the purchases at the same time. It was just one of the systems that was proposed for supermarkets. The plan was to implement the system in the fall of 1956 in key US cities. The three types of automation would be push-button selection in the store, checking of items on special cards at home or in the store, for electronic delivery by conveyor belt to the counter, and after-hours and Sunday automatic shopping of limited last minute supplies at coin machine units outside stores.
The shopping method that IGA Food Stores envisioned didn’t really seem plausible, and for an entire store, but then these days you can order online and pick up your order at Walmart, or have Target deliver it to you. I’m sure that wasn’t exactly what IGA had in mind with there system, and indeed it wasn’t what came of it at that time, but it did start the ball rolling for a type of shopping that we all take for granted these days…the vending machine. Of course, the vending machine can’t distribute everything, but it has gotten to the point of even being able to distribute foods that must be kept cold. It’s a very different type of vending machine than the old IGA machine, but it is most likely the brainchild of that old IGA system.
These days, lots of people have considered living off the grid. It’s almost the latest thing. Most of them really just want to do away with the bills that go along with being on the grid…water, electric, gas etc, but some of them are really wanting to lead a disconnected life. They want to shut off the phone, television, and computer, and just enjoy nature. To me, that sounds like fun for about a day…but then I am more a child of the age of technology than even my kids and grandkids are sometimes, and that’s saying something, because they are technological people, in one way or another. I have to wonder how the off the grid people would feel about it, if they had been Shoichi Yokoi.
At this point, I’m sure that you are wondering who Shoichi Yokoi is and what was going on with him that made him such an off the grid type, so I’ll tell you. Shoichi Yokoi was a Japanese sergeant, from World War II. Shoichi was stationed on Guam, which had become a United States territory in 1898. In 1941, during World War II, the Japanese attacked Guam and captured it. The 200 square mile island, located in the western Pacific Ocean remained in Japanese Hands for three years. Then, the United States attacked and retook the island. As the Japanese forces retreated and surrendered, Yokoi made the decision not to surrender, and he went into hiding in the Jungle. He dug a tunnel, that would be his home while he was in hiding. Yokoi, who had been a tailor’s apprentice before being drafted in 1941, made clothing from the fibers of wild hibiscus plants and survived on a diet of coconuts, breadfruit, papayas, snails, eels and rats. “We Japanese soldiers were told to prefer death to the disgrace of getting captured alive.” While living in the jungle, Yokoi carved survival tools and for the next three decades waited for the return of the Japanese and his next orders…three decades!!!
Somehow, this man was so far off the grid that he had no idea what was going on in the world for almost three decades, and he assumed that World War II was still going on. He spoke to no one. He hid from anyone who might have come near him. Then, he slipped up…a good thing, as it would turn out to be. After 28 years of hiding in the jungles of Guam, local farmers discovered Shoichi Yokoi hiding in the jungle. I’m sure he was totally shocked to find out that he was the only one in the world still fighting World War II!! After he was discovered on January 24, 1972, he was finally discharged and sent home to Japan, where he was hailed as a national hero. I guess Shoichi must have grown to love Guam, because when he married, he and his new bride returned to Guam for their honeymoon. Shoichi went on to live a long life, and passed away on September 22, 1997 at the age of 82. The people of Guam and the governments of the United States and Japan must have though that his story was so amazing that his handcrafted survival tools and threadbare uniform are now on display in the Guam Museum in Agana. Shoichi might have been an enemy of the United States, but I can’t help but think that he must have been a very faithful soldier, to have held out that long.
In some ways, I think my sister-in-law, Rachel Franklin Schulenberg, is a lot like me. She has a nostalgic side when it comes to things of the past, as do I. I think we both wish time wouldn’t go by so fast, or that our children and grandchildren wouldn’t grow up so fast. I suppose that is harder when you have family who live somewhere else, as both Rachel and I do. You just miss them so much when you can’t see them often.
Rachel is a strong Christian, who has the heart of a giver. She tries to be helpful to all who need her help. That is such a great trait to have. So many people these days think only of themselves, but not so Rachel. I’m sure that is partly why she has a number of very good friends. People tend to want to be around people who aren’t selfish. I agree with that. Those are the kinds of people I want to be around too.
Rachel is mother to Cassie, Riley, and Tucker, and grandma to Lucas and Zoey. Her children and grandchildren are precious to her. All of them, except Tucker live in Powell, Wyoming, so she doesn’t get to see them nearly as often as she would like to. I think that has to be the hardest think for a mother or grandmother. You miss them terribly when you don’t see them, and you are torn at the end of every visit, because it will be a while before you see them again. Yes, phones and Internet make it easier to be apart, but they don’t compare to being with your child or grandchild. Nevertheless, not everyone wants to live in the same place, and as they grow up, children have to decide for themselves…at least that’s what Rachel and I keep telling ourselves. Maybe someday our minds will take hold of that thought, but I seriously doubt it. In the meantime, I guess we will just have to continue to cultivate our nostalgic side. Today is Rachel’s birthday. Happy birthday Rachel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When you are young, your cousins are often your friends too. Mostly that is because their parents are related to yours, so it’s easy to get together. Your parents probably get to fairly often, so no play date arrangements are necessary. Cousins are often our first friends, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will remain good friends. Many times, cousins who were friends in the beginning of life drift apart as the years go on. Still, there are a blessed few who remain friends no matter where life takes them, and no matter what life presents them with.
I can’t say how close my mother-in-law remained with her cousins over the years, but I suspect that they might have drifted apart, because she moved from Montana in the early years of her marriage, and without internet, the best way to connect with friends and family was letter writing. Now, maybe she was better at that than I have been over the years, but I think that might have just been because they didn’t have a better way…except the phone, and that could get expensive back then.
My niece Lacey, and my grand niece, Siara are both out of high school and Lacey has started her career, while Siara is still in college. So far, they have remained close friends who see each other when they can. It’s a little more difficult for them now, with their busy lives. Still, they are working through things and keeping their friendship alive, at least for now.
As to my grand niece Christina and my granddaughter, Shai, the future is not set. They are still in high school, and while they are very close right now, things could change as their school days end. I have a feeling that they will be as close as Lacey and Siara have been, but only time will tell on that thought. It is my hope that they will stay close, like many in our family have. We have had several cousin friendships in our family, and personally, I think there is something extra special about them. They are more than close friends…they are as close as cousins.
My niece, Kellie has always had a wonderful sense of humor. She has to be the giggliest person I have ever met. Anyone who is her friend, or who has worked with her can fully attest to that. Kellie likes to do things that make people laugh.
When I call my mother’s on Wednesdays to give her a pill reminder, Kellie usually answers the phone, as she and her mom, my sister Allyn, and Kellie’s sister, Jessi come to my mom’s for lunch on Wednesdays. She is always teasing me that I am interrupting her time, and I should just get off the phone!! She loves to joke around that way.
Kellie has always had a contagious laugh. All she had to do was laugh, and you could not resist joining right in. Even if you didn’t know what was so funny, you had to laugh, because she was laughing, and she made it seem like a laughing moment, so everyone had to laugh.
About a year ago, Kellie followed in the footsteps of her aunt, me and her cousin, my daughter, Amy, and became an insurance agent. The agency she works for dresses up for Halloween, so Kellie has come up with a couple of really good costumes, but this year’s really takes the cake. As an independent agent, Kellie writes for Progressive Insurance, so Kellie decided to go with the popular option, and dress up as Flo.
Of course, as we all know, there can be only one Flo, so I have looked her picture over very well, and I have determined that there must be two Flo-Bots. The first model looked a little too much like a robot, and so couldn’t really pass for the real Flo, but I think this second model has been highly upgraded to look like a pretty good Flo double. Not quite close enough to fool someone who knows Flo well, but as Flo would say, “She’s pretty good…She’s pr-ett-y good.”
Bob and I had always felt that our kids didn’t really need a phone in their room, and for the early years, they didn’t have one. But, when our girls reached the pre-teen years, we decided that since the phone was always for them, and having them talk, talk, talking in the living room made it really hard to watch television, maybe having a phone in their rooms wasn’t such a horrible idea after all. The constant chatter and loud laughter was hard to ignore…not to mention having the girls constantly telling everyone not to listen!!
So, along about the time they were 11 or 12, we decided that Christmas would bring a rather unexpected gift for our girls. We were going to get them phones for their rooms. Of course, there would not be a separate line, but there would be some peace and quiet in the living room. For the most part it brought peace to our home…sort of. There were times when one or the other of the girls took too long in their turn on the phone, and then we would have a few fights. Still, the moments of fighting were a small sacrifice compared to the hours of peace that fell in between. I will never forget the look on my girls’ faces that Christmas morning. They couldn’t believe that they could talk in their bedrooms and not have everyone listening to every word they said.
Much has changed since those days. Pretty much every child has their own cell phone these days…and their own phone number…and it is more important than many people would like to think. A cell phone can be a life line if their car breaks down, or they missed their bus, etc. I know of many parents who don’t think their child needs a cell phone, and that they are a distraction. In some ways, that is right…especially if they are using it during class, but a child walking home alone, who gets lost or is being followed…needs a phone…now!!
I am grateful that my girls have continued the tradition and that their children each have a cell phone. It’s nice to be able to get a hold of my grandchildren whenever I want to. Of course, today things are different. Phones are used in a completely different way…texting. And if you want to keep up, you have to be able to text. I personally like texting, because it allows you to go on doing what you were doing while you are waiting to hear back. And cameras on the phone can be fun and functional too.
Yes, much has changed since my girls’ first phones, but kids haven’t changed. They still get excited about that new phone, and just the fact that it is theirs. They still want the latest and the greatest technology. And what is cool today, will be old news tomorrow. As excited as my girls were with their new phones that Christmas morning so many years ago, today they would wonder if I had lost my mind, because I would be giving them an antique that would be viewed as worthless.
I came across an old friend on Facebook today…one for whom I had been searching a very long time. It was a relief really, to finally find her. Even though I am still waiting for her to respond to my friend request, I feel like I have to write a little bit about what a wonderful person she was…and what a great family she had. Very rarely could a friend spend the night and have the sisters and the friends get along too, but that is what Gale, her sisters, Lynne, Lea Ann, Michelle, and I did. When I would spend the night at her house, Gale, her sisters and I would have so much fun. They lived out in the country, and actually had two houses. The main house, and the little house where all the girls slept. It was an unusual arrangement, I know, but the girls were all old enough for it to work, and all were good girls.
They had, as I recall, chickens, pigs, cows, and horses on their little farm, and I would help out with the chores when I was there…something I found fun and interesting, but I’m sure that Gale and her sisters would disagree with me on that one. We would ride horses, and lots of other fun things that I couldn’t do living in town, so going to Gale’s family’s place was always a favorite thing to do in my book. I do remember a couple of bad things too…well not real bad, but I remember a time that Gale was riding a horse, and she was heading back into the coral, and the horse was in a hurry I guess, so he got a little too close to the fence, and ran Gale’s leg into the fence. I don’t recall if it bled or not, but it wasn’t broken. I just remember being real scared for my friend right then. Another thing that happened was that one of the cows was in a hurry to eat, and he stepped on my foot trying to get into the barn. Good thing it was a calf and the area was a little muddy. My foot sank into the mud and wasn’t hurt to badly. I don’t even think I ever told Gale that it happened, but I sure remember it. Not my last encounter with a hungry cow, as those who have read my blog for a while can attest. I seem to have a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time where cows are concerned. It’s probably best that I don’t spend time around them anymore, lol.
The evenings in the little house were probably the most fun, however. We would watch movies and eat popcorn, and when we would hear the phone ring, then the real fun would begin. You see they had a party line. Now I’m sure most of you don’t even know what that is, but they were somewhat common back then. A party line is when several families share the same line. The odd thing about this is that you can pick up the phone during a conversation…provided you can do it quietly…and listen in on the conversation. And that is exactly what we did. Sometimes it was pretty boring, but sometimes you would hear a boyfriend/girlfriend conversation, and then…well, it could get interesting. After a while, we couldn’t stop laughing, and that would end the eavesdropping for that call. The people talking would start yelling at us to get off…right now!!! And so we did, but we laughed about it the rest of the night. I’ll never forget the great fun I had with Gale and I can’t wait to re-connect with her and her family again…hopefully soon.