Three-quarters of a century


Tomorrow, December 4, 2015, at about 5:07 p.m., I will have been on this earth 75 years, or three-quarters of a century. This blog has no rants or raves or anger: it is simply a thought or two about what I have seen in three-quarters of a century. I plan to live until 100, or longer, if that is my fate. And I do hope it is.

Music: Frank Sinatra (who I still love) and big band music was on the radio for the first 13 years of my life. Then in 1954, along came Bill Haley and the Comets with Rock Around The Clock, Elvis Presley and his swivel hips, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and The Royal Teens (where I first knew about Bob Gaudio). In the years 1958-1963 there was pure pop, with the likes of Bobby Rydel, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Vinton, The Lettermen, The Four Seasons (and Bob Gaudio again), and many more. Then we got the British Invasion and Motown. Besides the Beatles, the Stones, the Animals, and the Supremes, we got the Bee Gees. Rock, Psychedelic, Protest Songs. After the end of the 60s, we got Disco. I remember the Bee Gees going Disco, and it was good, but I liked them best during the British Invasion and the Rock Music. How Can You Mend a Broken Heart and Words. Sexy Donna Summer, and what girl alive today, and then, could ever resist KC and the Sunshine Band. He was a sexy man, still around today. And ABBA, all of whom’s recordings I still own.

Then we got into heavy metal – not to my taste, but there were exceptions. Like Nazareth with Love Hurts. After the metal, we got grunge and garage bands. And I was not into that. Jon Bon Jovi with his guitar? Him I still love, but mostly these days it is because of his generosity for people who don’t have a lot. But I ended up mostly with my Celtic music, including having a Celtic Music show on local public radio for a couple of years in the 90s. Through all those years, the underlying foundation of all the music I loved, and still do, was classical. I have always loved the classics. I was in band in junior high and high school; I sang with a very local country western band for a time in the early 60s. I went on to sing Handel’s Messiah and other classics and pop music in the Austin Civic Chorus in the late 70s-early 80s. I played my flute in the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble during that same time, with classical and pop music.

These days I have a cabinet with about 150 CDs that includes a little bit of every single one of those styles of music, but I rarely play them on my CD player any longer. I’m more tuned in to television these days – at the moment Hallmark with all its Christmas shows. I just don’t want to listen to or watch the news these days, and I really do hate reality shows.

Dancing: I was a ball-room dance teacher in the early 60s with Arthur Murray Studios. I think I can still dance those beautiful waltzes, two-step, cha-cha, rumba, and the lovely (but not Argentinian) tango. I also danced every twist, watusi, shake, I’ve forgotten all the names of the 60s stuff. I still know how to do some of the Motown styles I knew then. Unfortunately, I have the knees of a constant dancer, and can’t really do much dancing at all any longer. The gristle that separates our upper leg bones from our lower leg bones has disappeared, and it is rather painful to walk bone-on-bone. I will not ever get fake knees, so I’ll happily live with what I have, knowing I earned them and had a great time.

Electronics: Oh lord, how I could rant about them. But I’ll just talk about them. We got our first TV when I was around 15 or 16. Black and white pictures, tubes, no remotes. If we wanted to change the channels (and there were only three, as I remember), we had to get up, walk up to the TV, and turn a knob. Radios were tubed, and big, like in large cases. Transistor radios came along so we could carry them around. We could buy 8-track tapes, which soon were replaced by cassette tapes for them by the early 60s. I still have some cassettes, and wish I could find a good tape deck to play them that didn’t need earphones to hear them. TVs started being available in colour. Then there were transistors, resistors, integrated circuits. Maybe those are still around. I don’t know. DVDs – I got my first player in the late 80s or early 90s. Now there is Blu-Ray, but I won’t spend the money for the latest incarnation of those.

Telephones: I grew up with a simple black dial phone. I loved them. Then push-button came along; then cell phones which were huge, and few people wanted to carry one. Then we got the small cell phones, and every year some corporations compete to see who can come up with the fanciest, and most expensive, by the way. Now one cannot walk down the street or sit in a lobby somewhere without seeing someone’s ear attached to a phone, or playing games, or twittering. I’ve seen people run into poles or fall into ponds, or any number of things because they are so stuck on them – and I laugh a lot when that happens.

Play: I remember bicycles, roller skates with keys to attach to our shoes, building forts in the vacant lot across the street. I was all grown up before Barbie came along, much less dolls that I don’t even recognize as dolls. I played jacks, with real metal jacks, and hopscotch, and jump-rope, and tinker-toys. I made my own paper dolls. I loved, and still love, board games. So don’t even try to talk to me about video games; I have no clue what you are talking about, and wonder who all those fat little pasty-skinned (meaning no sun) kids are about.

Home appliances: Stoves, refrigerators, toasters, washing machines. That is about my best memory of what used to be. Today, I own a microwave and a blender. I have even bought an electric can-opener for when I don’t have the strength to use a regular non-electric one. Mostly it is for when my wrist gets too weak for the person-power I need. I cannot imagine owning a house-cleaning robot.

Schools: I got a great education. I don’t know what is going on now, but I know writing with fountain pins and pencils is going away, except for the very youngest, I guess. I remember when a box of 64 Crayolas was a happy surprise. I know how to spell properly, and how to write a sentence with a noun, a verb, and a direct subject. I know what an adjective and an adverb are. I know how to parse a sentence. These, I fear, are lost arts, and with this thing called Twitter, spelling is going by the wayside. I won’t even talk about math.

Yes, I have a laptop computer, and used computers from about 1984 in my jobs. I love computers and computer nerds, but I have no need to buy every new one that comes about. I have a Facebook page, I do my banking on-line, I have an email account, and I write these occasional blogs. No complaint here, but I still don’t know how to move pictures around.

I am a courteous, civil, civil-minded, soft-talking woman, polite to everyone – at least until they treat me unkindly – at which time I put them behind me, and ignore them, and keep my optimistic outlook, at least in my own life and manners. You don’t see a lot of that today. Sad.

Politics: I got involved in politics in 1952, when I was 11, and liked Ike Eisenhower. I was not old enough in 1960 to vote, but I was a Nixon fan who soon fell in love with John F. Kennedy. I was eligible to vote for the first time in 1964, but I didn’t – I couldn’t vote for Goldwater, and wouldn’t vote for LBJ. I would have voted for Bobby Kennedy, but I didn’t get the chance. I liked the elder George H. W. Bush, and backed him in all of his running for office through Reagan – my first, in my mind, bad choice. I even went for GHWB the first time, but was through with that party in 1991. I voted for Clinton, and have been a Democrat since Howard Dean, who was defeated by John Kerry, who was defeated by GWB. I loved Obama, still do. Today I am an ultra-liberal, Socialist Democrat, and I weep for my country.

Wars: I was born when London was being blitzed by the Germans. I was a year old when Pearl Harbor came along. I saw uncles go to war, but not my dad – who wanted to, but was not allowed in the service. No matter, like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, my dad did everything he could for that last, great, war. I have little memory of Korea, though I was once married to a man who was in Korea. Then, one after the other, Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq again – none of which were worth the price paid by our men, and now men and women. I saw almost a whole generation lost in Vietnam – people my age and younger. What can I say? Republicans will keep us in war. I don’t want to see more young men and women losing limbs, brains, and lives to the war machine, and the costs. And that is all I’ll say.

I don’t know what I’ve left out. I have just seen so much, and worked many years, and been through hard times and good times. I have had to remain independent, and to care for myself. I gave up children during the 60s, but today I am friends with one daughter and several grand-children, several nieces and a couple of nephews, and even one great-grandchild. I have had to learn to not be selfish and to love my life as it is today – and to appreciate what I have. And I have a lot, including my health. I know my generation needs to die out, possibly the one behind me, but I have hope that grandchildren and younger will learn how to bring good life and tolerance back to this crazy world I live in. No matter what comes, I will adapt, but I will never lose my optimism and my love for friends, family, and country through whatever of my life is left.

I believe the next 25 years of my life, or whatever I have left, will remain good or me. I have great hopes that civility will return, and that will make this world a decent place to live again.

Carol Stepp
Austin, TX

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About carolstepp

Music is about the most important thing in my life, and I follow a large number of musicians, particularly Irish, Scots, Classical, Crossovers of any of these. I was writing a blog about Celtic Thunder regularly on MySpace, and now I have left them after a year, and will start writing my blogs here. I am 70, retired, living on Social Security, and have a lot of social network fans.
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