Last week my granddaughter, who attends the University of Indianapolis, called Diane and me for help with a class she is taking. Her assignment was to interview persons over 60 about how consumerism has changed since they were young. She told me she took four pages of notes between the two of us.
I answered in terms of places I lived. The first was Cortland, Ohio, where I lived from 1948 until 1957 – second through the tenth grade. It was a small, self-contained town of about 2,000. My granddaughter found interesting the local locker. Not many persons had freezers, so they used the locker to store produce from gardens and large quantities of meat. I remember when Swanson came out with frozen pot pies.
About the only thing that was not available in Cortland was a violin teacher. I had to go to Warren for those. Our family got our first TV while I was living in Cortland. Mostly we listened to the radio. I still remember the introduction to “The Shadow.”
The summer of 1957, my family moved to Gary, Indiana. This was a big change. The hub of the community surrounded Broadway from Fourth to Fiftenth streets. The selection was much greater than we had known in Cortland. In the early 60s a strip mall opened south of town. This was a completely new concept. While I was attending the Purdue extension in Hammond, a McDonald’s opened near the school. This was the beginning of the whole concept of franchised fast foods.
My senior year I was introduced to the computer. The one on which I did my programs took a whole room at the electrical engineering building on Purdue’s main campus, where I worked nights at the library.
Our family got our first computer when I was appointed to the Albany United Methodist church in 1986. It was while serving the Albany church my granddaughter’s parents met. I do not think that in the 80s anyone knew the impact that the computer would have on consumerism. In time it would revolutionize how we communicate and how we shop.
After the Hebrew people cross the river Jordan, Joshua instructs a monument to be constructed from stones from the river. He then tells the people, “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord.” (Joshua 4:6b, 7a)
One of the great privileges of being a grandparent is telling grandchildren about the past when they ask. In this way, we pass on to future generations the stories, traditions, folk lore and values of those who have gone before. In answering my granddaughter’s question, I was able to give her a glimpse of what it was like when I was in college.
THE REV. DAVE HOGSETT is a retired United Methodist pastor. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com