From Texas Standard:
Things are different in now in Texas.
When I was a kid, I had to go inside to make a call. Now I often have to go outside to make one. They call this progress?
In my childhood we had one phone on the wall that we all ran to answer, just to find out who was calling. Now we all have our own phones and we know who is calling before we don’t answer it.
We used to stay in the truck to get gas and go inside to eat. Now it is the reverse. We get out to pump our gas and go through the drive through for food.
Kids once drank out of a hose and now they run from that beautiful experience, right on inside for bottled water.
Only 1 in 5 of us are rural anymore, though many city people do try to hold on to a little farm or ranchito for weekends.
The small farmer is disappearing and being replaced by the monstrous commercial farms where tractors never sleep. Even the small farmers today are likely to use GPS and long-range weather forecasting, something their grandfathers would have considered blasphemy. As one old farmer I once knew would say, “Don’t watch the weather man, watch the animals. They’ll tell you what’s comin’”.
Gas was 35 cents a gallon and someone else pumped it and washed your windshield and vacuumed the truck, too. Air and water were free. Now it’s a dollar for air. A dollar for good Texas air! I never expected to pay for a drink of water, but to pay for air? That is beyond anything I ever thought possible.
Sundays were quiet back then. All shut down. Everything except restaurants and movie theaters were closed for family time. Blue Laws they were called. Those are gone. The Blue Light Special took their place.
We had three channels on TV. Now 300 and nothin’ on.
Most food was cooked and eaten at home. Eating out was rare. Now many people eat out most every meal.
Families used to sit down and eat most meals together. Now that seems to happen only Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Dinner was at noon. The evening meal was supper.
One TV per house. Now there are TVs in every room. Sometimes two to a room, competing with each other.
Today teenagers are happier cruising the net than cruising around town. Having too many windows open means something quite different today.
We have more drugstore cowboys than real ones. Roundups are done with helicopters instead of horses.
Cowboy trucks used to be beat up, 4-wheel drive, off-road trucks. Now many of the urban cowboys have shiny 4-wheel drives that have never gone off the road.
Yes, things are different now. But I will certainly embrace one element of progress wholeheartedly: Air conditioning — invented, appropriately, in Houston. In the old days we just sweated all the time. Now we are cool most everywhere if we want to be. And even the word cool is still cool. Never went out of style.
I like that the movie theaters have more than one movie a week. I like the democratization of information and the amazing amount of choice that exists in the world. I am happy for the advances in medicine and the beating back over time, of many of the -isms - racism, sexism, ageism, and ethnocentrism.
Unfortunately, unbridled narcissism is healthier than ever, as common as tumbleweeds in Terlingua and spikes on a horn frog.
W.F Strong is a Fulbright Scholar and professor of Culture and Communication at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. And at Public Radio 88 FM in Harlingen, Texas, he’s the resident expert on Texas literature, Texas legends, Blue Bell Ice Cream, Whataburger (with cheese) and mesquite smoked brisket.