xerox machine

Times change, all right

This summer we enrolled the mochis to camp at the local state college campus.  There is a highly-rated academic program in the morning session before lunch, followed by a sports camp in the afternoons.  The first session ended yesterday and the second session begins on Monday.  We were given a chance to see what they’ve been doing all session and brought home a large envelope.  They wrote journals, learned how to use computers, were taught how to create Microsoft Powerpoint stories, learned how to round numbers to the nearest tenths and hundredths, etc.  In sports camp, they swam everyday, learned baseball, tennis, archery (yes, archery – where 5+year old little girls shoot at targets with bows and arrows), soccer, gymnastics, dance, etc.  When camp ends, they will spent the last 3 weeks of summer enrolled in the YMCA program doing similar activities.  So much different (and WAY more expensive) from how I spent my summers. 

When I was growing up as a kid in Hawaii, a few weeks of my summer was spent at Summer Fun, the local rec center program.  They had a ton of activities that lasted 3/4 of the day that included sports, arts and crafts, music, dance, etc.  It ended with a huge summer finale where all the kids performed by age group in a big show for the parents.  When Summer Fun ended, we were on organized sports teams until our parents came and got us after practice.  I would sometimes go to work with my mom, who was the secretary for my dad’s office.  They stuck me in the very back room of the office where the xerox machine was.  This was back in the 80’s so the copy machine took up half the room.  I remember they had an IBM word processor in the front of the office and it wasn’t loud like my mom’s electric typewriter.  It had a black screen and for some reason, I’ve remembering it had orange text.  It might have been green; I’m visualizing orange.  I remember 2 types of floppy storage disks.  One was a giant sized black square, a little smaller than a record album cover.  Then there were these long black rectangles about the size of mailing envelopes, and you were only allowed to hold it from one of the short edges because oils would smudge the film and ruin your data.  When no appointments were scheduled, sometimes they let me type out stories I had made up on the IBM and save them on an old floppy disk. 

I spent a lot of my time sitting on the floor in the back room drawing and writing and playing hours and hours of solitaire with a deck of cards.  If anyone needed copies, they let me do it.  Highlight of my day.  In between, people in the office taught me so many variations of solitaire, I must’ve known about 40 different games by the time I was in the 4th grade.  When I was able to stay home, I spent most of my time up in a mountain apple tree in the back yard with a girl who lived a few blocks away.  We ate the mountain apples and talked and played 20+ feet up in the highest limbs of the tree under no direct adult supervision.  We came down to eat or to climb up the flimsier guava trees to get the thinner limbs at the ends of the branches to make slingshots (guava tree branches were flexible and made the best slingshots).  While up in trees, we shot at fruit targets on far away limbs or other trees, and often hit them.  Sometimes we would trek down the middle of the valley to where the stream ran, collected water from all the waterfalls that surrounded the valley walls.  We caught fish and brought them home to fill our fishbowls.  I remember picking hard seeds from a Job’s Tears plant and when I brought them home, my grandma taught me how to sew beanbags to fill with them and then taught me how to juggle. 

It’s a vastly different world, all right.  They don’t know what they missed out on, just as I never knew what I missed out on.  Tonight just before Big Mochi went to bed, I asked her if she’s happy.  She replied, “It’s hard to imagine being happier,” so I guess in 30 years, they’ll be telecasting off of their holographic cell phone about how they spent their summers comparing it to their kids’ feeling as I do now.  I’d ask my mom how she spent her summers as a kid and how she’s feeling about all of the changes, but she can’t hear me.  She’s busy listening to her Kindle 2 on new earbuds.  It’s reading her latest book to her while she knits a sparkly red something.  New age grandma. 


February 2018
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