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The Last Windrow: Times and technology have changed

I feel a bit dated when I think back to my childhood when the first telephone was hung on our farmhouse wall. The whole family gathered around to hear my mother talk to her mother thirty miles away. It was a magical moment. Metro Creative Graphics, Inc.

We've come a long way since the time when Lamar Jones strung telephone wire along our hog fence.

Technology has truly entered my world. I have this thing in my pocket made of about 10 cents worth of metal and plastic. If I purchased a new one of these things, it might cost up to a thousand dollars. My piece of plastic didn't cost nearly that much, but people can be seen waiting in lines to purchase these pieces of metal and plastic every time a new model comes out. Funny they would do that.

Of course I know that it's not the material that makes this thing that beeps and rings valuable. The value is in the brainpower that created it. I'm told that there is as much or more technology inside this little rectangular box as there was on the original moon shot. No wonder it heats up in my pocket once in awhile. It is thinking.

There are three disconnected telephones in the office where I work. One was manufactured in 1904, the other, a wood wall model, made in the 1930s and the other is a 1950s plastic rotary phone that sits on a desk. I know I'm getting older when I have youngsters, and some not so young, visit the office and they have no idea of how any of these devices worked. They toy with the cranks, and they have a curious look on their faces when they listen to the sound of the rotary dial spinning counterclockwise or the bell ringing on the wooden wall phone. "What are those letters on the rotary phone for?" they ask.

Ordering some item over the phone would have been a foreign idea on the little Iowa farm. The phone was used to check on your relatives and neighbors, call the feed store for a pick up order or perhaps used in case of a disaster such as a tornado or a fire to alert the neighborhood. You didn't order your underwear from the phone.

Today the world is at the fingertip of anyone with one of these pieces of plastic. I've found pieces and repair parts for anything from my bathroom's ceiling vent fan to a gas tank for the 8N Ford tractor.

Things that I would have given up finding in years past.

I can check the ratings of any restaurant or motel on a trip. Although I must say, some of these recommendations might not be totally correct. Those making negative comments because they didn't like the look of the waiter or the cut of their steak might skew how good a business actually is. I take those comments with a grain of salt. But, overall, they tend to be helpful.

My little piece of plastic has recorded great pictures of nature, friends and happenings. I can easily send them to those I think might be interested in the push of a button. Try that on a rotary phone.

I feel a bit dated when I think back to my childhood when the first telephone was hung on our farmhouse wall. The whole family gathered around to hear my mother talk to her mother thirty miles away. It was a magical moment.

And I remember Lamar Jones, Jones Telephone Company, stringing telephone wire up and down our country roads and across corn fields through barnyards and on our hog-wire fence. He was a man ahead of his time. I often wonder if he were still alive what he might think of these little pieces of metal and plastic. I'd bet he would be one of those standing in line to buy the latest model.

See you next time. Okay?

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