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Senior Matters: Marveling…
By Jim Mooney

I sometimes regard these "Golden Years" as a time for marveling. I don't mean simply marveling at the fact that after all this time I'm still here to marvel. I mean that sometimes at night when sleep is slow to come, I find myself marveling over all the changes that have occurred during my lifetime. All I have to do is pick a category and think a bit.

Transportation: I remember, as a kid, standing on the running board of our family car helping my sister fasten in place the isinglass curtains-the windows-because it was threatening rain, or watching my father with the hand crank trying to start the engine. Today I sit in my air conditioned, push-button-operated auto complaining only of the traffic and gasoline prices. And I remember playing ball on the street as a kid and having the game interrupted when one of the boys stopped, pointed skyward and shouted, "Airplane! Airplane!" Today, I look up on a crisp fall morning and see the blue sky scarred with contrails crisscrossing in all directions.

Communications: I remember listening on the radio to the Pirates playing in St. Louis and Rosey Rosewell broadcasting the game from Pittsburgh. I could hear the clacking of the telegraph as the plays were relayed in to him by wire. Today, thanks to television, I go "live" to the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, or a concert in Vienna, a theater in London, anything imaginable. I can picture my grandmother turning the hand crank on the telephone mounted on the kitchen wall and shouting because it was long distance. I compare that memory to the teenagers I see in the Mall today, each equipped with a cell phone that seemingly puts them in touch with every other teenager in the world-or better still an iPod that does everything but brush their teeth.

Medicine: I still have a scar on my neck from "a poultice of hot oatmeal" tied round my neck when I was a kid as a treatment for "swollen glands." So as I sit here today with a heart that must resemble Medusa's head with its profusion of grafts from bypass surgery, I know I wouldn't be here to be writing this if it weren't for the miracles of modern medicine.

Word Processing: The first "mechanical" device I used in writing was my sister's primitive portable typewriter. What I lacked in technique I made up for in powerful strike-overs or paper-destroying erasures. By the time I'd finished college, I'd learned the keyboard, so when I began working for a large corporation after WWII, I was ready to attack my Remington standard with vigor, if not improved accuracy. Although I was hired as a writer-photographer-or perhaps a "photojournalist"- I didn't get to use a computer, a PC, until I retired. Now I have instant "erasures", spell check, grammar check, etc.

Photography: I got my first camera when I was six that took out of focus, underexposed pictures. I had graduated to a 35 mm camera by high school. I had my own darkroom at home. I was unhappy at leaving the darkroom behind when we moved to the retirement community at Sherwood Oaks. True, I now have a digital camera, but what would I do with all the slides and negatives I'd accumulated? Today, beside my computer, sits a flatbed scanner that can do almost everything my darkroom could and do it better. With that "darkroom in a box," I can make prints from b&w or color negatives, color slides, photographs.

This rundown only scratches the surface of the things I marvel at, but I stop at the mention of computers. I can't even begin to imagine all the ways in which computers have affected my life. It's too vast a Pandora's Box to open when I'm lying there trying to get to sleep.

Jim Mooney is a resident of Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community in Cranberry, PA. This article appeared in the September 2007 issue of North Hills Monthly Magazine.

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