What’s Next? Driverless Cars?

I’m so old I can remember when students covered their textbooks with clean brown paper to prevent damage.

Most students used brown paper, but not me. I pride myself on being a divergent thinker. I decided to dress up mine with …………….aluminum foil. By noon, the foil had ripped and the teacher was so exasperated with the noise, she made me remove it.  I returned the next day with boring brown paper. Some teachers have no appreciation of creativity.


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I’m so old I can remember when we had mental math in school.
(Doing math in your head sounds better.)

The teacher would call out the numbers quickly: three times four, minus six, plus ten, divide by four, divide by two, plus twenty, divide by two, times nine, plus one hundred, times zero, plus fifty, minus ten, divided by ten, minus two.
What was your answer?

Intelligent Group Of Young School Children

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I’m so old, I can remember when students used foolscap.

In Nova Scotia, parents had to supply their children’s school supplies. When I was in Grade 3  the teacher asked each student to bring foolscap to school. Little Melda from West Head took it literally and begged Mom to make a Fool’s Cap. Then I went next door and asked Gagie to make one. (I thought it was the same thing as a dunce cap.) Eventually, they  explained it was simply a type of lined paper.

funny dog card with a pug wearing a dunce hat looking at an appgraphic design elements

I’m so old I can remember when people used maps for directions.

I used to teach an Ontario Unit to my grade four class. First, the students had to learn how to unfold and fold a map. That could be a challenge in itself. Students learned about how to use the legend. The best part was racing to locate places by using the letter and number grid.

Blue coffee mug and paper with ballpoint on map, preparation for

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I’m so old I can remember when schools taught Roman Numerals.

It was one of my favourite units. (Probably because I was good at it.) Unfortunately, the Romans forgot to include zero and numbers became unwieldy. I still look for the year in Roman Numeral at the of movies. I was born on IX / XXVII / MCMLVII. When were you born?  I=1, V=5, X=10, L=50, C=100, D=500, M=1000

Roman numerals on bridge in Bath, UK

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I’m so old I can remember when children played outside for hours
and nobody got kidnapped.

We played tag, played hide-and-seek, rode our bikes, played on the swings and built forts. Hopscotch was my absolute favourite activity. We played with  the Skip-it Toy  for hours or until it broke.

There was skipping, too.  I could skip forever, but I did not master Double Dutch. Boohoo.  Just for fun, ask your children or grandchildren what Double Dutch means. Even better, ask them what a skipping rope is. Hahaha!

bigstock--132131678 -cars-edited


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I’m so old I can remember when we learned printing in Grade 1 and cursive writing in Grade 3.

Printing and writing? Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! It took hours of practice to get the right number of humps and bumps for a cursive m and w. Years later, I got to teach my students to write. All the letters were supposed to lean forward. Why did some students’ writing naturally stand up straight or lean back? Is your handwriting as unique as your fingerprint?

cursive writing Uu

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I’m so old I can remember when the  8-track tape was cutting edge technology.

Teenagers rushed out to buy them along with 8-Track players. The tapes worked flawlessly for a while. However, at some point, the tape would stretch or get tangled and the music sounded warbly. Their popularity was short-lived, but I am willing to bet there are thousands of them packed in boxes in basements. Do you have some?

8-track tape

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I’m so old I can remember when people wrote letters.

My sweetheart and I wrote to each other almost every day. Blush. Just this summer, in West Head, I found a very old love letter written to one of my brothers. I wonder which one?  Ooooooh, the suspense. Blackmail maybe?

Love Letter

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I’m so old I can remember when there was a pay phone on every corner and it only cost ten cents to make a call. (It would appear that phone booths have been replaced by TIM HORTONS.)

A while ago, our grandson, Isaac, was playing with a payphone at the Halifax Via Rail Station. He  had no clue what it was, but he thought it was fun. Have you tried to find a payphone lately?  They are as scarce as hens’ teeth  because nearly everyone has at least one cellphone. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cat and dog have one too.
Cats taking a selfie with a smartphone

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I only mention these things for a little fun. I do not want to send your blood pressure skyrocketing. We are not the first generation to complain about how young people cannot spell, cannot make correct change, cannot write legibly, and cannot carry on an intelligent conversation. It is commonplace for one generation to complain about the next.

Have a look at this quote from an article that appeared in The Guardian:

English has had abbreviated words ever since it began to be written down. Words such as exam, vet, fridge, cox and bus are so familiar that they have effectively become new words. When some of these abbreviated forms first came into use, they also attracted criticism. In 1711, for example, Joseph Addison (1672-1719) complained about the way words were being “miserably curtailed” – he mentioned pos (itive) and incog (nito). And Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) thought that abbreviating words was a “barbarous custom”.

I appreciate cellphones, calculators, CT scans, MRI machines, computers, the internet, FitBits and the GPS. In fact, I cannot imagine life without them.

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - June 22, 2015: New wearable Apple Watch
All of this caused some serious rumination, however. I’ve been pondering:

  • At what age do we cease to embrace new things?
  • At what age do we begin to think the way we did it in our day is the best way?
  • At what age do we declare the music of our children is chaotic noise?
  • At what age do we complain that today’s television shows are not as good as the ones we remember?
  • At what age do we declare, “There is no way I am going to pay $2.99 for a loaf of bread!”
  • At what age do we insist we walked to school at four in the morning, with no shoes on, uphill, both ways, in five feet of snow?

I have a theory.  It is not our age that counts. Rather, it happens when we get our first pair of rose-coloured glasses through which we filter the good old days. What do you think?

I suspect none of us has forged a horseshoe, made a corn broom, attended a barn-raising, sheared a sheep, cut the grass with a scythe, sewed our clothes on a treadle sewing machine, hosted a quilting bee, spun wool into yarn, or carried water from the well in the last five years (or ever).

Whether we like it or not, time marches on and so it should. It is wise to keep up with technology. Don’t get left behind like Roman Numerals, the typewriter, the fountain pen, the butter churn, the wringer washer, the threshing machine, the telegraph, the apple press, the steam engine, the sod buster, the bed warmer, the ice box, the spinning wheel, the boot hook, the wash board, the treadle sewing machine, the ploughshare, and the pump organ.

Old Typewriter in a Library

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About meldaclark

It is hard to believe that I have been blogging since late 2014. I will continue as long as I have one more story to tell. I have had the privilege to feature 20 of my favourite short stories in a book called "Life Matters." It is available for just $25 including shipping. Now that's a good deal. Readers' Digest shared one of my funniest stories "Sleeping With Roaches" in their publication called "More of Our Canada." was super exciting for me. The Nova Scotia Teachers' College Alumni Association has posted two stories on their website. Something unexpected has developed as a result of this. I have been invited to share my funny stories at the library, with community groups and retirement homes. I have a great voice for storytelling. You will feel as if you are in the story. I spend a large portion, okay, all day, sitting cross-legged in my Lazyboy chair typing away. I need to add a walk or two to my day. I love my life as a wife, mother, nanny, sister, aunt and friend. From 2004 to 2014, my husband and I operated Monk Funeral Services in beautiful Bobcaygeon, Ontario. During that time, I began to write human interest stories for a local publication called the "Kawartha Promoter." I discovered I enjoyed writing stories and, better still, people enjoyed reading them. When my husband and I are not at home in Bobcaygeon, we can be found at my family homestead in Lockeport, Nova Scotia.​

8 Responses

  1. Mary Collishaw

    I remember all those things and I wasn’t allowed to use the scythe but I rounded up sheep for sheering, used wooden hay rakes (had to be careful not to break the teeth) and carded wool. I guess that is because I was born on X / IX / MCMLII.


  2. Patricia Freeman

    I really enjoyed your blog Melda on the “Good old days”. Brought back lots of memories and smiles.

    Today the students have no idea of penmanship, as they use computers , tablets or ipads in class and all assignments have to be typed..too bad some of these kids missing out on a lot of good habits that will last a life time.


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