I think our modern day methods of communication are fantastic.
Back in the 1940s when my parents bought our family back to Greenville, my younger brother and I were thrilled when we found out that if there was a fire in town the bells at the old city hall would ring out the number of the fire alarm box nearest the fire. We could count the peals of the bells then look at the inside front cover of the phone book and know what corner the fire was near.
Back then, this was state-of-the-art communications.
It was even more thrilling if we were at my Uncle Ernie Gauvey’s house when there was a fire alarm. He was the fire chief here, and he had an alarm in his house which really raised a ruckus when the main alarm went off at the old fire house. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we prayed for a fire alarm when we went to Unc’s house. Well, at least I didn’t, but my brother Dave could have done that.
We were rather upset when they tore the old city hall down and the bells no longer pealed out the fire box locations. We thought local communications really took a step backwards.
Last Wednesday night I realized our communications are back to state of the art. I was talking on the phone with one of my daughters-in-law when she said, “What was that?” and I heard a terrible THUNK as our windows rattled.
We recognized the “thunk.” It was the same one we heard, or felt, when the gas tank blew up over on Ohio 49 North several weeks ago. Within seconds, we knew what happened and where. We flipped a switch and the scanner blurted out the approximate location and the cause—another explosion, this time out on Ohio 121 South.
I told my daughter-in-law what happened as another call came in, “What was that?” from another off spring. After that there were a number of phone calls coming in and going out as our “family communications” came alive.
“Modern communications?” you might ask, and rightly so. Telephones have been around forever. My mother was a telephone operator when she was a young teenager. Or you might point out I could have used the internet.
But, no, I couldn’t because Bill was on the net when the explosion happened, discussing a knotty computer problem with one of our sons-in-law.
Well, actually even if he weren’t on the net I probably wouldn’t have used it. When I need to use the computer, Bill sets it up for me, and I just type in the message and send it.
When my finger nails are long, I sometimes send messages in several parts. Somehow I manage to hit the send key before I’m finished, so I have to send the rest of the message as part 2, or sometimes as part 3.
Don’t give me the old “you really should learn how to use the internet” speech. I’ve heard it so often I don’t even have to listen to know when to make appropriate replies.
Besides, as long as I have Bill, he takes care of incoming emails for me. Usually he starts by telling me I have email.
I say, “Okay.”
Time passes, as we repeat the pattern several times. If I wait long enough he prints out the message and puts it on my desk. If necessary I reply—usually by telephone.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate March 13, 2002.