The Early Times of Technology

Technology has changed and has entered into every aspect of American lives. Though it’s a tool to make lives easier, it’s hard for older people to keep up with the massive and quick updating of new technologies.

Pat Jeschke, a former elementary school secretary, grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin but currently lives in Vancouver, Washington. Now 75 years old, she grew up as a young girl when technology just started developing.

When Jeschke was nine years old, she remembers television was a fairly new invention. Her family would get together in the early to mid 50’s to watch the black and white cartoons and TV shows.

“TV was a lot different than it is now,” Jeschke said. “There was no sex on TV at all, like there is (today). There was a lot of family type shows and cartoons. I remember one of the programs I liked to watch was on every Friday night and it was called ‘I remember Mama’. It was about an immigrant family.”

Jeschke also recalled that television was only shown for a few hours a day, and most likely the screen would be blank for most of the time. A lady would close the TV show every night by singing the national anthem, which is not done nowadays.

“As a child, I watched ‘I love Lucy’, ‘Hoowdie Doody Day’, ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’, and ‘Steve Allen,’” said Jeschke. These shows were comedy, cartoons, variety shows, and talk shows. But ‘I remember Mama’ was Jeschke’s favorite, she said, and she didn’t like to miss it.

Movie theaters were also around when Jeschke was a child. She said a movie cost ten cents, and she would go with her siblings occasionally.

The main source of news would be the radio and newspapers. The radio would play spoken word programs, used sound effects, told stories, and played music, she said. Religious programs were popular as well. Breaking news would also be broadcast on the radio.

Jeschke’s favorite music was in the late 50’s. She compared rock music then to now — saying she definitely enjoyed it more then because it was softer.

Telephones were also a technology that was used and appreciated.

“At the time, we had party lines, and you had to share your line with somebody else,” said Jeschke. “Maybe you would have two rings, one long and one short.”

What fascinated her about telephones was that people could make long distance phone calls from within their own homes without going to dial a operator at a phone company.

“Out of high school, I became a telephone operator… I was so fascinated by it,” said Jeschke.

Jeschke said she doesn't think that technology in the past was developing as quickly as it is today.

Jeschke: “Well, of course technology was always developing, but it wasn’t like it is now where it’s just expanding. It was at a slower pace until I would say the 1960’s when they started the Space Program… You would never think then what we would have now.”

As quickly as technology is developing today, millennials may not even think about what it was like without even a cell phone. But Jeschke said fast production can also have disadvantages, as media has quickly spread worldwide.

“I think technology is too invasive,” Jeschke said. “I think so much privacy has been lost. I think we’ve opened ourselves up for abuse by it. It’s a good thing for kids to be knowledgeable and proficient… but it also opens the doors… it’s too free. It’s not right.”

From the perspective of an elderly woman who grew up with new technological inventions and embraced them herself, Jeschke now personally believes they have caused damage to society.

“I myself personally have caught things on the news that they say, that aren’t right, or correct, and yet they bring it across as such. I want to say there’s exaggeration, it’s twisted for the audience to try to influence them,” said Jeschke.

Although news is spread through newspapers and television, it doesn’t mean that information is correct — especially since fake news is prevalent in our society. Jeschke is a strong believer in fact-checking, and not being gullible to the misinformation some media spread.

“I think technology is stressed too much, to the point that people do not socialize one on one like they used to and that’s missing in society,” Jeschke said. “To have relationships with people, you have to have that.”