By Pettus Read
On the day that I write this column, I finally reach the age of Medicare sign-up. I have already too much invested in health insurance at the private level to not take advantage of getting on the list for some rocking chair care.
I’ve spent all these years paying Uncle Sam to look after a chunk of money he took out of my paychecks to reach this special time in my life. Plus, the thought of cashing in on my life insurance is just not what I have in mind at this time. My body has been overhauled by removing my gall bladder a few years back, I’ve had my sinuses reamed out by surgery that I would not wish on my worst enemy, and this past year I lost a kidney as well as a foot-and-a-half of colon. I guess after all the body work I’ve had, the government is getting the better part of the deal.
So, as they say, I became 21, turned 30, pushed 40, reached 50, made it to 60, accomplished 65 and hope to hit 70. After that, it’s a day-by-day thing, so the Bible has been telling me for a long time.
I’ve reached the age where the car radio is either on the oldies station or turned off. I don’t have time for this new-fangled, loud-bumping music that you can hear two miles down the road before you get to where you are going. My theory is keep your music to yourself, or risk having your radio knobs permanently removed by one of us old geezers in a Cadillac Fleetwood Deville.
However, my 65 years have really been quite a trip. I grew up seeing television picked up on an antenna attached to the chimney with maybe five prongs for the first time as a first-grader, and today, I watch it as it is beamed to my satellite dish from space.
I started out watching Howdy Doody and Andy Griffith on black-and-white TV and continue even today watching black-and-white Andy Griffith shows on a color digital flat-screen television. I have lived in the era of tube radios, transistor radios, stereo radios, satellite radios, mp3 players and iPods.
My first phone call was on a wall-hung crank telephone connected to a party line. Since then, I have used a dial phone, push button phone, color tone phone, car phone, bag phone, cell phone, smartphone and even an Apple that didn’t come off of a tree. I can remember dreaming of a phone where you could keep it in your pocket, and now at times I wish that phones would just go away.
Communications on our farm used to be the dinner bell ringing for meals or when trouble had occurred in the area. It also included my mother waving a dish towel out the back door to let us know when dinner was ready when we worked in the fields near the house. Today, mothers are usually at work themselves, and if not, they simply call on the cell phone to remind menfolk when lunch is ready.
We took typing in school, and today’s students know about computers at the age of 2. I used to type reports on an Underwood manual typewriter, advanced to an electric typewriter, moved on to a word processor and graduated to a computer with limited memory capacity. Today, I’m using a computer with gigs of memory and enough capacity to have handled all the data from the NASA Apollo missions that took place from 1965 to 1972.
A lot of history has happened in those short 65 years. I was of the Vietnam era, the Watergate happenings, Desert Storm wars and 9/11. I saw John Glenn orbit the earth with my classmates in our community school, Mickey Mantle hit home runs and man’s first steps on the moon. I witnessed Coca-Cola attempting to change its formula and failing, the Beatles performing on Ed Sullivan, and Tennessee going from a blue state to a red.
Who knows what the next 65 may hold. Hope to be around to watch some of it. Maybe even get to keep my Medicare for a while, but that’s another story.