Contrary to what some might believe, my initial mode of communicating with a non-family member was not via a smoke signal.
As a kindergarten-aged youngster in Jefferson City, I can still remember being allowed to talk to one of my classmates on our black, rotary-style telephone. After moving to Rolla when I was 7 or 8 years old, the color of the phone changed, but the rotary style remained the same.
At some point after my wife, Nancy, and I were married we purchased our first “remote” telephone. In contrast to today’s definition of a remote phone, which enables one to wander as far as the signal will reach from the hand device and the base, in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s a “remote” phone meant you could walk away from the base as far as the long, curly cord would extend.
That was still the type of phone we had when our first four children became old enough to use it. They didn’t always appreciate that even when the cord was fully extended a conversation with a friend couldn’t take place so far away that they could be guaranteed total privacy.
Things changed when we traded in our corded phone for a wireless phone. This allowed them to take the phone and go to the deepest, darkest reaches of the basement to carry on a private conversation.
During this era, when four teens were residing under the Henley roof, getting a call in was easier said than done some days. At a time before call waiting, I frequently heard the exasperating “beep, beep, beep” of a busy signal.
Neither was it uncommon to pick up one of our cordless phones and find it had been drained of power through steady use.
Spring forward to the arrival of the fifth Henley offspring – Anna. While she will use the telephone on occasion to speak with one of her older siblings or a friend, it has proven not to be her favorite mode of communication.
After we were connected to the Internet at home, Anna quickly ditched the phone and began communicating with her cronies via Facebook. Whereas roughly a decade before I would have trouble finding a phone at home not in use, I was now frequently finding Anna perched in front of the computer monitor, her fingers flying over the keyboard.
That changed a couple or three years ago when Anna saved up enough money to buy herself an I-pod. Now she could text friends directly, or update her status on Facebook without having to worry about Mom and/or Dad being on the computer.
The only time Anna feels cutoff from the world is when she travels outside the bounds of our Wifi connection, or when, heaven forbid, something happens that disrupts our Internet connection.
Page 2 of 2 - The latter occurred not too terribly long ago. I was at work one evening when our Internet service at home was briefly disrupted. Because Nancy is not one of those who lives to know everyone’s latest Facebook post, or wants to check every three minutes to see if any new e-mails have arrived, it’s quite possible she would not have even known our Internet was down where it not for the appearance of Anna, who had suddenly found herself cast back into the communication dark ages of the pre-Internet 20th Century.
“Your Internet is not working,” fumed Anna, who wanted to know what her mother was going to do about the unacceptable situation.
Our daughter was all but hyperventilating over the lack of Internet because she was wanting to confirm plans for the next day with her boyfriend.
“Have you thought about just giving him a call?” asked my problem-solving wife.
It was an idea that Anna apparently had not considered. A little bit later our daughter was seen picking up the telephone and putting to use a “new” old mode of communication.