Technology provides blessings for the geriatric generation

By Bill Taylor

It seems to me that modern technology truly provides a number of blessings for the geriatric generation – those of us who have somehow managed to survive the proverbial allotment of three-score and ten or even four-score years. Got to thinking about that after we were introduced – via Skype – to our youngest great-grandson who lives some hundreds of miles away. This “live” meeting with the latest addition to our family was rather exciting – especially for great-grandma. Not as satisfying as being able to pick him up for a hug, but it’s sure better than a photo. We no longer travel very much because it’s just too difficult.

Our next planned trip -about a two and a half hour drive – is for a grandson’s wedding. I’m part of the wedding ceremony but the details are being taken care of by e-mail, Skype, and cell phone – a piece of cake. Indeed, we keep contact with family and friends easily these days thanks to modern technology – not like it was when we were young and a “long-distance” call usually meant a family emergency.

Yep, modern communications are a true blessing for us old-timers – but that’s not all. One characteristic of “seasoned citizens” is that we like to reminisce – you know, talk about how it was in the old days. These nostalgia-filled memories kinda make us feel content – almost like comfort food for the mind. One subject in particular that frequently comes up are the old time TV and radio shows we enjoyed so much. Well, thanks to modern technology a lot of those performances are becoming available for us to appreciate once again.

Yep, several TV channels, both cable and over-the-air, are now carrying such memorable programs as the long-running “Gunsmoke” – renowned as the first western with “adult” story lines. [Note: Interestingly enough “Gunsmoke” originated on radio and progressed to TV while another popular “adult” western series, “Have Gun, Will Travel”, began as a TV show which gave rise to a radio version – but I digress a bit.] Anyway we can once again enjoy the decades-old sci- fi western exploits of “The Wild, Wild West” – the same episodes we watched with our children many years ago. Sure brings back wonderful family memories. But there’s more to the resurrection of these old programs than just the nostalgia value to us old timers.

Yep, a whole bunch were excellent in their own right – and their distinct quality is still valid today. The old black-and-white Perry Mason courtroom series is still intriguing as are the adventures of Starship Enterprise of the original Star Trek. Yep, lotsa neat stuff being revived. One old time TV program we particularly look forward to on Saturday evening is the Lawrence Welk show which we began watching some fifty or so years ago.

Although its been several decades since the last original broadcast, this program still provides unmatched entertainment with its big band sound, talented singers who enunciate words clearly whether solo or in groups, and world class musicians and dancers. Each week Arthur Duncan continues to demonstrate his mastery of the almost extinct art of tap dancing and Bobby Burgess performs dazzling dance routines with one of his partners such as the beautiful Cissy King. I still marvel at his upper body strength as he was able to lift Cissy and hold her aloft, often using only one arm, while continuing to execute intricate dance steps.

TV programs are not the only modern technology mechanism helping us get our nostalgia kick. Satellite radio provides us with old-time radio shows from the golden age of radio – the days long gone by. Here’s a recent sample of just some of these shows: “Gunsmoke”; “Have gun, Will travel”; “Suspense”; “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar”; “The Shadow”; “Fibber McGee and Molly”; “Jack Benny”; and, “Lights Out”. Then, too, there are programs touting products in their title such as “The Lux Radio Theater”, “The Chase and Sanborn Hour with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy”, and “The Philco Show with Bing Crosby”. And while on the subject of products, many of these old radio presentations still have commercials for items such as Fitch shampoo, Swan soap, and Teel liquid alternative to tooth paste – all of which have faded into history. Kinda fun hearing those old commercials.

Well, life is surely more pleasant with these technological capabilities but their benefits aren’t necessarily limited to us old timers. After hearing an old radio show, one of our grandchildren said in awe, “Grandpa, it’s like having a TV in your head.” Maybe – just maybe -.some of this old time stuff might have new, younger audiences. At least that’s how it seems to me.

By Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at