Tuesday, July 07, 2015


As my 70th birthday approaches I’ve been thinking about what the world was like on July 14, 1945.

Germany was defeated, but the war in the Pacific continued and would go on for another month or so, depending on whether you consider V-J Day to be Aug. 14 when the surrender was announced or Sept. 2 when the surrender documents were signed in Tokyo Bay.

I was born on a Saturday, the day the first atomic bomb was hoisted to the top of a steel tower in the New Mexico desert. It was detonated on Monday morning, which makes me two days older than the Atomic Age.

We had radio, but no TV. The first TV in the Flora house was a black-and-white Philco table model that showed up around Christmas 1952. Television broadcasts were over the air, cable TV coming into widespread use in the 1980s.

Harry S Truman was president. I’ve seen 12 presidents in my time.

There were only 48 states in the United States and the flag had six rows of eight stars. Alaska and Hawaii were added when I was still in junior high and about to begin high school.

There was no rock & roll. That started around 1956. I remember being fascinated by the new music the summer of ‘56 listening to the radio in our 1955 Ford on the way to Yellowstone National Park and back. Cars had no seat belts and no air conditioning.

There were no satellites and of course no satellite TV or GPS. The Soviets put up the first earth satellite when I was in the seventh grade.

There was no U.S. Air Force as a separate service branch, just the U.S. Army Air Forces.

We lived in a two-bedroom frame house at 609 E. Franklin Street in Delphi, Ind. that had a coal-fired furnace in the basement.

Radios had tubes that took time to “warm up” before they could function. Transistors and transistor radios were more than a decade in the future and lasers were the stuff of science fiction. Computers, especially personal computers, were also science fiction subjects and only the most imaginative visionaries could conceive of the Internet.

Jet propulsion was in its infancy. I remember the first jet plane I ever saw flew high over my hometown when I was on the playground at recess around 1954.

Just about all of the adult population smoked cigarettes. My Dad smoked Phillip Morris and later, Winston.

Beer cans required an opener, jokingly referred to as a “church key.” Soft drinks only came in bottles.

There were no Interstate highways. President Eisenhower, impressed by the German Autobahns he saw at the end of World War II, launched the Interstate highway system as a defense project in 1956. Since state and federal highways were all we had, I can remember vacations with my parents where my dad figured 200 miles was a good day of traveling.

There have been profound changes in every aspect of life since I was born. I’ll probably add to this list as I think of more.

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