Sunday, November 7, 2010


When I was a child, we called it a “television” and everyone knew you meant a boxy wooden cabinet that sat on the floor, had black-and-white pictures, rabbit ears, and only four or five channels that were manually changed by walking over to the set and turning dials. Later, more well-to-do neighbors bought the first “color” television, but “television” itself meant the B&W version. Soon color was so common, that one started saying “a black and white set” if that’s what you had because it was taken for granted that “television” meant color. These days, “television” means dozens of stations, color, cable or satellite, and can range from portables with screens no bigger than a playing card to those huge plasma monstrosities. (And how long before we quit saying “plasma” because “plasma” will be the new standard?)

First there were typewriters, then it was “electric” typewriters, and suddenly it was “manual typewriters” to indicate the originals.

Remember when the only mail there was came delivered by the US Post Office? Now we call it “snail mail” because “mail” is pretty much understood to come through the internet.

A watch was simply a watch. It had a dial, twelve numbers, and had to be wound by hand. We call those round dials “analog” now to distinguish them from digitals.

You never heard the term “acoustic guitar” until electric guitars became common.

Diapers didn’t become “cloth diapers” until disposables came along.

Whoever heard of a “rotary phone” or a “land line” until a few years ago? (I showed my granddaughters my old Ericofone that was James Bond cutting edge in its day. “That’s a telephone? How does it work?”)

The saddest retronym of all has to be “World War I.” Whoever thought there would be a World War II?

(to view a video interview with me on Christmas Mourning:

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