Yeah, I’m old school, but I get by



Ted Escobar

Pat answered the phone and, by her first few words, I could tell she was talking to our daughter, who had just arrived in Munich, Germany.

After a bit, Pat handed the phone to me. Jenny’s voice was as clear as if she were speaking from next door.

I started to say something about local connections that sometimes aren’t connected or dropped calls, but then I held back, reminding myself of the wonderful personal communications systems we enjoy.

I like calling brother Richard, on the move in Florida while I’m on the move here. Or calling my son Grover in Spokane while he’s on the job.

And then there is my other son Teddy, who works in Alaska. He’s my IT guy. If there is anything I want to know about phones or computers, I call him. It’s a new world that I enjoy and he loves.

Being old school, as my sons say, I look at these things as fragile and rarely try anything beyond what I already know without calling Teddy. He says, “Don’t worry dad, you can’t break it.”

How about that, a gadget you can’t break. I can mess it up, but Teddy and my co-workers always find the way back to where I’m supposed to be.

I often feel stupid because the fix was so simple. I truly admire people who understand these modern wonders.

You see, I come from a time when we got excited over a hand-written letter post-marked three days to a week earlier. Mom’s sisters wrote to her occasionally, and she updated us on things in California, Montana and Oregon.

It was a time of penmanship class in school and hand-writing so beautiful that it was an art-form. I never got into letter writing because I failed penmanship. My elbows were too tight, or something like that.

Teddy is on the alert for the iPhone 12, or 20, or 30. Whatever the cost, he’ll try to be the first to own one. Simply said, Teddy is anxious for the next iPhone.

I remember when my siblings and I were anxious for the first telephone. Yes, the word was telephone in those days. Would you believe it, the television came first, in 1954.

We got our first phone in 1957, the year we moved from the Dekker Road-Arms Road area to Granger. You could get the telephone in any color, as long as it was a dark shade of black. Tethered to the wall, you could roam 10 feet. We got a black one.

We also got a party line. That was less expensive than a private line. That was a really good deal. You could talk to more people for less money, and you got to know your neighbors.

“Well, hello Ted.”

“Hi Mr. Davis.”

“I’ll be done soon, and you can have the line.”

“Okay, thanks.”

“Hello Ted.”

“Hi, Joe?”


“I was waiting for Mr. Davis to get off.”

“Sorry, I’ll be off in two minutes.”

You were afraid to call your girlfriend. You couldn’t share sweet nothings.

“Go ahead, and tell her you love her too. What kind of guy are you?”

We dialed four digits to call people in Granger, Toppenish or Zillah. We called the long-distance operator for calls to Sunnyside or Wapato and beyond.

“Don’t be calling long distance,” dad said. “It costs too much.”

Guess whose first girlfriend lived in Wapato. I couldn’t hide the calls. They were listed on the monthly bill.

Then the world started to change, slowly, rapidly, then at the speed of light. With a “1” we could dial Sunnyside and Wapato. Then came the area code (509), and we could dial the country.

One day, in about 1985, I saw this big brick-looking thing sitting on the console between the front seats of dad’s car with an antenna-like thingy sticking out. The brand was Motorola.

“It’s a cellular phone,” dad said.

Dad got one of the first ones. He and mom were about to drive to Florida, and dad wanted the added security. I’m so slow I got my first cell phone after my kids had one. Same with computers.

My sons are correct. No matter how much I try, I’m old school. But not really bad. Got my first computer and phone before 2000.


Comments are subject to moderator review and may not appear immediately on the site.

Please read our commenting policy before posting.

Any comment violating the site's commenting guidelines will be removed and the user could be banned from the site.

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment