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Hey Jude[1],

 

 I’m sitting here resting my bones, just sitting at the dock of the bay watching the tide roll away[2], thinking of you on this beautiful morning [3] as I write the letter [4] that could change our lives if you will explain yourself so we’ll know both sides [5]now

I heard it through the grapevine [6]that you’re leaving for California, looking for the impossible dream[7], no doubt. Do you know the way to San Jose[8]

At MacArthur Park [9]– you know that weird park where sweet, green icing flowing down from the Mony Mony [10]building gets all over the daffodils and then love is blue[11]

Anyway, my mother’s friend, Mrs. Robinson [12], just gushed that she heard you talking to a girl and told my mother that you said to me, “This guy’s in love with you.”[13] But she must have heard you talking to another girl. If you’re really going to California, how can it be you love me? So far away…well, you know…there ain’t nothing like the real thing[14], right? 

Then I overheard them talking about girls named Delilah[15] and Honey[16]. They’re real girls, too, because they saw them at the Harper Valley PTA [17]meeting. They mentioned that your mom brought that weird red, red wine [18]and little green apples [19]pie for the refreshment table.  What’s that about?

Please think [20]about this. I know I’m just a young girl [21]and you seem to want to go now to the beat of a different drum. [22]But I have memories[23] and I want to reach my dreams of the everyday housewife [24]with you. I think of you every time I hear Classical Gas [25]and remember how we danced and shared midnight confessions[26]. You told me, “Elenore! Gee, I think you’re swell and you really do me well; you’re my pride and joy” [27]etc.

That meant so much to me and now…but a little gold ring you wear on your hand makes me understand. You’ll never be mine, I’m wasting my time? [28]You married her.

 

Elenore

I cannot say anything without hurting you. 

The divorce[29] was no tiptoe through the tulips [30]for me. 

So much talk about an Eskimo, the Mighty Quinn, [31]and the unicorn [32]made me crazy. Then, the park with the sweet green icing flowing down and what it did to the flowers?  What does that even mean? It was spooky[33]. Whatever you’re on, I just can’t live with it anymore. I thought for sure I’d end up in jail singing those Folsom Prison blues![34] 

You told everybody that I was a bad buy, a girl watcher,[35] You know that’s not true. 

I do remember the good times, weekends at home or having a relaxing picnic at Tod’s, the most beautiful beach in the world. And Sunday morning–Sunday will never be the same[36], Elenore. I hope you get your life together and find someone new. 

You’ll find someone. My hope is he’ll take good care of my baby[37]. I still care about you; I just can’t live with you. ~~Jude 

Hey Jude, 

Thanks for your note. I hope you see my reply. I feel like I’ve been away forever and it’s been just three months in rehab. But it took me five years to get there! I’ve just gotta get a message to you.[38]I made such a mess. 

My mother says your new wife’s name is Valleri[39]. I hope you will be very happy.

I did cry like a baby[40]. I didn’t realize, in my mind’s altered state, how much time had gone by since we divorced. I should have expected that a nice guy like you would find someone good and get married again. It’s good that you left when you did. It broke the chain of fools [41]we became without knowing it. 

I see now, how much of our troubles was caused by my addiction. Too much booze and then the pills… No wonder I saw the leaves on the trees as green icing! I was much sicker than I knew.

I’m sorry I called you a girl watcher. That was mean and just a cover; to make it your fault while denial kept me from the truth about myself.

If your new love ever leaves you, don’t hesitate to turn around, look at me[42]—take another chance? Who knows…I bet you could probably light my fire [43]again. (smiling!) 

Well, I’m a little down. This Dion song about Abraham, Martin and John [44]and Bobby really got me thinking about the state of the world. It’s so sad, isn’t it? Yet it’s good to be able to feel again without needing to alter myself anymore. I’m ready to face the good, the bad and the ugly[45]. Love, Elenore


[1] Hey, Jude—The Beatles

[2] Dock of the Bay—Otis Redding

[3] It’s A Beautiful Morning—The Young Rascals

[4] The Letter—The Boxtops

[5] Both Sides Now—Judy Collins

[6] I Heard it Through the Grapevine4 Marvin Gay

[7] The Impossible Dream—Roger Williams

[8] Do You Know The Way to San Jose? — Dionne Warwick

[9]MacArthurPark—Richard Harris

[10] Mony, Mony—Tommy James and the Shondells

[11] Love is Blue—Paul Mauriat

[12] Mrs. Robinson–Simon and Garfunkel

[13] This Guy’s in Love with You—Herb Alpert

[14] Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing—Marvin Gaye and Tammi Tyrell

[15] Delilah—Tom Jones

[16] Honey—Bobby Goldsboro

[17] Harper Valley PTA—Jeannie C. Riley

[18] Red, Red Wine—Neil Diamond

[19] Little Green Apples—O.C. Smith or Roger Miller

[20] Think—Aretha Franklin

[21] Young Girl—Gary Puckett and the Union Gap

[22] Different Drum—The Stone Ponies

[23] Memories—Elvis Presley

[24] Dreams of the Everyday Housewife—Glen Campbell

[25] Classical Gas—Mason Williams

[26] Midnight Confessions—Grass Roots

[27] Elenore—The Turtles

[28] Midnight Confessions—The Grass Roots

[29] D-I-V-O-R-C-E—Tammy Wynette

[30] Tiptoe Through the Tulips—Tiny Tim

[31] Mighty Quinn—Manfred Mann

[32] The Unicorn—Irish Rovers

[33] Spooky—Classics IV

[34] Folsom Prison Blues—Johnny Cash

[35] Girl Watcher—The O’Kaysions

[36] Sunday Mornin’—Spanky and Our Gang

[37] Take Good Care of My Baby—Bobby Vinton

[38] I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You—The BeeGees

[39] Valleri—The Monkees

[40] Cry Like a Baby—The Boxtops

[41] Chain of Fools—Aretha Franklin

[42] Turn Around, Look at Me—The Vogues

[43] Light My Fire—The Doors

[44] Abraham, Martin, and John–Dion

[45] The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly—Hugo Montanegro

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As for most baby boomers, my electronified life started with a small screen black and white television, aka TV, Hi-Fi Stereo radio and record player and small, tabletop radio at home.

When I was home, I could listen to radio while playing with my dolls on the floor nearby as my mother or father tuned in to their music choice–easy listening or big bands on the Hi-Fi radio or records. By the time I was ten years old, I could put a record on for myself.

One of my favorite things to do with music was to read and learn the lyrics while listening to an LP—a vinyl record. The Broadway production of “The Sound of Music” and the Mitch Miller and The Gang Christmas albums were the first to provide this happy pastime, with lyrics included.

I could settle down to watch a TV show. There were few shows for kids, so when one was on it received undivided attention. It wasn’t long before I complained aloud about commercial interruptions on TV.

Little did I know that TV was invented in order to advertise to the masses and the shows are the fillers!

It never occurred to me that these devices could be portable.

There weren’t many radio stations that played the Top 40 Hits: 1010 WINS, 77 WABC, 57 WMCA. I set my plug-in bedroom radio to WABC and left it there. They played The Beatles frequently enough to keep my attention.

My older sister had a transistor radio, but due to its extreme personal value, the request to borrow it was denied.

I was finally able to afford my first, last and only transistor radio way back in my early teens, around 1967. The small, portable device used batteries—and used them up fast!—but that little radio got all the stations I wanted, AM only, and could go anywhere. It went to the beach mostly, because we weren’t allowed to bring them into school. I doubt it ever occurred to kids to bring a radio to school, to class.

Mobile music was such a thrill! The radio was white and aqua plastic with silvery trim and came with a small, white ear plug which was promptly lost. It crackled with static and had to be manually fine-tuned for drifting stations sometimes, but music to go was worth that little bother. It cost around $7.50, which was a lot of money for a kid getting 50 cents to $1 per week allowance. I didn’t have the radio very long; maybe two years. Batteries were expensive and sand got into it. After I came to believe my dad, mom and sister that the radio was probably dead, I took it apart to see the insides. At some point after that, it was lost—or thrown away by my mother.

The next big electronic awareness was the telephone. It amazed me that my mother could talk to her sister from Connecticut to New York or North Carolina and the voices were clear, as if they were from a house on the street.

My aunt called my mother one day, person-to-person, meaning she asked the operator to stay on the line to make sure she got my mother before the fee meter was running. For a station-to-station connection, the fee started adding up as soon as the phone was answered by anyone on the other end. I happened to be in the house when the phone rang, probably running in from playing outside to use the bathroom, and I answered it. I knew to ask, “Who’s calling?” and when the operator said, “I have a person-to-person call for Marion from Irene. Do you accept the charges?” I answered, “Yes.” I knew it was important because my aunt was calling long distance in the middle of the day. I told the operator to “Hold on, I’ll get her!” and ran back outside to the house across the street where my mother was having coffee with her friend. I felt so important, a competent messenger. By the time we got back to my house, several minutes later, the handset was still on the counter but the phone was dead. They’d hung up. My mother explained about the short waiting time for such a call before the operator would have asked my aunt if she wanted to wait, and start paying for the wait time. I have no idea why that call was so important or what was said when my mother called her sister back.

Young kids seldom chatted on the phone with their friends, but teenagers spent a lot of time gabbing about everything. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to talk and laugh with friends on the phone.

During second or third grade, in the early ‘60s, I read about the invention of the “picture phone” that would be in every house in the near future. You could talk on the phone while looking at the person on a small screen. Friends and I joked about how to cover the screen if a boy called to ask for a date and you’d just gotten out of the shower and they’d see you wrapped in a towel with wet hair stuck to your face. I never did see that phone come to a house near me.

When my kids were young, the availability of a 25-foot coiled phone cord clipped to another of the same length gave me mobility in my little Cape Cod style house. I could reach every first floor room while talking on the phone: Fold and put away laundry, make the bed, mop the floors, or wash dishes with the phone tucked under my chin. The longer cord was big progress!

In the mid-90s, we bought cordless phones for the house. It was great to have freedom of movement. There was a base that hung on the wall, plugged into a socket and wired from the base to the jack, which of course was connected to the phone wires on the poles outside. Just like today, the handset tucked into a slot where the battery recharged. A later model had a built in answering machine to the base so both tasks could be handled with one contraption.

A traveling phone was so convenient. I could make the beds, sweep the kitchen, wash dishes, clean the bathroom, pull weeds or just sit outside and drink coffee while talking on the phone. I used a cheap ear plug in order to free my hands. I put the phone in my pocket, if I had one, or tucked into my cleavage and carried on with chores or cooking while gabbing.

But talk about expensive batteries; at $20 per battery, it’s a good thing cordless phone batteries last several years before they just won’t take a charge anymore. The only downside to the portable phones is that they can get lost easily in the house—stuck in the couch cushions, thrown into a toy box, left outside on the porch, hidden under the clean towels waiting to be folded. If the battery is dead, which happens eventually even if you don’t make any calls for a time, hope of finding it diminishes considerably.

Using the FIND signal from the charger base or calling the house number from a cell phone to follow the ringing doesn’t work if the battery is dead. You just have to wait and find it…eventually. My grandchildren used to take the cordless phones to another room, pretending to talk on them to their mothers or an imaginary somebody, but they’d toss them into a bucket of toys or scoot it under the bed. Sometimes the phones were lost for days.

A phone call to Europe used to require a human operator and several minutes to go through at an exorbitant cost for just a few minutes. I worked at two different companies in the ‘70s, each with offices in Europe and South America. Only executives could make an international call and the switchboard operator, who connected with the telephone company’s international operator, had to keep records of who called where. Something important needed immediate attention back in the ‘70s if an overseas call was warranted. There were no radio signals or wireless transmission from satellite to earth. There were miles of cable laid across the ocean. There are still submarine cables across the oceans today, but their quality is greatly improved with fiber optics.

Then we were able to direct dial long distance even though it was still quite expensive. But it was a breakthrough in telephone communications to dial a couple of extra numbers and speak to someone far away.

Along the same underwater lines, typewritten messages were sent via a Telex machine. It was set up like a typewriter keyboard. You could type quick messages while connected live to the receiver’s machine. Usually, messages were longer, so the words were punched into a waxy tape and read by a reader attached to the Telex machine, which read them quickly and typed them out from the sender to receiver at the same time. Many Monday mornings I arrived at work to see 20 or 30 feet of paper waiting for me to tear off, cut out individual messages and give them to recipients.

One job required the sending of encrypted messages, “cryptels,” in order to keep top secret product information from the eyes of competitors. The company also dealt with some government contracts for our military.

Most of the time, the messages were so technical, I couldn’t have explained what they were about, but others familiar with the science of it all could get enough information to have a lot of secrets about new inventions the company was exploring.

I left the world of office work, confident in the knowledge that I had Telex skills to fall back on when I returned to work after raising my children. Little did I know…

My daughter bought her father and me an early cell phone. Since my husband commuted about 30 miles to work, she thought it would be convenient to have a lifeline to me if he got stuck in traffic or if the car broke down. The phone was big, like the size of a cordless phone that recharges, but thicker. For $25, you could buy minutes but if you traveled anywhere, the minutes were used faster the farther out of a certain range you went. I traveled once 300 miles from home and agreed to call my friend at the destination on the phone when I was 30 minutes from her house. That one minute call cost me almost all of the minutes I had purchased because I was so far away from home base. What a system! We didn’t get much use out of the bulky precursors to today’s cell phones.

The cell phone is impressive. So much power of communication is such a small device. Direct dial to almost anywhere, whether you’re in the mountains or at the beach; in the car or in your backyard; on vacation to almost anywhere in the world or just speaking to a neighbor.

The size and quality of cell phones has come a long way. A cell phone can do so many tasks aside from just talking. It takes pictures or video, plays and stores music and videos,  accesses the Internet…the list goes on and on. Every couple of years, today’s model becomes obsolete and improvements and additions to its services keep the cell phone business booming.

I had also learned about computers back in the 70’s at my job as a customer service clerk for a food broker.

Was I impressed over what computers could do and how fast and efficient they were! It was fabulous. Orders were placed and tracked; reports on sales generated and products were tracked without needing a dozen phone calls. The computer was revered, too—it had its own air conditioned office even when the employees melted in summer heat.

Today, of course, computers practically rule the world with the secrets they keep, facts and figures near at hand, reports and dictionaries and medical advice, magazines,  newspapers, entire books; email, instant photos and messages and Facebook. The Telex Operator job I thought I’d return to was practically obsolete by the mid-‘90s when I was ready to return to work. Email had taken over much more efficiently.

Not the newest gadget but my most recent electronic acquisition is the MP3 player. I know, I know, I’m a little behind on owning electronics.

I liked to listen to books on CD which I borrowed from the library so that my hands were free to crochet. I found myself getting restless while holding a book or crocheting alone, without watching TV at the same time. When TV lost its appeal with so few shows worth watching, I didn’t want to crochet as much without its company. Restless again.

The library offers electronic books! No kidding! You download a book digitally from the library’s electronic catalog to your computer, then transfer it to your MP3 player. Insert comfortable ear phones, aka ear buds with gel-covered inserts, into your ears and listen to a book. It’s read to you by a professional reader who adds (or detracts sometimes) from the book by offering acting talents, with accents and different enhancements for the characters in the books. It’s fabulous! Joggers and walkers and teenagers have known about this portable feature for years for downloaded music or radio, but it works great for books too. Hands free listening is great for doing any crafty work, but it’s also nice for listening while tackling mundane yet necessary chores or walking the same route again and again. The MP3 player is about one-tenth the size of my old transistor radio.

What’s next for our “electronified” world? I have no idea. But it will probably be some improvement–and exciting.

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