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Tornado sends us back in time

Date: 5/31/2011

By G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor

June 6, 2011

People talk about what it's like to go home again. Well, I guess I'm there. Is it 1975 all over again? The tornado ripped out our cable television, Internet connection and landline phone — minor inconveniences compared to the destruction of homes near us. So I'm not complaining. I still have an intact home. Thank you. I do have the chance of realizing what life was like before having the Web and cable television. Do you remember back to that era when people used rocks for money?

Spending my teen and college years in Granby in the late 1960s and early '70s meant that we had a huge choice of television stations: ABC, CBS, NBC locally and maybe, if the wind was right, some stations from Connecticut. There was no remote control. Instead my brother and I would stare each other down about who was going to get off his backside to change channels.

It freaks out young people to tell them that most of my generation saw the world through television in black and white. And the qualities of the image were dependent upon the weather and if some bird were sitting on the antenna.

I thought my brother and I were living large because we had an 18" Dumont black and white television in our room our room, dammit. If we kept the sound low, we could watch stuff into the wee hours or as "wee" as I could, considering I had to get up to do farm chores in the morning.

We watched that Dumont until the faltering picture tube made everyone look about three inches in height.

Ah, the salad days.

We had one phone in the house in the kitchen, which had a long enough cord I could stretch to stand behind a closed door on the staircase to the basement and talk in semi-privacy.

Later, my dad put an extension in the basement, which became the Fortress of Solitude for a teenage boy talking to his girlfriend for hours.

Well, today we have cell phones, so that service is fine, and between what we can get on the antenna and our DVD collection, there is plenty to watch.

I'm going through Internet withdrawals though.

I surf, I blog, I Facebook is that a verb? and I'm sort of twitching that I can't really do any. Since the power is out in East Longmeadow and our Internet provider at work is also on the fritz, I can't count on that as providing a fix.

I'm thinking of hanging out at the library just to get me some.

As Joni Mitchell would say, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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