The day smelled and felt like spring, the early morning sun was shining in a kindly way, not too warm but just right.
Glory be, I thought as daughter-in-law Gail, Great Grand Maddie and I pulled away from son Bob's condo in Pallatine, a suburb of Chicago. The weather had been this way on our whole trip up to the faraway northland; this was not what had been expected. Our visit now over, we would have long hours to think and talk of many things on our journey of almost five hundred miles south, back to Olive Hill, Tennessee, where Gail and Bob's home is. The next day, Maddie and I would hit the Trace and motor on home to a sultry, rainy, Mississippi.
“Three days isn’t enough time.” I tapped the cover of a Frommer’s travel book on Chicago that was on the car seat. “We needed longer.”
Maddie looked up from the game she was playing on her cellphone. “I want to come back, Gee Gee. I really do.” “I’ve been here a bunch of times,” Gail said. “This was my first river cruise, and I must say, I’ll be taking that tour again. There were some breathtaking views and you learn a lot about the city.”
Once on the interstate, leaning back, pillow behind my head I enjoyed the flashing by scenery of this, the third largest city in our country. Silhouetted against a blue sky, tall, narrow concrete skyscrapers the color of elephant skin caused me to remember a few of Carl Sandburg’s words, “The city with lifted head, singing, so proud be alive.” There was so much to see and do, we had only dipped our little toe into the river.
Off in the distance we could hear nearby wailing ambulances and sirens, and the drone of jets taking off from O'Hare Airport, but all was quiet in the car. Time on my hands, I opened my cellphone. “I’m going to kinda catch up and see if Pottymouth Peggy has any news for me.”
Tapping AOL, right off the bat a message popped up from Grandson John David.
“By the way, it’s brother Mark’s birthday,” he reminded me. “He's 33 today.”
Yours truly typed in, “Thanx J.D.” I quickly sent Mark, “Happy Birthday” wishes, then disconnected with no thought of checking my email—which yours truly can actually do.
“I'm hungry.” Maddie spoke up.
“You read my mind,” I said. “I am too, Miss Maddie-bug.”
“Just a little further down the road, and we’ll stop,” our driver said.
In a few minutes Gail swung off the interstate; we pulled into a McDonalds and went inside for ablution and food.
Pottymouth Peggy dinged just as I bit into an Egg McMuffin. “Would you answer this and read it back to me?” I pushed my cell phone toward Maddie who was picking at an order of French fries. “It’s probably Mark. My glasses are in a back pocket, and I’m in the middle of chewing.”
Glancing at my cellphone Maddie smiled as if she knew a secret. “LOL,” she said. “That means he laughed out loud.”
I leaned forward and dug out my glasses. “I’m not as user friendly as I’d like to be, but even I know what LOL is,” I answered. “I don’t understand why he did, but for some reason Mark laughed out loud when he read the ‘Happy Birthday’, e-mail I sent.” I wiped a smudge of Egg McMuffin off my chin. “I’ve had to learn a lot in a hurry. You’re talking to someone who not too many years back gave up her electric typewriter for a computer.”
“What's a typewriter?” Maddie asked.
I took a long, deep swallow of coffee. “That’d take too long to explain and it’d probably be boring.” I slumped back. A few thoughts flashed through my head. I don’t like to admit it, but most of this newfound technology makes me feel my age and beyond. When I was a child and we lived in our first house on Eagle Avenue, we had only one dial phone, it was in the hall and was connected to a wall outlet by a long cord. We were on a party line and often had to wait until the other folks were through talking to make our call. The TV pictures were only black and white and received signals with rabbit ears. The programs I remember from back then were, The Lone Ranger, Arthur Godfrey, and Jack Benny.
You had to be coordinated to drive. Cars were manual shift with a clutch on the floor. And, yours truly has to come clean. She failed her driver’s license test the first time she took it. In parallel parking, clutch pushed down, gears shifted to reverse, foot on the accelerator, she hit the front fender of the car she was trying to park behind.
Electric typewriters, movie cameras, automatic shift cars, seat belts, air bags and moon walks came along, then it seemed as if our world and things beyond began changing. Now we have cell phones, I-Phones, word processors, computers, Twitter, Instagram, Zoom and all it’s competitors, streaming services, electric cars. The list goes on. And on.
I sat quietly as long as I could stand it then I wiped my mouth, and pointed to Pottymouth Peggy. “I may be like a discontinued model on most things, but to my way of thinking, some of these newfound gadgets don’t always live up to their claims and don’t do what they’re supposed to.
“I liked the olden days when everything worked with an On or Off switch.”
I squared my shoulders, wadded my paper napkin, and stood.
“I think it’s time for us to hit the road!”