A Sentimental Journey … Into the Future

Posted: 12/1998

The Letter

A Sentimental Journey … Into the Future

As I sit down to
address this letter, I am torn over what to talk about. Access reform. Slamming. Election
results. Each current. Each controversial. Yet, my thoughts keep coming back to one
thing–my grandmother, Edith Smith LaBronte Cox. She died yesterday; she was 89. She was a
normal, average person except, perhaps, for having the singular experience of living
through nearly a century of incredible and unprecedented change.

In many ways, that change could not come soon enough for her. Born the oldest of five,
she was oft made to carry the brunt of the chores and childcare. Because that’s what young
women did, she married and had five children, including my mother. Though she was a
consummate homemaker, she also was smart and curious. She longed for the opportunities
that were not hers because she was a young woman in the 30s and 40s. Her regret, she
expressed, was having been born too soon.

Still, in other ways, she clung to the past. A solid die-cast zinc black phone
(probably a Western Electric 300 series desk set) with the familiar Bell logo in the
center of the rotary dial–stood like a sentry beside the front door of her home for some
50 years. While its weight was not conducive to a comfortable conversation, I must admit I
was saddened when I was greeted by its modern replacement on one visit some 10 years ago.

I wonder if she felt that way too, or if relief from its heavy handset had wiped away
any sentimental attachments.

While I am awed by the technological transformation that my grandmother witnessed
during her time–automobiles, flight, space travel, television, computers and even the
Internet, I am somewhat apprehensive about what I might see during mine. They say the pace
of change is increasing–an Internet year is equivalent of three months. A decade ago, I
was writing about the hot new voice mail service. This year it’s Internet protocol (IP)
telephony. Next quarter, who knows?

But when I am old, will I recall my laptop personal computer (PC) or cell phone with
fondness of days gone by, or shake my head and laugh the way we do today about the
Commodore 64?

Khali Henderson

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