On Loneliness and Old Age
The Privilege to Grow Old

Farmlines: Dumb Phones and Analog Apps

[EDITORIAL NOTE: As you know, I went to New York ten days ago at the invitation of Senior Planet to report on the Consumer Electronics show known at CE Week. There were three of us, each charged with selecting one Senior Planet Best of CE Week Awards for elders.

The results are in now at the Senior Week website. The introduction is here (don't miss the photo of me on that page) along with links to my story and two other winners from Mike Lee and Erica Manfred.

Perhaps you already know who Dan Gogerty is. Well, you know if you read Time Goes By's companion blog, The Elder Storytelling Place, where five days a week, new stories written by readers appear. (There is a permanent link to that blog over there in the left sidebar about halfway down.)

Dan has been regularly contributing stories since January 2013. Mostly they are about growing up on a farm in Iowa back in the 1950s and 1960s. And much more than that too.

Here's what I mean from a story titled, Social Media – Thunder Road Style:

”...we had cars and like the social media of today, these heavy metal devices offered apps, instant messaging and the risk of serious hardware malfunctions.

“With our social network, we could date, hang out and cruise with friends but first we needed a communication device - a set of wheels. A few lucky guys drove Mustangs, Camaros or GTOs but most of us used whatever our folks would reluctantly provide. It might be the family's four-door sedan or - God forbid - a station wagon, but unlike today, we could not go on a date in the farm pick-up truck.

“Back then pick-ups seemed to arrive from the dealer's lot equipped with empty feed sacks in the back and the smell of hog manure in the cab.”

Dan's story titled, Big Data, Small Towns and Big Brother in Drag, begins like this:

”Revelations about government snooping and corporate data mining don’t shock me. When I was a kid, our phone was tapped repeatedly and a local Big Brother knew everything about us.

“Big Brother’s name was Pauline, the town switchboard operator. She gathered data more efficiently than the NSA but unlike the overlord in Orwell’s famous novel, Pauline was liked and respected.”

You don't need to have grown up on a farm or in a small town to appreciate Dan's recollections and cleverly observant contrasts with today.

Gogertybook3Sm The reason I'm telling you this today is that Dan has published 55 of his short stories in a book titled, Farmlines: Living in the Days of Dumb Phones and Analog Apps, and that a few of those stories appeared first at The Elder Storytelling Place.

It is a collection I've kept on my bedside table for the past several weeks reading a few each night, charmed by Dan's warmth, humor and storytelling so clear that I don't even need to close my eyes to imagine I was there growing up with him.

They are stories about an era that's disappearing but one that readers of this blog will recall even if you didn't grow up on a farm. I remember party lines and the Fuller Brush man and horsing around on the school bus even in a city and so will you.

On the back of the book, Dan explains better than I can:

”Farmlines are the threads that connect people to a place – in this case, a family farm in a time when kids downloaded games in the grove or haymow or from a Parker Brothers box; where they accessed apps by running out the door to a tree house, snow fort, or pickup baseball game; where they made social media connections by talking, scheming, sharing, fighting, and linking up with kids in the community.”

These days Dan writes for the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. Long before that, he graduated from the University of Iowa and for 36 years he taught in seven schools on three continents.

It is such a delight to have a book of stories from one of our own Elder Storytelling Place contributors. Farmlines is available from Amazon in paper and Kindle editions. Or at Lulu in paper and ebook formats.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Carl Hansen: Worst Things About Growing Older


I smile remembering my grandmother's party line.
Always instructed on my visits
which ring was for her.
The Fuller Brush man and even Avon calling...

Oh yea, I sometimes wondered, "was our's two rings or three?" - then not caring. Then getting to listen in on a conversation not supposed to be listen to.

Rascals we were . . .

First of all, it was nice being able to place a voice with the face, well done Ronnie. The only thing that bothers me is who is going to pay for all of these gadgets. While our imagination knows no limits, our wallets do.

Please tell all your followers about
Senior planet.org
Which showcases you in NYC and other interesting people as well.
It's on today...

Uh, Emmy - perhaps you didn't read today's post. That announcement is at the top - the first thing to read.

This whole post was fabulously informative!

Thanks! Found a unique b'day gift for my husband (August birthday). I know he'll enjoy the book.

Farmlines looks like a book I will enjoy. Having grown up on a dairy farm in the 50's, I have wonderful memories of party-line telephones, learning to drive by steering the slow moving tractor while my dad tossed hay bales onto the wagon, camping under the cherry tree with my cousin, and so many more. Thank you for telling us about Farmlines.

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