Kaleidoscope: Changes and memories plentiful as editor looks back at 60 years

by KEN LAHMERS | EDITOR Published:

When I was a kid, I looked at someone who was 60 years old as being "really old." And that's probably the way most youngsters characterize a person that age.

Well, in just four days I'll reach that six-decade plateau, so I'm sure many of today's youngsters will think I am now "really old." Of course, they probably thought that when I was 50 or 55, too.

The thought of reaching 60 has stirred up some emotions in the last few weeks. I'm really not looking forward to it, but there's nothing I can do about it.

Of course, there will be no major changes from 59 to 60. But it causes me to ponder what's ahead and what changes might be in store in, say, the next five or 10 years. Will I even be around then?

Those of us who have lived for the last 60 years have seen many changes, just as those did who were around for 60 years during the 1800s or any other time period in man's history.

If there's one thing that we always can count on, it's change.

TECHNOLOGY CHANGES GALORE

I mulled some of those changes while lying in bed one night recently. There have been hundreds, many of which are related to technology and new inventions that are supposed to make our lives easier.

For example, computers. We've moved from hard drives which took up an entire wall in a room to ones which are the size of a man's wallet. More and more data can be stored in smaller and smaller spaces.

What about telephones? I grew up in the land line, rotary dial era. Phones then moved to push-button styles and now to portable ones that can fit in a pocket and people can make calls from anywhere.

And they are not simply for calling people any more; they can store data just like a computer.

Although conventional ovens are still used, many people also have microwave ovens.

CDs and DVDs are the current technology for listening to music, along with iPods. Vinyl records and eight-track tapes are long-gone, and there are very few cassette tapes left.

Analog TV sets are a thing of the past, having been replaced by high definition screens which can be 50 or more inches wide.

Old-fashioned cars have given way to streamlined, modern-looking styles, although it's taken a long time to improve gas mileage. One new development is the electric car or hybrid, which makes up only a small percentage of vehicles on the road, but probably will thrive some day.

The Internet is a phenomenal tool. Whereas one used to have to search for hours in libraries and other places for information, tons of it are available by sitting down at a desk or table.

And, of course, there are cameras. The ones I owned ranged from a Brownie box camera which only took black and white photos to a Kodak Instamatic to film SLRs to digital SLRs (the new ones are something to behold).

JOBS TECHNOLOGY IMPROVES

In most cases, technology that we use in our jobs has changed drastically, too, and that goes for my profession -- disseminating the news.

Letterpresses and lead type were common when I started in the business. Offset presses came onto the scene in the 1960s, and sophisticated presses are available now.

After linotype machines were retired, optical scanners became common, but those didn't last long. They were replaced by computers and desktop publishing.

The Record Publishing Co. just switched to a new software program, and our employees have been struggling to learn how to use it. Not an easy task, especially for us "old dogs."

But our first week went fairly well and we're excited about how the new program can help us do our jobs better.

Years ago, experts predicted the demise of printed newspapers. Although the Internet is a major source for people to get news now, the printed product continues to exist, although it's a challenge to keep it going.

Some newspapers have disappeared, such as the Cleveland Press, Columbus Citizen-Journal and Cincinnati Post, and some daily papers have scaled back to three or four editions a week.

Manufacturing has been affected by technology, too. Whereas hundreds of people used to labor to produce a product, they have been replaced by robots, which can do the job faster and more efficiently. Of course, that's not a good thing for the job market.

EVER CHANGING LANDSCAPE

Another area where change is evident over six decades is the landscape.

I've watched or covered sports in many school buildings around Ohio. Many of the ones built in the 1920s-30s or before are gone. In fact, some that were built in the 1950s have been abandoned and/or razed.

I keep a list of schools where I've watched sports, and I mark the ones that have been demolished.

Among them are high schools in Cambridge, Bridgeport, Martins Ferry, New Concord, Zanesville, Old Washington, Midvale and Strasburg. Soon to be added to that list are Ravenna and Beallsville.

Fortunately, I can boast that in my hometown of New Philadelphia, the high school has been around for 99 years. It will celebrate its centennial year in 2013.

Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the Richfield Coliseum and Riverfront and Three Rivers stadiums, where I watched pro sports, are gone. The Coliseum was only 25 years old.

When I was young, my dad and I drove around Ohio's coal country to watch giant shovels and draglines such as the Silver Spade, Gem of Egypt and Mountaineer work. All of them were built in my lifetime and are gone.

As a rail fan, I've seen the demise of passenger trains and depots, and the removal of hundreds of miles of track around Ohio. Gone are rail giants such as the Pennsylvania, Erie and Baltimore & Ohio.

MEMORIES OF EVENTS, PEOPLE

I have hundreds of memories of people, events and places where I've lived or visited. There is generally something to remember about each community, whether it is as big as Columbus or as small as Hopedale. The latter, by the way, was the boyhood home of actor Clark Gable.

Some places I've been in, which most readers wouldn't recognize, are Warsaw (Ohio), Fly, New Rumley (where General George Custer was born), Malta, Adamsville, McMechan, W.Va., Hendrysburg (birthplace of actor William Boyd who played Hopalong Cassidy) and Pemberville.

I haven't been out of Ohio much; in fact I've never been west of Indianapolis. I've been to Florida once (for spring break during college) and to Washington, D.C. and New England once each during childhood vacations.

Some of the memorable events I'm familiar with were John Glenn's first space flight, President John F. Kennedy's assassination, the first man on the moon, the shooting of President Ronald Reagan and the big Ohio flood of July 4, 1969.

I've watched several high school sports teams win state titles, including Aurora's 2008 Division III football crown, and have gotten to see a few Ohio State football games in the Horseshoe in Columbus -- the first was in the Buckeyes' 1968 national championship season -- and a couple of Pro Football Hall of Fame games in Canton.

And there's the handful of famous people I've met, including Ohio governors John Gilligan, James A. Rhodes, Richard Celeste, George Voinovich and Bob Taft.

I've seen President Bill Clinton and George Bush in person, and have met famous athletes Pete Rose, Jim Brown, Vince Costello, Dick Schafrath and Jim Thome, plus country singers Loretta Lynn, Buck Owens, Barbara Mandrell, Ray Price and Jeanne Pruitt.

And then there's the time in 1972 when I sat in the pressbox at Newcomerstown's Lee Stadium beside legendary Ohio State University football coach Woody Hayes. He and I hail from the same county.

But just as memorable as those famous people are hundreds of ordinary folks I've met or been associated with in my 60 years. Many are gone; many are still around, including my 96-year-old uncle Gerald R. Spring. My grandma Lahmers lived to the age of 96.

We all take our memories to the grave eventually, and I'll have plenty to take with me.

Email: klahmers@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4189

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  • Although I am not 59 turning 60, I am 17 turning 18 and just in the past 17 years I have seen so many changes as well. Technology is the one thing that I believe has changed the most. I can remember growing up and having no recollection of cell phones, or iPods, and now that's the one thing that children are playing with. A lot of times I compare myself to my cousin who is about8 years younger then me and I can see all the changes that have been made In society. I wish some things haven't changed, but glad others did.