Parents’ memories fuel reflection for future storytelling

I’ve often wondered what I’ll tell my kids about my childhood. Specifically, those things that were different for me or no longer exist that they’ll never experience.

For instance, my parents have sat me down and weaved wondrous tales of life without VCRs or DVD players, cars minus power brakes and power steering and the scarcity of restaurants to grab a bite out.

“It was a treat to go out to eat,” my dad has said more than once, usually when we’re waiting for our entrees.

My paternal grandpa owned cardboard boxes full of taped TV programs. When my parents finally installed a DVR, some of the first words my dad whispered were: “Wow, Papa Gene would have loved this.”

With my dad’s relish in remembering life without today’s luxuries, it got me thinking what tales of woe I’ll spread to my kids. The two legends that come to mind are arcades and video stores. Both still existed when I was a tyke, but both have their horizons in sight.

I have not seen an authentic arcade in several years. My dad and I used to visit “Aladdin’s Castle” in Parmatown Mall. I never really cared for playing those games that spit out tickets. Instead I played the racing games or that one “Jurassic Park” shooter with the endless waves of velociraptors and that bearded dragon with the poisonous spit.

There was no “Dance Dance Revolution” acting as the jukebox in the arcade I remember.

But now arcades are no longer their own attraction; they’re just an accessory to something bigger. Go to play laser tag, you’ll find an arcade in the back. Chuck ‘E’ Cheese has one next to the germy jungle gym. You might find one, sad lonely crane game in a Denny’s or Red Robin.

You can blame the slow death of the arcade on your nearest high-def videogame console.

Together, Netflix and Redbox have slain the video store biz. Gone are the Hollywood Video and Blockbuster businesses. Family Video still fights on, but for how long?

I could never understand the company’s inclusion of an adult video section in the back of its stores; it doesn’t fit the meaning of “family.”

As for me, I’ll remember the array of emotions that accompanied each video store visit. The initial joy when entering, probably similar to opening the door to Willy Wonka’s factory. Eavesdropping on the arguing couple who can’t agree on one flick to rent. The disappointment when all the copies of that one movie you wanted to see are all checked out.

Nowadays, just browse through Netflix and be overwhelmed with all of your options.

I can guarantee my kids will find me bizarre in more ways than one. But even if my tales of a way of life now extinguished with budding technology fall upon deaf ears, the reflection is more for my benefit than the younger generation.

It’s a reminder that we were satisfied with what we had before. Even though this new thing is better, we won’t forget what life was like without it.

In other words, it’s a guard against taking life’s fortunes for granted.



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