Voices from the past can take many forms

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Technology and I aren’t the best of friends. It’s not that I really despise it. I just don’t understand most of it and am not very good at using what I do sort of understand.

There is some tech I don’t understand, however, that I am grateful for, especially that which a cardiac surgeon used a few years back to give me a new lease on life. Bottom line here is I don’t need to understand, just so long as the doc does.

However, a good deal of that attitude of mine, I confess, is because at times I’m a cynic about the whole business. For instance, when trying to make a call on my mobile phone, for which I pay a significant sum each month, I realize all over again that our little family lives in the Bermuda Triangle of communications service — that place where calls go to die. And, often, even if there is a connection, much of the conversation sounds like: “Hello crackle loof erk will you glabber and then frammin?”

Lest you think I’ve got it out only for phones, let me add I have trouble with most of the rest of the products of that world. For instance, I still cannot program a VCR — and here’s the reality of that situation: no one uses those anymore. We don’t mainstream and livestream and any other stream and yes, I know, it’s my fault and problem for being a dinosaur in the world of jets.

But here’s my issue: we have on the bookcases of our den enough VHS tapes and DVDs to furnish a medium-sized video library. DVDs, I’m told, are themselves going the way of the buffalo but I’ve got some great ones — the complete catalog of “Hill Street Blues” and most of the “NYPD Blue” series, back when it was OK to support the police. There are also collections of Looney Tunes cartoons (the real ones), John Wayne movies and a truckload of history offerings. And I really don’t want to give them up, just yet anyway.

For a time, I had a gizmo that would play both VHS and DVD but, alas, it went the way of all flesh and is now relegated to the electronics junkpile. Fortunately, my son in law, who does understand and do technology, has found for me a DVD player — which should be arriving any moment and which, he tells me, I can install myself. We’ll see.

Another real concern about my video collection has come to light since I looked at the calendar the other day and saw June 19 marked as “Father’s Day.” It’s been 30 years since I last spoke with my father, whom we all called “Pa” as a nod to his first grandchild, who coined that phrase when she spoke of, to and about him.

On many a VHS cassette sitting on the shelf — unable to be viewed — are recordings of “Pa.” To this day, I still remember much of the wisdom he shared with my two brothers and me — for instance, as I’ve shared before, “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too” and “Keep it between the ditches.”

My next mission is to send my son-in-law out on a search and rescue mission to find a VHS player or a combo product, even if he has to order it online (again something I don’t know how to do) from Amazon. Even to this day, I’m surprised a river in Brazil sells so many products.

So, while I can remember what Pa said, I’m having trouble remembering how he said it. I’m pretty sure I’d recognize his voice if I could hear it again. It’s just that I can’t.

I’d like to.

If you still have yours, don’t wait until Father’s Day Sunday to speak — and listen.

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.


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