Along time ago, when I was young child, probably no more than ten, I was watching an episode of the Andy Griffith Show. And in that episode, I found out that the small town of Mayberry had a "fix it" guy named, Emmett, played by the accomplished actor, Paul Hartman. I was intrigued by all the gadgets in Emmett's shop and quickly decided that I, too, wanted to become a repairman. Of course my mother did everything in her power to discourage that line of work. It wasn't because she didn't believe in me or didn't realize my full potential. Quite the opposite. My mother was keen on discovering talent and typically did everything within her power to groom that talent. But we were a family of meager means. And having a budding repairman in the family, tearing up the few modern conveniences we owned, wasn't really something we could handle financially. And so, I retired my dream and went on to pursue other, more practical occupations. But my love for fixing things, stayed with me throughout my life.
Back then, when something broke down and you repaired it, it gave you a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction and purpose. Our things were tied to us, and when they broke, and we nursed them back to their fully operational status, it was as though we had rescued a family member. Our radios and television with their tubes and transistors, graced our living rooms and kitchens and entertained us for years. Our toasters always popped-up. Our vacuum cleaners consistently cleaned. Our washers and dryers, washed and dried for years. And when they were finally done, at the very end of their lives, it was only then, that we reluctantly handed them over to the junk-man. And even he, would not retire them completely; because from our junk, he managed to rebuild functional appliances and gadgets from the many parts that he collected. And so the cycle continued.
From our love of our gadgets, we managed to inspire and develop a legacy of engineers, scientists, mechanics and dreamers. And it was that very success, I think, that ushered in our new disposable society. Because those brilliant engineers, scientist, mechanics and thinkers, that we inspired, managed to discover more efficient ways to build and manufacture our gadgets. And so, they replaced our vacuum tubes, capacitors and transistors with circuit boards and processors. They made our televisions more colorful and safe. They brought computers to every household. They gave us a telephone, that we could take anywhere with us, that serves as our camera, alarm clock, organizer, road atlas, travel agent, radio, record player, and the list goes on, and on. They made our lives better.
And don't get me wrong. I love the newer technologies. I use them, I embrace them. They have made my life easier and more efficient. But sometimes, on Monday mornings when I'm driving down the street, and I see the garbage from my neighbors on the curb, I get a bit nostalgic when I see discarded appliances and televisions, and an assortment of gadgets. Because a long time ago, we used to fix things.