What Grandpa never knew

Another View
By Bill Hall

We and our grandparents have lived partially separate lives. By the time you are a grandpa, your own grandpa and grandma have probably exited.

That leaves us with vast differences in the inventions, medicines and miracles of our grandparents, as opposed to the amazing products we have today in our time as grandparents.

Consider this: My grandfather, who died at 89, was born a couple decades before the end of the 1800s. He lived in a world of horses.

I now live in a world of automobiles – automobiles that, in a year or two or four, will drive themselves. That’s something our grandparents could hardly have comprehended. I’m not sure I believe it.

Some cars are already capable of applying the brakes when a careless human driver doesn’t notice that his auto is about to bash into another car.

No wonder we call them automobiles. Auto-mobile is a word that means self-moving, as in a horseless carriage. Grandparents of yesteryear lived in a world where a person’s transportation means could also drive itself – if we are talking about the traditional horse that carries you home while you sit snoozing in the saddle.)

As a certified grandpa myself, I ask you a pertinent question: What wonders will our grandchildren see that we will miss when we are gone?

For instance, my grandfather never laid eyes on an electric toothbrush.

I have an electric/sonic toothbrush that has declared war on dental plaque.

In the future of my grandkids, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in their world, they will find a way to grow new teeth.

My grandfather never rode in a jet airplane.

Today we travel with millions of other people in jet airplanes. Most likely, our grandchildren will live in a world where they board rockets and fly from Seattle to Beijing in about 90 minutes, with or without fast servings of noodles.

My grandfather never missed radio news on the hour, while telling me things I needed to know – work hard and do unto others. We introduced our grandfather late in life to a simple black and white television set. He was underwhelmed.

Now that I am a tad old myself, I enjoy something that didn’t exist when I was a kid – television. We have several televisions so we can keep up with the Seattle Seahawks while walking from room to room cooking dinner, rolling our socks and other chores.

Before he died, my grandfather read that a few rich people had home theaters that showed films right in their own dwellings. Today, millions of ordinary people have instant access to a massive selection of movies right in our homes.

I have no doubt that one day my grandchildren will watch movies at home sitting among three-dimensional electronic actors talking straight to their audience.

When I was a child, my grandparents, like most adults in those years, lived in fear that polio would leave me and other children crippled by that scourge – until vaccinations wiped that worry from the earth.

When I am gone and my grandchildren are grandparents, I have no doubt that damaged hearts and lungs and kidneys and eyes and arms will be quickly replaced by medical factories making and installing replacements

Meanwhile, I wonder what my grandfather would have said if I could have sat him down in front of a computer and told him that the magic device before him contained almost all the knowledge in the whole wide world, and it was at his disposal.

I would tell him that I don’t know how long it will take, but the day will surely come when some blessed great, great, great grandchild will discover the cure for war.

Bill Hall is a Lewiston, Idaho writer who contributes regularly to the Enterprise.