Things, they have changed in 36 years

By TIM BEELAND,

It was 36 years ago today, August 2nd, 1981, that the music played and the bride walked down the aisle of Sebastopol Methodist Church to become my wife. What a wonderful day that was.
This year we’re celebrating our anniversary in one of our favorite communities. No, not New Orleans, although that is the place we usually  head to in early August. No, this year, for the first time, we’ll raise our glasses from the deck of a tiny beach house overlooking the dunes on the Gulf of Mexico in Fort Morgan, Alabama.
In fact this entire newspaper is coming to you from the deck of that tiny beach house overlooking the dunes on the Gulf of Mexico in Fort Morgan, Alabama. That would not — could not — have happened  in early August of 1981.
Technology, when it is working, is a grand thing. A very grand thing, and if you are reading this it is working on the deck of a tiny beach house overlooking the dunes on the Gulf of Mexico in Fort Morgan, Alabama.
The first time we ventured to Fort Morgan was in the 1990s and it was an effort, to say the least, to even get this column transmitted from a different little beach house overlooking the dunes on the Gulf of Mexico. Back then the laptop was bulky and I had to connect telephone cables to an old rotary dial phone and use “dial up” to get to the Internet.
It was slow — period.
In addition, we had to have a BellSouth PIN number, and BellSouth account so BellSouth could charge us a hiney load of money to transfer about 700 words from said laptop back to the office so it could be pasted to a page. Pasted, with hot wax mind you, to a full size newspaper layout page.
Those pages once completed, proofed, and corrected were then packed in a box and driven to a printing plant in Greenwood, Mississippi. In early August, in this great state, it tends to be quite warm. It certainly was in August of 1981 when that little wedding happened, and it has been very hot in New Orleans in early August many times since. It’s nice here on the deck of the beach house overlooking the dunes on the Gulf of Mexico in Fort Morgan, Alabama, but I have more than digressed.
The problem with the August heat in the old days had to deal with that wax, and those newspaper layout pages, and the fact that wax melts in a hot car, and if you were not real careful on the way to Greenwood the paper would fall apart. If that happened it all had to be pieced back together again before a photograph was taken of it with a giant camera which produced a giant negative used to transfer the image to big metal sheets. Those sheets were then attached to rollers on a really big newspaper press.
Ink was applied to the rollers and after bit of adjusting, and a lot of loud racket, finished newspapers began to roll off the press.
Things, they have changed.
Earlier this week I sat on the deck — you know where it is by now — and did a bit of work on a thin, sleek laptop that is smarter than all the computers in our office years ago. Attached to the laptop was my telephone, which is even smarter.
The only cable involved was one of those USB things that allowed the phone to connect to the computer. I did plug into electricity too, to keep from running the battery down.
My co-workers at the office e-mailed  me what needed to go into the paper and I popped it onto the pages, my bride of 36 years proofed, and in short time the paper was complete.
The electronic version was then transmitted via wireless Internet to the printing plant, now in McComb, in a matter of minutes — perhaps a bit longer — where pages were printed, bundled and on a truck headed to Forest in no time.
So thanks to technology, my bride and I are back out on that deck — you know the one — raising our glasses and reminiscing about all the other things that have changed in the past 36 years.
There’s been good, there’s been bad, it’s been great. Here’s to us!

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