Growing up with technology, social media, and transport at my fingertips, I often find myself taking for granted the things my parents and grandparents went without. I can’t remember a time in school when we didn’t have computers to type up our assignments, or when we handed in written copies of homework on ‘what we did last weekend.’ The truth is these first world essentials didn’t exist for the older branches of my family tree – and its somewhat perplexing to think: what was the equivalent to Snapchat in 1960, and what was the 80s version of Airdrop? The more I wondered, the more intrigued I became. How can I explore just how interesting (or boring) life was without all these inventions? At first, I considered going offline for a day or two – but then I remembered that without my phone, I don’t have an alarm clock, and without my computer, I can’t do my work. Fair to say, that alone highlights how dependent we are on technology. But nonetheless, I was still determined. And that’s when I decided, the only way I could really understand, was by having an old-fashioned sit down with the baby boomers themselves - my grandparents.
Dennis and Lyn Cowell live a simple life; coffee at 9am, horse races at midday, and the news at 6pm (and not to mention the surf club raffle on Thursday night – a staple in the schedule of every Main Beach retiree). It’s the routine I’ve witnessed since they first moved to the Gold Coast when I was around six years old (and I don’t see it changing). But perhaps the most crucial part of their daily to-do list, is the baking. You can smell it, can’t you? Fresh gingernuts, the seasonal ANZAC cookies – oh my heaven.
But with the latest COVID-19 outbreaks, I thought it best to avoid contact – so over the phone it was! I grabbed my cookies and ‘cuppa’ just like I would in person and gave them a spontaneous call. This is how it went…
LYN: For me it was television coming to Australia. Not many people could afford it, so we would go to the electronic store and watch the news from the footpath instead.
DEN: I remember Russia sent the first satellite into space. I named my cat ‘Sputty’ after it. That was the start of the space race too.
LYN: I remember we changed to decimal currency when I was working at the bank.
DEN: The Vietnam war started and when I turned 18, I had to put my name down. Luckily my birthday was never called so I stayed home, but a lot of my friends left.
LYN: Well, we got married and I had the three girls, so I was a stay-at-home mum. I do remember we introduced the portable dishwasher. And home load interest rates were so high!
DEN: Protests. People yelled “boo” when the soldiers came home. It stays with you.
LYN: The Commonwealth games came to Brisbane, so QEII was build, and the World Expo transformed South Brisbane into an arts hub.
DEN: July 1980. State of Origin changed the game, and I actually went to the first match.
LYN: By then technology was around and I was behind on things coming back from 23 years staying at home with kids.
DEN: I was working at the time when computers and laptops become standard in offices. It changed the role women had in the workplace, because they were used to being the only ones who had to type and write.