Mack Williams: My old ‘computer and Internet’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 22, 2015

My mother passed away back in 1998, and at that time, a friend from my Yanceyville neighborhood graciously lent his van for me to bring back some of my mother’s belongings from her Yadkin House apartment. My brother Joe, his wife, Sheila, I, and others worked on removing items of familiarity from the days when the Bernard Williams family’s address was Rt.7, Box 147, Old Concord Road.

My old friend Esther Rufty also helped some, but just her presence provided a certain moral support to all of us. (With Esther always being a morale booster, her contribution would be better stated as “morale” support.)

Joe and Sheila moved, not very long ago, to another house in Faith, and Joe told me he had found some other packed-up things for me, so over the course of a few Salisbury visits, I brought several boxes home.

I won’t go into detailed description of those items here, because that’s enough for another column, on another day.

I will devote the rest of today’s column to one especially exciting thing found in one of those boxes of my mother’s things: a piece of my old “computer and internet” (of sorts).

Many years of my youth were spent utilizing that “world-wide web” (of a most “static” nature), purchased by my parents sometime in the mid-1950s.

Being of the ’50s, the scenes in my “internet” were all black-and-white; but I imagined them in color, such mental calisthenics probably helping my young neurons grow.

It was much more reliable than today’s internet, no waiting for connection, always just there.

After my parents were visited by this “computer and internet’s” salesman and made payment, he had brought it out to our home on the Old Concord Road, the simplicity of setting up being just like unpacking something from a box.

Kids grow up today using computers and the internet; and I was the same as them, remembering “mine” as far back as memory takes me, to when Elvis’ career was just getting started.

When searching something in those days, I was never met with a page containing the message: “This page cannot be displayed,” “Sorry, we can’t connect right now,” or “Oops” (as if someone has tripped and fallen).

And another thing (Colombo), there were no “pop-ups” to avoid when using my old knowledge source, unlike today’s “sailing,” like making one’s way through clusters of laid, advertisemental “mines.”

In those days, I was never greeted by the phrase: “Web page has expired,” as the only way my old “web page” was most likely to expire would have necessitated a visit from the personnel (and equipment) of the South Salisbury Township Fire Department.

There is one big advantage of today’s computer and internet than my old one: “storage.”

Gazillions of gigabytes of information and pictures can be stored nowadays, but my “PC” was limited to such things as the actual physical “sandwiching” of old Christmas cards and boutonniere’s from such events as: being a groomsman at Joe and Sheila’s wedding, multiple proms at East and South, a rose from my father’s casket spray, and a rose given by Principal Thomas Joe Lyerly to each of us in East Rowan’s graduating class of 1969 as we paraded (individually) before family and friends.

My old “unit’s” storage was limited to those few things, with the rest being filed away in the “gray hard drive” between my ears.

Unfortunately, I only have one piece of my old “computer and internet,” the part labeled “C.”

Which is appropriate, because that piece of my old “Windows 1955” (this number being a year, not a technological advancement) is “Volume C” of the 1955 “Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia.”

Its cover is simulated black leather, with green letters, but not bright green (not even back then). Compared to the “glitzy stuff” meant to catch present-day, ever-decreasing attention spans, the raised, intricate designs on the binding give it the look of one of those elaborately designed (beyond practicality) machines of Jules Verne’s fiction (futuristic, but in Victorian style).

But just like Victor Barbicane’s projectile spacecraft in “From the Earth to the Moon” or Nemo’s (the captain, not the fish) Nautilus submarine in “20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea,” Compton’s got the job done.

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