Color TV, my own phone — oh, to be that rich

Burt’s Eye View

When I grew up, I wanted to be rich. Really rich. So rich that my house would have TWO TVs. Both color, of course (rich kids didn’t have to suffer with black-and-white sets), and both with those massive cabinets and 25-inch screens.

That’s how rich I wanted to be. It was my goal.

I thought about that the other day when someone posted his musings on what we used to set as life goals. (I noticed this post while scrolling through the high-definition, vivid-color screen on the TV-like cellphone that I carry with me everywhere in my pocket. It’s a basic model.)

The guy in the post, “connectpoliticditto,” said that his wife hoped to some day have a refrigerator with a water / ice dispenser in the door. He said he wanted a basketball hoop with a Plexiglas backboard like all the rich kids had.

My basketball hoop was nailed to the outside of the barn. My backboard was the broad side of a barn — which I could hit, if not the hoop itself. The corn crib marked out of bounds.

Inside our old refrigerator, we chilled a water jug that we filled with tap water that came straight from the well — there were no rich-kid city waterlines or sewer lines out in the country.

Kids today are so rich that their parents buy bottled water by the case. If I had asked for bottled water, my folks would have exploded: “Are you nuts? We have perfectly fine drinking water. Sure, it can look a little brown at times, and you might find a touch of sediment in the bottom of your cup, but those are nutrients — good for what ails you.”

My grandparents were so rich that they bought a car that not only had air conditioning, but the windows went down all by themselves when you pushed a button.

Our “air conditioning” came when we rolled down the windows by cranking the handle. You did not want to do that at the same time you were trying to pull in the AM radio station by turning the dial to the exact finicky millimeter. That happened just before you drove out of range and lost the station altogether.

Rich kids also lived in mansions with central air, two bathrooms and garage doors that opened by themselves when you pushed a button in your car.

We had box fans to fit into windows. Our barn served as the second bathroom. And Dad refused to buy a garage door opener because we didn’t have a garage. The tractor was parked in the barn. The car sat outside.

One day when I went to play at cousin Billy’s house, he showed me this big box on the kitchen counter. “It’s a microwave oven. You can cook popcorn in it,” he explained.

My folks were too cheap to spend all that cash on a microwave just to cook popcorn — not when we had a stovetop, a perfectly good pot and cooking oil. I never used a microwave until I went to college and my roommate had one. One of the greatest things I learned in college was that microwaves also heat day-old pizza.

College also is the first time I had a phone in my room. When I grew up, we had one phone. It sat on the desk in the dining room because it plugged into the wall. A couple of rich classmates had their very own phones plugged into jacks in their own room. Kids with their own phones? They had to be millionaires.

If I ever became rich enough to own ANY such extravagances, I’d have it made.

Who moved the goal posts?

Meet poor boy Burt from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday at The Vindicator booth at the Canfield Fair, or reach him at burtseye view@tribtoday.com or at burtonwcole.com.


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