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My dad had an inventive mind that wanted to know how something works. He told the story of when he was in high school, he wanted to understand how the new elevator in town worked. Remember the elevator operator that worked them manually? You would hear – “Second floor, please step up!” or “Fourth floor, please step down,” or “Watch your step, please!” My dad got the weekend job and was determined to operate it perfectly so it would always be level with the floor. He said it took him about two days to learn how to run it perfectly, and then he resigned from the job.

My dad grew up on a farm in Angola, Indiana. When he was young, he invented an onion topper which put him through the last two years of the University of Michigan. Automatic onion topping!

During the summer break at George Washington University, I worked as a long distance telephone operator. I had a split shift so I had the daytime off. Remember – before automation – the voice that came in – “Operator!” Even locally you couldn’t dial your number. I still remember my telephone number growing up. 427! Long distance telephone calling was the last to be automated.

In the dairy industry – before automation and homogenized milk -I always loved the frozen cream pushing the lids up from the milk bottles an inch or even more in frigid weather. And in the summertime, making our own ice cream and taking turns cranking the handle. We never seemed to have the patience to get the ice cream really firm, but WOW was it good! Much better than machine made!

Our parents would sometimes drive to Chicago or Indianapolis and our main activity would be to ride the escalators. It seemed like total magic to we three girls and we never tired of riding them!

Well, these are some of the old timey memories that came to me about how a few things were before they were changed so much by being automated!


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