I once knew a man who, when asked how old he was, would reply, "Older than salad." When I asked him what he meant, he said he could remember the days when a person could sit down at a restaurant and not be able to order a salad. "There was no such thing as a salad."
I have no way of knowing if this is true, since salad has always been available to me wherever I have eaten, and it is hard to imagine that something as simple as a salad was once not available to restaurant customers. But, then again, it is hard to imagine a day that once existed in which people did not have cell phones or desk top computers; a day when people did not have DVD players or VCR's; a day when people actually had to get off the couch to change the channel on the television; a day when there were only three television stations; a day when people had to climb onto their roof tops to adjust their television antenna; a day when people did not have television!
My grandmother was almost 102 when she died. When she was born, there were no commercial airplanes, and cars were scarce. Radio was still in its infancy. Think of it. All of the things that we take for granted and even think of as old fashioned did not exist just two generations removed from my birth.
We live in an age when things seem to have a very short life span. Not long ago, the powers that be decided that Winkler Dorm at Appalachian State University was too expensive to renovate and should be torn down. I was a student at ASU when Winkler Dorm was built in 1974. I can now say that I have outlived a dorm.
The computer that I am using to write this is five years old. In computer years, it is a dinosaur. Smart phones change and evolve at an ever quickening pace as do Ipads and Ipods. It is now possible to go to the beach and carry a thousand books and a thousand albums with you in a bag no larger than a shaving kit. We have information about almost any subject at our fingertips without having to leave our chair. I can correspond with someone who lives across the world from me instantly.
Children being born today will one day look upon this age in which I am now living as the ancient of days. And when one of those children asks me what it was like, I will tell them, "It was wonderful. It was a time of great discoveries; a time of great challenge. A time of unusual things." I will tell them that "I once knew a man who said he was older than salad."
And they will ask, "What was salad?"