Chandler Otis: The good old days are long gone

As a child I delivered newspapers on my bike, now adults do it. Things change.


Published: Monday, January 30, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 11:46 p.m.

A recent country music song laments, “Why can't things be the way they used to be, the way they ought to be.”

Being both nostalgic and a bit lazy, I agree, but it seems that as time marches on, things change.

A recent letter writer to The Sun snarled, “Why don't you try delivering the Gainesville Sun on bicycles?”

I and several subsequent letter writers were a bit amused, having delivered newspapers by bicycle in the “olden days.” I delivered the Gainesville Sun by bicycle in the 1960s from age 11 to 15. I also made money by doing yard work and by selling soft drinks at Florida Field.

Those jobs were done by young people back then. Today these jobs are done by adults. Things change.

I think it is a mark of how difficult our economy is when adults compete for jobs that used to be done by kids. It is also a mark of how we protect our children more, which is good in some ways; lawn mowers can be dangerous, and delivering newspapers in pre-dawn darkness is also risky.

Think about your job. Has it changed over time? The jobs I did in the 1970s and 1980s no longer exist; almost no one develops film anymore, “paste-up” is done on computers and proofreading has been replaced by “spellcheck.” These jobs have been replaced by technology, primarily computers.

In these difficult economic times, I hope people in general and politicians in particular will reflect on how things are changing. Rather than trying to do things “the good old-fashioned way,” we need to think hard about how to organize our society so everyone has opportunity and a chance.

If we don't adapt to change, we invite chaos.

Interestingly enough, “adapting to change” is the definition of...dare I say this?...evolution. Without getting into the controversy of biological evolution, I hope that everyone over age 40 will recognize the changes they have seen in their lifetime, and realize that society must adapt or perish.

In those newspapers delivered by bicycle in the 1960s, the Sunday comics featured detective Dick Tracy, who talked on his futuristic wrist telephone/television. Back then, we imagined that such a telephone was far in the future, something astronauts might have someday.

For those not old enough to remember detective Tracy, get your iPhone and look it up on the Internet.

Things change.

Chandler Otis lives in Gainesville.

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