Things change. That has always been the case. Yet when change arrives, people are startled, as if “how dare it?”.

When I was 10, my mother and I went to a movie about WWII. It was a drama/comedy with bumbling Nazis, bumbling French resistors, and a lot of slapstick.

As we were walking home, I asked, “What does Gestapo mean?”‘ The word had been used repeatedly in the film, but I had never heard it before.

I remember the wide-eyed expression on my mother’s face. Details of WWII that had been important to her generation were lost on mine. A page had been turned, but it hadn’t sunk in for her until that moment.

The emergence of Rock-n-roll was a shock to her. It filled her with dismay. Her beloved jazz was being replaced by something unlistenable. She couldn’t stand Bill Haley and the Comets, and her woe increased with the Beatles and Rolling Stones.

My mother’s perplexity is nicely summed up in a song from 1967 called “Down the Drain”. It’s by Allan Sherman. In an excellent close-harmony arrangement, he and a backup chorus use the phrase “‘down the drain” to lament the loss of once-familiar items.


In a slightly raspy voice, Sherman croons: “The sweetest things in life don’t stay around for very long. They come and go and don’t come back again. While they’re here you feel so smug. That’s when fate pulls out the plug. And the sweetest things in life go down the drain.”

Some of the things Sherman bewails are the loss of fountain pens, coins with actual precious metals in them, and movie star Tom Mix. If Sherman were singing that song today, think of all the examples he could include.

In 1979, a group, the Buggles, recorded a song called Video Killed the Radio Star. It contains these words:

“In my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far. Pictures came and broke your heart. Put the blame on VCR.”

Today, we have a couple of generations who have no idea what a VCR was.

Eventually, I became my mother, overcome by change. Today’s music is as unappealing to me as Rock was to her.


Did you know that the shirts I wear – collared and buttoning up the front – are referred to as grandpa shirts? How dare they.

Just got a letter from my oldest son, written in fountain pen. It did my heart good. In it, he said, “I’ve always been a paper and pen nerd. I was searching for a favorite pen. About five years ago, I saw a guy in a meeting using a fountain pen. I bought a Lamy Safari and a few others.”

I, too, own a Lamy Safari, but my pen of choice is a Pilot Cavalier. I use a black ink called Noodler’s Heart of Darkness.

If anyone dares call it a “grandpa pen”, I shall be highly offended. Or maybe not.

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