8/2/12 | 1 comment |
The blink of an eye
What were you doing 30 years ago? Ronald Reagan was halfway through his first term as president and Russia was still a Cold War threat. You paid 91 cents for a gallon of gas and 20 cents for a first-class postage stamp. You watched Sylvester Stallone play John Rambo in “First Blood” or Sean Penn in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Penn State coach Joe Paterno had yet to win his first national championship.
Bishop Thomas J. Welsh was Arlington’s bishop. Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax was still a year away from being established and Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria was not yet co-ed.
I walked into the Catholic Herald office for my first day of work as a staff writer Aug. 2 of that year. My trusty IBM typewriter was at my side, along with a manual camera that took black-and-white film. There were no computers or cellphones in sight. Some current Catholic Herald staff members weren’t even born yet.
I’m not necessarily nostalgic for the “good old days,” but rather reflective on how much things have changed in the three decades since I first started my professional career. The most obvious to me is the speed in which news is transmitted. It used to take three or four days to get black-and-white film developed and a week before it appeared in print, if we were lucky. Now, if digital photos from WorkCamp or Quo Vadis Days aren’t uploaded on the website within a couple of hours we feel like we’re failing to do our jobs.
I watched Michael Phelps win his 19th Olympic medal the other night to become the most decorated Olympic athlete in history. He already announced that this will be his final Olympic competition. It brought back memories of seeing him swim as a gangly 14-year-old in Baltimore as he dominated older competitors. People whispered, “Someday that kid will be on the Olympic team.”
At some point we all make the transition from “new kid on the block” to elder statesman. You just don’t realize how fast it happens.