Perspectives: Grandmother Was An Astronaut

Jun 26, 2020

I grew up with a typewriter keyboard, and I grew up with a TV set. The other day I used a device that blends the keyboard and the screen -- it’s called a computer -- to talk via live video to a friend in Paris.  

 


I’m a digital immigrant, whereas my kids are digital natives. I still think of this mélange of TV screen and keyboard as magic. They don’t. They grew up with this thing. A smart phone is to them about as miraculous as a file cabinet is to me.  

 

Then one day it hit me. My own grandmother was also a tech immigrant. When she was a girl, she had never ridden in any carriage not pulled by a horse. Her family did not have indoor plumbing. She couldn’t hear anyone even a block away. A radio would have been a miracle, but she’d have been in her thirties before she heard one. 

 

When one of the elderly secretaries on Mad Men died, her boss said, “She was born in a hay loft. She died on the forty-second floor. She was an astronaut.” My grandmother was not just an indoor plumbing immigrant. She died on the first floor of our house. But she too was an astronaut.  

 

This is Tom McBride, and that’s my Perspective.