The Low-Tech Kid

Our community spans the decades.  Some were kids back in the 20’s and 30’s.  My perspective calls attention to the 70’s and 80’s.  While some of our community were tech savvy in kindergarten, most of us were kids before the tech explosion.  Internet?  A phone in your pocket?  A phone that takes photos and brings you the latest news? 

Let’s take it back to the late 70’s.  I’d pick up the phone and would hear conversations from others in the neighborhood.  It was called the ‘party line’.  As a 5-year old, that seemed rather ‘high tech’.  One could hear the town’s gossip (like an early form of Facebook), dial 5 numbers, talk for a moment and then the phone was out of hand and out of mind.  Now, your phone can be your mail, your photo album, your publishing company and your business meeting. 

‘In the old days’, the phone wasn’t a primary source for mental stimulation.  There weren’t legions of children walking down the sidewalk with their eyes glued to their smartphones.  As a child with billowing curls living in the Poconos, I lacked all of the distractions associated with ‘high tech’.  It seemed like every child in town was running somewhere.  When the equipment was available, we played that sport.  We’d ride the bikes across town, to other towns and to other counties.  [Don’t tell mom.]  We’d run ourselves ragged and day after day, it was the same story.

For the brief moments when we weren’t running - and occasionally refueling – from our living rooms, we’d watch our heroes run.  Sitting on the carpet in front of the TV felt so right after a long day of playing baseball or building a hut in the woods.  It could have been baseball, football, auto racing, basketball or hockey.  I’m talking about Mike Schmidt, Ron Jaworski, Mario Andretti, Bobby Clarke and Dr. J.  Beyond my dad, these guys were my heroes. 

Conveniently tucked between hero time on the TV, Toyota’s ad agency laid in wait to prey on my temporarily exhausted body that featured an impressionable and hungry brain.  What has stuck in my mind to this day?  Its the classic “Oh what a feeling…Toyota!” commercial.  Hear the catchy jingle.  See the truck barreling over rough terrain.  I stared at my Tonka truck and set the plan for the future.  It was no coincidence that I eventually purchased a Toyota when I took my first big job after college graduation.  That ’97 Toyota 4Runner SR5 was one of most reliable and capable vehicles I have ever owned and the seed for its purchase was planted nearly 20 years earlier. 

Its the memories that make our credo of ‘all marques, all generations’ so special.  On Saturday mornings, you’ll eventually see every automobile under the sun.  Your parents may have used that car to take the family to the movies.  You may have driven that car in high school.  That may have been the coolest car in the neighborhood at the age when you and your friends were cruising the town on your bikes.  Behind that car, there’s a caring owner and maybe a little kid that aspired to own one.  That was a ton of running to get to the point but darn it, maybe I’m still a kid at heart.

Editor's Note:  You can view this story on with your smartphone if you'd like. 

Richard Williams