All right kids, gather 'round the fire. You’ve all done your chores for the day, and now it is story time. So what would you kids like to hear
tonight? King Arthur and the Round Table? Aladdin and his magic lamp? No? How about Alice and her adventures down the rabbit hole? OK, what about the
tale of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader? I haven’t told that story in a while. No? Gosh, you kids are hard to please. Heard it all, I see. Nobody
likes the ancient classics anymore I guess.
OK, then, since you can’t decide I guess I’ll pick for you. Tonight I’m not going to tell you an imaginary tale – I’m going to tell you
about things that really are true. No, no groaning. This will be interesting, you’ll see. I was told these things by my grandfather when I was about
your age, who he said they were told to him by his
grandfather, who actually lived back around the end of the Golden Age. No, Janey, I am not
that old myself, though I may look it. This was back when my grandfather’s grandfather was a little boy. No, it was after caveman times. Yes, after
King Arthur too, David. I’m not sure I believe it all myself, but my granddad swore up and down it was the gospel truth.
Now let’s see what I can remember.
Back in the Golden Age, people didn’t ride donkeys and mules to market. They had these metal things called “cars,” that looked like little tiny
houses with wheels. When I was a boy there were a few pieces of one left, but I think even the pieces are gone now. Anyway, they were so fast, they
could take you all the way from here to the coast in less than a day! No, I’m not making this up. It wasn’t magic, it was a kind of skill they had
with machinery, to make these things. Yes, Johnny, machines like the well pump, but a lot more complicated. And almost everyone had one of their own.
You put this black gooey stuff in it (I forgot what it was called) and it would take you anywhere. And what’s more, people could fly through the
air. No, not quite like Luke Skywalker’s space ship; they couldn’t go that high into the sky (though my grandpaw said they had machines a little
like that too, and even went to the moon, but I think he was pulling my leg with that one). These were called “airplanes” and people used to take
them to far away places, just for fun sometimes! It was called a “vacation.”
What’s a “vacation”? Well, Sarah, it was time when you didn’t have to do any work. Yes, like Christmas, but more than one day a year. In fact,
most of them had vacations twice a week, on Saturday and Sunday! For real, no fooling. Say that again? How did they eat if they weren’t working?
Well, here’s the thing: back in the Golden Days people had so much food they even threw a lot of it away. Kids your age would refuse to eat food
sometimes if they didn’t like the flavor – No, Timmy, not only ants and rat-meat, I mean real meat, like donkey or cow-meat. Some kids actually
threw it away! And they had so much food, they ate until their stomachs swelled real big, like the old oak in the field you can’t even wrap your
Well, that’s a good question, Andrew. I don’t quite understand how they did it. But my granddad said they had something called “paper money”
and these little rectangles made of hard stuff called “credit cards.” Yes, I think they had real metal coins too, like us, but people actually
used the paper and magic cards to get things, and nobody even weighed the coins to see if they were real or not.
No, I’m not making this up; this was all told to me by my grandfather, who was as honest as the day is long. He also told me they didn’t have
storytellers like me so much in the Golden Age. At night they’d watch a kind of box that showed moving images, and the images told stories. Yes,
Nancy, maybe a little like the way a dream looks, or a painting, but I must confess I don’t really understand it myself. And they had other boxes
called “computers” they could use to communicate with people on the other side of the world. People loved these little boxes so much, my
grandfather said, that sometimes they’d sit there all day and all night just watching the magic pictures.
Yes, they had paper books like us, too – and a lot more of them! My granddad said in his
granddad’s time, every town had a place with free
books anyone could read, called a “library.” How many? Well, I don’t know, but he made it sound like a lot. If I had to guess, I’d imagine a
big city like Old ‘Frisco on the coast used to be might have as many as a hundred different books within city limits. Maybe that’s too many,
it’s hard for me to imagine too. Maybe only a dozen or two. What’s that, Cindy? Why didn’t they steal the books? I guess because they had so
many. In fact, my Granddad said they had so many that people actually got bored of them and stopped reading ‘em! Can you imagine?
What’s that, Bobby? You’ll have to speak up, I’m old and can’t hear all that well anymore. Say again?
You want to know why things changed and why the Golden Age came to an end?
Well bless you child, weren’t you listening to a thing I just said? I just gave you all the reasons!
edit on 7/30/2013 by silent thunder because: (no reason given)