Technology Leaves Boomers’ Groovy Talents Behind

Baby boomers’ groovy talents just are not fully appreciated by the younger generations.

As a teen, I could play a mean game of pong. My handwriting was absolutely gorgeous and I wrote the best letters. I drove my ugly puke green Pinto station wagon with a stick shift like a pro. No one was faster at shorthand than me in high school.

Boomers' Groovy Talents

Is writing letters an obsolete talent?

Cradling a phone for hours in the crook of my neck while I talked to friends? No problem.

I created beautiful photo albums that included funny sayings I carefully cut out of magazines. I used a Polaroid camera, picked the right film, and reduced exposure time like an expert.

Forget Quicken, spellcheck, and a calculator. I balanced a checkbook beautifully in minutes, my spelling was impeccable, and I made change from cash in my head.

I could even find a book at the library using a card catalog and the decimal system.

Alas, all these talents have gone to waste. Technology has sadly left me in the dust.

I’m not alone in grieving discarded past skills no longer needed. In Michael’s Kaplan’s article, Technology is Making Baby Boomers Total Losers published in the New York Post, he laments the invention of Telsa cars.

“A few weeks ago, I rode in a friend’s Tesla…my pal couldn’t wait to show me the sedan’s most mind-blowing feature: It parallel parks by itself — perfectly,” Kaplan writes. “I feigned amazement, but thought something else: This is one more skill of mine that has just become obsolete. I’m a below-average driver but an awesome parallel parker…Grown men stand curbside and marvel over my bumper-to-bumper artistry.”

He goes on to list other talents we boomers had that are no longer needed such as reading a map or remembering phone numbers. Oh, I hear you, Kaplan!

Remember sewing classes in Home-Ec ? I learned how to make dresses from patterns while painfully pricking my fingers with those stupid sewing pins. And for what? Suddenly, it became cheaper to buy clothes than make your own.

Boomers' Groovy Talents

Have all my secretarial talents gone to waste?

During my first job as a secretary at a bank, I developed an uncanny skill for using carbon copies (by the way, youngsters, where do you think the initials CC comes from when you send an email – yes, from this archaic tool) without making a smudgy mess. I also used typewriter erasers without tearing the paper.

And get this –  most impressive of all – I could paint precisely with whiteout to fix a typo, let it dry the exact right amount of time, and then realign the paper perfectly so the type was not too high or too low. It was genius!

All useless.

I made the cutest paper dolls from the Montgomery Ward catalog. My embroidered cutoffs and artful doodles of Snoopy on my Pee Chee folder made my schoolmates pee green with envy. I could skip a song on an album by picking up the needle and placing it at the exact spot of my favorite song without scratching the vinyl.

No one cares.

Doesn’t it make you yearn for public pay phones, grinding gears, and the sound of a dial up modem? Adjusting rabbit ears? Cleaning the head of a VCR? Lining up paper on a dot matrix paper? Fixing an 8-track by putting Vaseline on a Q-tip to lubricate the rubber wheel? Floppy disks?

Well, maybe not. But we can still mourn for all our awesome skills that are now useless. And who knows?

Maybe you’ll be in an old Jeep driving alongside a cliff when the driver has a heart attack. Yeah, and you must jump on his lap and take over before you plunge hundreds of feet below. I mean, you just never know. Good thing you know how to drive a stick shift!

Perhaps our expired skills aren’t so useless after all!

Images courtesy of Pixomar and Praisaeng at


Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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12 Responses

  1. Great post Julie!!! You just brought back a ton of great memories…and funny ones too! 🙂
    We so loved “making the cutest paper dolls from the Montgomery Ward’s catalog.”
    Good for you learning how to use a stick shift. I never even tried to master that.
    Keep your posts coming! They are a delight!

  2. I learned to drive on a friend’s old VP bug with a stick shift and I can still picture that car bouncing across the back parking lot of the local grocery store as I practiced after school each day. It felt like such an accomplishment when I finally mastered a smooth shift! And I wasn’t about to let that achievement go to waste so when the time came to buy my new car, I chose a sporty convertible Triump Spitfire … stick shift of course! Great memories and I wouldn’t give up completely on some of those talents Julie. You know trends have a habit of coming around again so maybe one day you’ll find yourself sharing your skills with others!

    • juliegorges says:

      Thanks for the visual of you learning to drive a shift – I learned in the mountains where we lived – oh, what fun! Maybe you’re right and some of these trends will come around again, although I think pong is gone for good. 🙁

  3. Suzie Cheel says:

    You had me at the phone cradled on my neck and I have a friend who still whips up a dress in an afternoon now my sewing machine sits in the corner lonely except for the odd repair. I feel maybe s new quilt coming on . Julie just adore this post and learned on a steering wheel shift. I have two boomer friends who have manual cars – yes one is the one who still sees 💜

    • juliegorges says:

      Glad you could relate, Suzie! I haven’t made a quilt since my teens and I’m afraid I’ve moved on to an automatic years ago. But it’s still fun to remember!

  4. Julie, what a wonderful walk down memory lane. Here is the punch-line…wait until the internet goes down for three or more days from a cyber attack and watch those parallel parkers back through the store front windows or someone CANNOT OPEN THEIR CASHREGISTER and has to legibly WRITE DOWN PRODUCT SOLD, THE AMOUNT PAID AND CHANGE MADE. I’ve already seen it happen. It is nice to know we can use modern day technology, but can also rely on our Hippy Past. Great post!

  5. Sue Kearney says:

    I revived one such skill recently — I’m a great hand sewer, and all those patches I lovingly sewed onto my jeans edging them with blanket stitch with embroidery floss…. Just bought two pairs of cotton pants from the Gap and — I kid you not — the back pockets were about 1.5″ deep, not even close to deep enough to hold my phone. I took some fabric and made one of each of the back pockets about 3″ longer, using embroidery floss and a nice tight blanket stitch. Phone fits fine; I just need to remember which side has the made-longer-by-me pocket!

  6. Joyce Hansen says:

    I was test driving a car with the salesman. He asked why I was using only my right foot on the gas. Shouldn’t I be using my right foot instead of my left foot to brake? Oh, I said, no problem. I learned to drive double clutching a tractor. He had no clue what clutching or double clutching meant. Sometimes you have to remember you come from the dark ages. Thanks for a wonderful reminder of all the skills we’ve accumulated.

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