Last updateTue, 14 Jan 2020 10pm

The Way It Used To Be: Y2K Prophecy

Reprinted from February 2000

I wish I’d done a prophecy about Y2K. If I had I would now be another Nostradamus. I can see it all now, “Local Jeweler Predicts No Problems As We Change Centuries.”

I’ll never be famous, anyone could have predicted there would be no terrorist problems and in a wide stretching of the imagination no Y2K problems. I now believe most folks stayed home and watched pictures from around the world while other and perhaps more daring souls ventured into the streets and festivities.

Here in El Paso the weather is almost always nice. On the day of the 31st, I woke up and looked out of the window to see cloudy conditions and an occasional snowflake. When Chip picked me up there were noticeable snowflakes but he made his own prophecy. He said, “It isn’t going to snow.” I pointed out it was snowing. To this he said, “It isn’t going to stick.” It was already sticking.

Through the day it continued to snow and I am very southern, I do not care for snow. We closed early as planned and I had these trips to make to the bank, post office and grocery store. I was wearing opened toed shoes. I had to walk in cold slush and it was not only ghastly cold, it was dangerous. I had to stand in line at the grocery store with 20 people in front of me. It had been a poor business day to boot.

When I finally got home and settled, it occurred to me to think back over my part of the century. I could be surprised yet and named someone who made a significant contribution to society. There’s always hope. Maybe someday I will spot the Prize Patrol coming to my house!

Anyway, the early part of the 20th century was taken care of by my ancestors, all of whom have passed on and gone to heaven. My grandfather took in people who’d been slaves and descendants of slaves on his farm and furnished them a house and job. My mother drove the first motorcar ever brought to the state of Oklahoma.

Great Uncle Ben actually made working watch parts for pocket watches and clocks. Our cold box consisted of a wooden box where ice was placed on the sop shelf and allowed to melt chilling the area below. Ice was an absolute premium and I recall originally cost from ten to twenty five cents.

A trip to Uncle Ben’s store was a treat. I watched him carefully washing each watch part in some solution and then placing them in saw dust. What was considered accurate time then would not be tolerated today! He had a timing board with dozens of watches displayed and they were secured so they did not swing back and forth with the rhythm of the balance wheel.

There were no timing machines then so the watches were timed and regulated for a period of days before delivery. Another jeweler there did optical work along with the watches and clocks. Sort of one stop shopping, like Walmart today. That’s something else - there were no Walmarts. I’ll bet today’s generation couldn’t imagine this.

This New Year’s Eve there was nothing to do except watch TV that day and the next. I had invitations attend open houses and eat black-eyed peas, but opted not to go. Who likes freezing slush? 

Through TV I learned the Internet, Cyber Space, would soon be doing 8 billion dollars in sales. Now I am no fool. I recall RB telling me years ago that a customer will go 9 miles out of the way to save a buck but that same person would not walk ½ a block to earn a buck. This means anyone with a credit card and a computer can get on line and buy anything - except service.

I was thinking back to Uncle Ben who had specialized in service as well as sales. I decided it wasn’t so bad RB had gone to watch making school walking away from a good job as a rod man for the highway dept., after having to hold that rod in waist deep water.

The twentieth century had been good to my family and me. Medical advances are wonderful if you have insurance. We are fortunate time is still the same, no one melted with the good old 24 hours a day. Wait awhile, some terrorist will figure out a way to mess up time as we know it. There were no incidents in our city. I kept nodding off and then was awakened by pow! Pow! The next day Chip mentioned he’d heard fireworks at midnight. Another faulty observation - they were gun shots. They came from a housing area about 1/4 mile from both of our houses. How is it people in America can afford bullets but can’t afford food? There must be a lot of work to be done out there to fix things. I’ll just have to plod along doing the best I can.

As I place this copy on the FAX I recall standing on a chair and reaching up to the wall telephone, the only one within a 10-mile radius, and cranking the handle holding down the receiver and waiting for the operator. We have come a long way and gained a lot, but also we have lost something.

My advice to you is make sure you have plenty of stock in your store and groceries at home in preparation for Y3K!