I have Grandkids now and all they've ever known is the internet.  Heck, for the most part, my 2 kids have only ever known the internet.  For those guys it's always been there.  You've always been able to "jump online" and tour the world.

What those younger folks don't know is that we had the internet when I was growing up too.  Way back there in the "old days" we had the internet too.  And maybe you did as well.

Oh, we didn't call it the internet then, but it was there.  We called it a "party line" and it's where we got pretty much everything, just like the internet today.

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The party line was where my Mom and Dad (Mom mostly now that I think about it) got the latest news.  They got the latest health reports, political updates, sports scores, entertainment news, opinions, and maybe the most important function of our internet back then...gossip and rumors. Hmm, not all that different than today.

Yessir..was the President doing a good job? You could find out on the party line.  Who was sick or maybe even dying or dead? The party line would have it. Who won the game last night? Just go to the party line!  And best of all...who was seen with who?? The party line would tell you and have the juicy details.

Videos? Oh yes!  Our party line back then had videos.  You'd get the latest news/sports/gossip from the party line and pretty soon there was a visual of it dancing in your head, pretty as you please.  It's what we used to call imagination.  Kids were able to use it all the time and even the adults would when they were on the party line.

Imagination.  Guess this new internet and videos kind of killed that.  We had it then though.

Now, granted, our internet back then wasn't as big and widespread as this internet today.  No, our party line only stretched from our place, down the gravel road to the Cook's place, over to Hank and Tillie Vis, then down to the Van Surksum's

We had a 4-party line. Some folks might have had an 8-party line. For us, when one of those 4 phones would ring their special personal ring (our ring was 3 shorts) you could bet the others would all jump onto the internet.  It was time for news, gossip, and all the rest!

Oh, and we couldn't actually take our internet and carry it with us.  Our internet receiver was too heavy for that and was attached to a wall or setting on a shelf or counter.  It even had a chord.

But it was our internet back in the day. And it was pretty much just as reliable as the internet we have today.

Randy's Minnesota Memories

Randy McDaniel grew up on a small farm near Leota, Minnesota during the classic baby-boomer years of the 1960s and 1970s. These are his stories of growing up in the idyllic world of southwest Minnesota.

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