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Can You Hear Me Now?

Andrea Carolina Sanchez Gonzalez

Recently, someone referred to something I still use as an antique. That something is a percolator.

Percolator coffee tastes better than coffee brewed in any other way. Sure, Mr. Coffee shortened the time between rolling out of bed and taking that first sip of Folgers each morning, but he also diminished the experience, in my opinion.

As a youngster, Harvey and I would awaken each morning to the sound and smell of the percolator. Harvey was my stuffed rabbit who was named after Jimmy Stewart’s imaginary motion picture friend.

The sound of the percolator (bloop, bloop, bloop) gave me reassurance that another day had materialized and that my mom was in the kitchen preparing breakfast for my dad who would soon be leaving with the car pool for work.

The percolator made me feel secure. My world was spinning exactly as it should be.

That person calling a percolator an antique gave me pause to realize that this was one of the many sounds of my youth that young people have never heard. Sounds that are now gone, never to return.

Other sounds I thought of include a rotary phone, a dial tone, a busy signal, a manual typewriter, the flashcube on an instamatic camera, a TV channel selector, the stations blurring together as someone turns a radio dial, a television station signing off for the night, the driveway bell at a Texaco, a movie projector, and a sonic boom.

All of these were the sounds of mid-century America. The sounds of American ingenuity and progress.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t hear a lot of memorable sounds today. Most folks use similar ring tones on their phones, which is why when a phone goes off, 10 people reach for theirs.

Cars now make little or no noise. As a kid, you could tell what type of car was cranking up in the neighborhood by the sound of the starter, engine or exhaust pipes. Not anymore.

Maybe there are some sounds that today’s young people will remember with the same affinity. If not, I won’t bring it up again later.

I wouldn’t want to sound like a broken record.

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