Entertainment/Recreation Then and Now

Posted 9/1/19

Thriving businesses now are personal fitness establishments and programs that provide an opportunity to get the exercise that the body needs. In my eighty years of life, I have observed desk jobs …

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Entertainment/Recreation Then and Now

Posted

Thriving businesses now are personal fitness establishments and programs that provide an opportunity to get the exercise that the body needs. In my eighty years of life, I have observed desk jobs replacing those requiring physical labor, and weights and treadmills have taken the place of fire logs and errands. Jogging tracks also serve to provide a means to provide exercise for legs and body. Many make frequent golf outings that also provide exercise and entertainment. 

Gone are the days when anyone could find it to be problematic to find some type of entertainment. Television, golf, sports, movies, hunting, fishing (in expensive boats and tackle), travel: the list is endless. Many will become tired of what is now available to them and expect new and exciting ways to be entertained. How the future can improve on this is anyone's guess. You can be certain that there are efforts being made at this time to do just that. There have been great successes in achieving this in my lifetime. Will the playing fields be any different after eighty more years have passed? 

Another change that has occurred over the passing of time in the field of entertainment is amusement events and parks. In Walker County each year, many looked forward to the Northwest Alabama Fair coming to town. Kids would save money so as to be able to ride the ferris wheel, bumper cars, tilt-a-whirl, merry-go-round, and other rides. Many were determined to leave with a prize won by various skill games, some con games, not realizing that the cards were stacked against them by unscrupulous operators. There were always side shows featuring humans, or animals, with a grotesque abnormality, which barkers would proclaim to be one of a kind. 

Vendors would provide cotton candy, shaved ice, soft drinks, lemonade, hotdog, hamburgers, and various other food items to appease the appetite. 

Housewives would spend months preparing to enter their quilts, canned goods, clothing, and other things hoping to win a blue ribbon. Students in 4-H would bring their projects in for judging, as did farmers with their cattle, chickens, watermelons, pumpkins, fruit and vegetables, all in quest of the blue ribbon. 

The State fair in Birmingham was always a big event, although we poor kids never got the opportunity to enjoy it as the distance and cost was prohibitive to a family of eight. 

Fast forward to now and there have been changes. State and county fairs have had their heyday and have either been eliminated or downsized. Amusement parks such as Six Flags, Opryland, and Alabama Adventure offered a complete summer of activities on a larger scale than the traveling carnivals. Water parks now offer refreshments and fun to avoid the summer's heat. 

Over the passing of time, some of these amusement parks, such as Opryland, have come and gone. Increasing inflation has made the property on which they were located more valuable. Hotels, public buildings, conference centers, and shopping centers now occupy the sites where there were once screaming kids enjoying their rides. 

Such is the nature of progress; It would be interesting to be able to return after eighty more years have passed to see what occupies the sites then. We might be in awe as to the changes. Of one thing I feel we can be sure, it will be a far cry from the county fairs of my youth. 

With the advancements of the space age will it be that a trip into space will be made possible for the masses? I am told that already there have been those who have made reservation and made a deposit on space travel. Some even anticipate that they will be able to visit a colony having been established on the moon. As we ponder the possibilities of this occurring, remember that if we go back only a little more than fifty years, the possibilities of man walking on the moon seemed a very remote possibility 

It is also interesting to ponder what toy, or electronic gadget, will be in the hands of the youngsters at that time. Will young girls still cuddle their dolls, or will dolls, as have many other children's toys, be forsaken for new and different playthings? People will find ways to be entertained, and the probability is that the methods of entertainment that I grew up with will soon be forgotten. 

One field where there has been minimum change is sports. Football was the dominant sport then, and still is. A few rules have changed, and safety equipment has improved. Football still claims Friday nights in the fall, and teams still aspire to be champions. Bands still perform at halftime and attendance remains strong. Basketball still has loyal fans and gyms have improved. Baseball is the favorite pastime of some, and softball has given rise to female athletes being able to run the basses. Volleyball has also gained a loyal following and some schools, as has softball, have prided themselves in fielding championship teams. Boys wrestling and soccer are sports that have also emerged and are gaining popularity as well.