Moments in History: Something About the Berlin Wall and Compact Discs

8th Grade Photo
May 1993 – 8th Grade Graduation

I remember where I was on the moment the Berlin Wall crashed down in 1989, at a little white desk in a white chair in a lunch room. There was a T.V. on the wall and they had it tuned in because it was important, but I didn’t know why. I watched, fascinated, without any sense of understanding. I was only 9 years old after all. I wondered, many years later, if this is how many school children felt upon hearing about the J.F.K assassination at school. That somehow it was important, somehow it would change everything, but too young to grasp its immediacy.

It’s odd to think that one month after the fall of the Berlin Wall there would also be another historic moment in Entertainment, the day the Simpsons first aired their 30min segment on T.V. Of course we couldn’t watch it because it was on channel 11 and we didn’t have a T.V. that had channel 11. Cable was too expensive, but I remember it was all the kids talked about in school and how envious I was over their ability to watch something that I couldn’t and also to eat fruit roll-ups at lunch in their little brown bags. Brown bag lunches were luxuries.

After 1989, the fall of the wall and the rise of more adult animated characters, there was one moment in history that I will always remember as being incredibly poignant and one that changed everything for everyone without realizing it. It was the dawn of the Compact Disc.

My sister and I were in our room, a co-joined room with my brothers. It was before we erected the room from the dining area so my eldest sister could move in with her family. We were listening to Metallica on our boombox, probably one of our most prized possessions and we were talking about music with her “friend from the city” – this girl that moved in from St. Louis. “The City” actually meant something then, it gave the impression of superior knowledge, culture and importance. So her friend was telling us about how she heard that the Japanese were creating these circular disc things that could play music and we couldn’t believe it. “No way!”, was probably the gist of the conversation. All I remember thinking at the time was, “Hallelujah! No more ‘Be Kind Rewind’!” That was probably the most dreaded task in our house, rewinding movies. We hated sitting there and having to wait to rewind the movies before watching anything else. Plus! We heard that you could skip songs without rewinding or fast-forwarding, you could actually just go to the exact song and then you could even repeat it. Our jaws were dropped, this piece of incredible technological magic couldn’t actually exist, could it? Strange how the Compact Disc, the CD, was so unbelievable then. It was the dawn of a new era, the 1990s, and we were living in it.

I take for-granted the objects of today, the ones that were so remarkably unknown then, cell-phones and flat screen T.Vs that don’t ‘bloop’ out like the old Tubes, or even blu-ray. I don’t think I could have even dreamed up in my wildest of imaginations something like Netflix with instant streaming. Or even this laptop, that I am typing on at this very moment, this would have only lived in a science fiction novel. I often thought, walking around, how odd it must be for centurions in this new world; never having realized that to my younger self it would have also been unfathomable. If I step back to that day, in the room listening to Metallica on the boom box and my sister and her ‘city friend’ discussing compact discs; I would have never guessed a lot of the things that are available or happening now. They were just fantasies.

Between now and then I understand the important of the Berlin Wall, I can watch the Simpsons from the Pilot onward through its 23+ Seasons if I had the time and I don’t even need CDs to listen to music anymore; it’s all downloadable. However, I think, if I could tell that girl (that was me) while she was sitting on her bed listening to what we thought was Heavy Metal back then, I would say ‘Have Patience’. We learned how to take care of things when we had to ‘Be Kind Rewind’, we learned what it meant to Earn things when we couldn’t have exactly what we wanted at any given moment and at that time… all those years ago… we learned about the importance of our History and what it took to get there.

Berlin Wall

For just a minute today, reflect back to a moment that changed everything. Where were you? What were you thinking? Did you know you were standing in the middle of change?


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