“Someday people will be able to talk on the phone and see each other at the same time.” My father used to say this during our very brief and expensive telephone calls after I married and moved twenty-five hundred miles away from home.

My father was a milkman with a high school education, He was not a curious or technical minded person. He had been devastated when I moved so far away. I believed that seeing a person over the telephone was a fantasy and wish that he was expressing. It certainly seemed impossible to me.

Now I can Whatsapp my sister in Michigan and talk for an hour for free. I can see her new hairstyle and how she has rearranged her living room.

My granddaughter-in-law can post photos and videos on Instagram and seconds later, I get a ping on my phone letting me know they are there.

We watch the news on television. Something he sees makes Max ask, “Where are the Canary Islands?” I’m not exactly sure. I whip out my phone and Google it.

In the 1960s we moved next door to Susan Story Wonson, a lovely woman who had been born in 1886. I often visited her on Sunday afternoons. Her stories charmed me.

Winston Churchill died the month after we moved next to Susan. She made it very clear what she thought of him. “Oh, that dreadful man.” One summer as a little girl her family had traveled by train to Bar Harbor where they stayed at a big resort hotel. Winston Churchill, in his teens then, teased her by tugging at her long, red, ringlets. Seventy-eight years later she still couldn’t abide hearing his name. Even his WWII leadership couldn’t change her opinion of him.

Susan marveled that she had been born to horse and buggy and was now living in the age of jetliners. Telephones, television, space exploration, a man on the moon even.

One of her stories was about her longing for electricity. By the 1940’s most American homes had electricity, but not the Wonsons. Each evening Susan’s father would go to the cellar to stoke the coal furnace and to smoke one pipe. She would carefully rehearse her argument for installing electricity, not the whole house, just one line into the corner of the living room where she could read and sew. He would return to their sitting room, adjust the gas lamp, settle in his wing back chair, and pick up his book. Susan would give her carefully reasoned argument, he would not acknowledge her words and soon retire for the night. He never said no, he just never said anything.

The first thing that Susan did after her father’s death in 1946 was to install electricity throughout the house.

I wonder what Susan would have thought of Snapchat and Whatsapp and Facebook. Sometimes I wonder what I think.

My mom and me with Susan Wonson, Christmas 1970