Loading…
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
HomeA&ECulture
Published: Sunday, 5/15/2005

Low-tech and loving it

BY ANN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Mickey Cochrane cuts his lawn with his 1960 push mower. Mickey Cochrane cuts his lawn with his 1960 push mower.
Enlarge

New! Improved! Faster! Snazzier! Glitzier!

Get it now!

Ho-hum. Not interested, say those who see no reason to jump on the high-technology bandwagon. They're not horse-and-buggy types, just people who are in no hurry to trade in what still works perfectly well for something that allegedly works better.

Call them low-tech, or no-tech. Or, as Sue Gilgen's husband calls her: a minimalist.

"There are so many things people think they need," said Mrs. Gilgen of Findlay, a 45-year-old mother of three who makes popcorn on the stove even though her microwave would do it for her. Marriage seven years ago also brought a computer, touch-tone phone, and answering machine into the home, thanks to her husband. "He loves the buttons and whistles," she said.

"I just don't need all these things," Mrs. Gilgen continued. "My family thinks I'm Amish."

But while the Amish have traditionally shunned electricity and other modern conveniences for religious reasons, Mrs. Gilgen just seems to want the right tool for the job - and no more.

"Do you need seven speeds on a mixer? Maybe if you're a chef you do. I need high and low," she said. "It's not like I couldn't figure it out. I just don't want to be bothered with it."

To Polly Pomeranz of Swanton, a 59-year-old employment counselor, technology has put a chill on life.

Sue Gilgen of Findlay makes popcorn the old-fashioned way - on the stove - for her children, Patrick, 1, Andrew, 4, and Tommy, 5. Sue Gilgen of Findlay makes popcorn the old-fashioned way - on the stove - for her children, Patrick, 1, Andrew, 4, and Tommy, 5.
WADSWORTH / BLADE Enlarge

"I do not want a computer. I think it takes away from the personal contact with people," she declared. Communicating by e-mail "is so impersonal, it's so cold. They're not really talking to anyone. There's no dialogue."

She said co-workers tell her she could keep in touch with clients so much easier by e-mail. She responds: "Why can't I just come in and pick up the phone?"

Miss Pomeranz occasionally dips a toe into technology: she'll use a fax machine in order to send resumes more quickly to employers, and asks her secretary or administrator to send an e-mail to someone who requests it.

And, she admitted, "Sometimes I'm really amazed at what the computer can do - but I don't want to be involved in it."

Philip Sherick's involvement with computers also is limited to the bare essentials. The 45-year-old Fremont man said he'll go online sometimes for consumer information - via the computers at the public library. He also uses the library's computerized card catalog.

And he admitted that a passing motorist's cell phone saved the day when he was in a serious automobile accident almost 10 years ago. But that doesn't wipe out the negative impression of being in the men's room at the Atlanta airport in 2001 and noticing that a man was conducting business on his cell phone a couple urinals away.

"I thought, 'Oh, no. Has it come to this?'" Mr. Sherick said.

"I associate technology with stress," he said. "And e-mail - to me that's the height of tackiness. Whatever happened to sitting down at a writing desk and eloquently penning a letter and organizing your thoughts and sending it out in the mail?"

There's a lot to be said for the old-fashioned way of doing things, Mr. Sherick asserted.

Such as this quaint notion: if something still works, why get rid of it? Dee Palmerton, 56, of West Toledo, said she's had a small-screen, black-and-white television set for about 35 years, originally in her home and now in her office at work.

"I've never had it repaired," Miss Palmerton said - although she said she has to hang paper clips on the aerial to summon the local channels.

She's not anti-progress: Miss Palmerton said she has three TV sets at home with screen sizes ranging from 25 to 32 inches.

Mickey Cochrane, 75, of Bowling Green, pointed out that so many technologically sophisticated products are difficult to figure out. And he's a smart guy - a retiree who taught in the health and physical education department at Bowling Green State University, coached soccer and lacrosse, and now runs BGSU's athletic museum. "Things change so rapidly," he said.

So he and his wife, Patricia, who live in a 110-year-old house, are content to shoot pictures with film, cut the grass with a push mower, wind up clocks, and communicate with friends by phone and mail.

They do have a touch-tone phone, which they found necessary for navigating automated answering systems. But they also still use a rotary phone, which puzzled their nephews during a visit last year. "They said, how does that work?'" Mr. Cochrane recalled.

Shirley Rogers of Oregon could have helped with the explanation, because she has used a rotary phone since 1962. Describing herself as "a senior," Miss Rogers said there wasn't a thing wrong with it until about six months ago, when she dropped it and the cradle cracked. It's glued and back in service.

"It's not a fancy phone but that doesn't matter to me," she said.

Miss Rogers acknowledged that a rotary phone can be inconvenient in a touch-tone world. But, "I found that when calling my insurance company, if I stayed on and listened for the menu to go through about four times, it would connect me to an assistant," Miss Rogers explained.

When that doesn't work, she plugs in a cheap touch-tone phone her children gave her. "But it's in its box until I need it," she said.

Contact Ann Weber at: aweber@theblade.com or 419-724-6126.



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.