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Ballard: Changes arrive as time flies by

While I was stopped at a red light the other day, I took a quick glance to the right and left. In one car, a lady was rapidly texting a message on her phone. In the another one, an intense conversation on a mobile phone was taking place. I gazed back and looked down at my iPhone sitting on the front car seat next to me.

My mind traveled back several decades and I smiled as I wondered what my grandparents would have thought about having a mobile phone that could be used at any time -- especially in the car.

“I’m sure they couldn’t even imagine it,” I said to myself, thinking of other things that were different. The sound of a horn blowing from behind me abruptly ended my thought process and I drove away.

As I continued to drive, my mind started back down the path of change I’d already begun. I couldn’t seem to get past this phone issue.

Granny and Granddaddy had two plain and simple black phones. One was in their house perched on a small wooden shelf built into the wall in the hall. The other one hung out in their garage where my granddaddy spent a lot of his time after retirement. They had no answering machines and no caller ID.

Their lives didn’t revolve around the phone. If they were home, they answered the call. If they weren’t, well, you just had to wait until they returned. That was that. During all other times, they were unreachable.

Somehow, way back then we made it along just fine without cell phones. Imagine that? When you don’t know there’s another option, you don’t miss what you don’t have. As I continued to drive, I tried to imagine my granddaddy’s face if he were able to see what I’d just seen back at the red light. It would have blown his mind.

I’m sure my grandmother wouldn’t have liked it. I can just hear her saying, “Why would I want or need a phone in my car? If someone needs to contact me, they can just wait until I get back home!” Thinking of her saying that caused my smile to turn to laughter.

Time changes everything. That’s one thing I’m sure about. Just the other day, I went to Macon Mall. I’m still amazed every time I see the changes. My mother worked at J.C. Penney for as long as I can remember. I can still see her in the women’s department.

She started off when J.C. Penney was in a warehouse building on Hillcrest Avenue. I passed that building on my bike the other day and it brought back some childhood memories. Then the new Macon Mall opened and we thought we had died and gone to heaven. J.C. Penney anchored one end while Sears stood proudly at the other. Both my sister and I worked at that Sears and I still can’t believe it’s now closed. I’m sure if my daddy were still living he would also be shocked.

Mother helped open the new J.C. Penney. Not too long after she died, they decided to do a massive expansion and construct a huge new wing of shops past the east end of J.C. Penney. The new addition has been removed and it’s back to how it was when Mother worked there. During a recent visit, I stared at the mall, vividly remembering all the excitement and hoopla of the day it first opened all those years ago, I muttered to myself out loud, “Wow! Mother missed the new addition completely and now it’s as if it was never there.” I shook my head in disbelief.

Since my parents and grandparents have passed away, roads have been widened and new exits have been added to the interstates. New buildings have popped up everywhere and we now have another places where we can shop. Land we used to think was out in the country is now a part of our city. Personal computers are the norm, bringing with them a passport to the world, opening doors we couldn’t even imagine were there.

We are growing and changing at the speed of light and they’re missing it.

The thing I think would shock them the most is that it is rare you see anyone without a mobile phone.

They have become our new cameras and photo albums. The art of handwritten letters has morphed into texts, tweets and e-mails. Most all of our business is done on computers as well as nearly everything we read.

And, instead of visiting with our friends in person, we keep up with them on Facebook.

Somehow, I can’t see my Granny on Facebook. However, I can see my mother having a page. What would Granny think of paying bills online instead of hand delivering them to each place? What would Daddy think of reading the newspaper on an electronic tablet instead of holding the actual newsprint it in his hand?

What if they were able to take a peek at life now? What would they think?

I’m not sure and will never know the answer to those questions. But, I do know that it won’t be long at this rate of change until our children and grandchildren are sitting around thinking the same thing about us.

Who knows what will be available this time next year, in five years, in 50 years?

All we can do is go with the flow. Life goes on, and with it comes change!

More with Mark

Holiday happenings with Mark in early November:

Nov. 2-4, Christmas Made in the South, Macon Coliseum,

Nov. 9, Holiday Extravaganza and Luncheon, Goodwill’s Anderson Conference Center, Eisenhower Parkway, Macon. Tickets available by calling 471-4389 or online at Act before Friday for early bird ticket and table pricing.

Nov. 11, A Holiday Celebration, Galleria Conference Center, Warner Robins, Tickets available by calling 971-7701 (Family Dental Associates) or at the Lamb’s Well, Family Dental Associates or Yelverton’s.

Mark’s new cookbook, “Delicious,” arrives this week filled with more than 350 new and delicious recipes, including some by local celebrities and chefs. To order, go to or call 757-6877.

Check out Mark’s website,, for current projects, recipes and lots of other fun stuff.

Mark is on 24 hours a day. Videos, columns and articles are featured.

Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; fax them to (478) 474-4930; call (478) 757-6877; e-mail to; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.