Wireless a century ago

In the world before instant and constant communication, just how did people keep tabs on their loved ones?  When it took a week for a letter to cross the Atlantic Ocean and another week for a response to go back, perhaps there was a little less of the intensity and compulsiveness that seems to be common in cell phone calls today.

An envelope that was edged in black marks all around the perimeter was known to contain the news of a death of a family member.  When a clock that should not ring, did ring, that was another signal that someone had passed on.    

People relied on dreams and intuition more heavily.  I certainly remember my paternal grandmother always interpreting dreams that any of us told her about.  Not that we took this seriously, but it was fun.

Telepathy still seems to be valid.  How many times I have called my sister to hear her say, “I was just thinking of you” and after several experiences like that she thought it was getting spooky.

In the late 1960s I was living with my friend, Carol and we often had friends in to dinner.  One evening when I made Hungarian Goulash, a particularly tasty entree, I invited my one time across the street neighbor and friend, Dick to join us.  He always enjoyed a delicious meal and would not have passed up the opportunity without a serious reason.  When he did not show up at the appointed time I thought it was odd and called him.  No answer.  I said to Carol several times, something is wrong; this is SO not like him.  In a day or two we learned that he had gone into the apartment of a neighbor who was away, to feed his exotic pets, a coatimundi and kinkajou, one of which bit him so severely he had to go to the emergency room for care.

Last week I had a dream about my friend and neighbor, Marilyn.  This struck me as peculiar since she lives at the other end of the same street as I am on and we talk or e-mail regularly.  Still it seemed so odd to me that I sent her an e-mail asking “Okay, what is going on that I had a dream of you?”  Her response was, “How did you know!”  She went on to detail some serious medical problems her husband had developed which left her in shock and him in denial.


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