Soon after the power company ran a string of electric light poles into St. George, proud homeowners turned on every light bulb in the house so passers-by could see that here was a home that sported the latest in technology. That was around 1923.

When I was a boy 20 years later, some of the original bulbs were still being used in our home, but by then manufacturers realized that they had to improve the bulbs so they would burn out in two years.

My neighbor Alexander was among the first to enjoy the benefits of electricity in his home. It was said that he once fired his gun in the air to celebrate some event and accidentally severed the wire that brought power into the town.

We mention Alex here because he was upset by his first electric bill. The way I heard it, he angrily went to the company’s office in town, said that he had never before in his life received a bill for anything in the mail and that if they were going to insult him by sending him dunning notices, they could disconnect their wire.

Children quickly adopt the ways of new technology, whereas it can confuse and bewilder older folks like Alex and myself, and that is our thesis today.

Would you smile with condescending amusement if I told you what I learned yesterday and the nostalgic thoughts it brought to mind?

 One. When my friend Bernard Davis lost his cellphone, he could have pinpointed its location with his wife’s cellphone – had he registered it. I’ve seen detectives pinpoint the location of phones on the TV program “NCIS” but had the impression that one needed graduate degrees in computer science from Johns Hopkins and MIT to do it.

And even then I wasn’t sure that tracing the location of a cellphone wasn’t just some kind of spooky science-fiction thing that was made up to amaze and entertain, much like Patrick Swayze’s ghost walking through walls.

 Two. When Davis bought a new cellphone on the way home, the guru at the store was able to retrieve all of his old phone’s information from the “cloud” and put it into his new device. Is this not unworldly magic? I would have thought that he’d be more likely to have $20 million transferred into his bank account by the director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.

 Three. New phone in hand, he could not restore the little ring-tone song that played on his old phone. He would have to pay extra to buy it from Apple. Now we’re obviously back on earth with both feet firmly planted on the ground. Paying extra is something that even old folks can easily relate to.

As an aside, lesson learned: If you do not register your phone, fasten it to your body with a stout cord. Thousands of truck drivers with bulging wallets and a handful of keys chained to their thick, black belts can’t be wrong. Or at least put a little sticky label with your contact information on anything you don’t want to lose. Most people will return things they have found if they know to whom it belongs and how to contact them.

If you are not astounded by these technological advances that everywhere abound, you are probably not yet drawing Social Security. But those of us who were over 60 when we first saw a computer or the Internet are easily awed. We are presently in way over our heads and will never catch up.

Do you remember your first bumbling experiments with new technology? When we got our first telephone in 1946, like any kid, I couldn’t wait to call a classmate. We must have been trained in telephone etiquette at school because the first words I ever spoke into a telephone were, “Is this the home of Shepard Smalley?”

There were at least five and perhaps more people on our party line. Our ring was one long and five short.

If you wanted to make a call and someone was already on there trying to find out why their neighbor’s daughter didn’t get home until 3 a.m., you’d pick it up, utter a wistful sigh of exasperation into the receiver and hang up.

After two or three sighs and clicks, your neighbor would usually abandon her research and give you the line. You got so you could tell who was listening in to your conversations at any given time.

It was while visiting my aunt in Malden, Massachusetts, that I first saw a television, and I will never forget it. Let us hope that children of today will never be exposed to the kind of sophisticated 1940s advertising that entailed a singing chorus line of sickly green rolls of toilet paper.

The humble Farmer can be seen on Community Television in and near Portland and visited at his website: