The DeWitty Center Brings Back Childhood Memories


Senior Woman with ComputerIt’s difficult for most of us to imagine a time when radios, televisions and telephones were oddities in the average American home.  To someone over the age of 70, it was not the norm.

“Oh, goodness yes, I remember all the neighbor kids would gather around daddy’s chair to listen to The Lone Ranger on the radio,” recalls septuagenarian Betty* when asked about the technology of her youth.  “We had such fun listening to the show and imagining the adventures.”

Betty is a client of Austin Free-Net, and her childhood home was one of the first in her small, rural Texas neighborhood to have access to new technology.  She remembers fondly how her father surprised her entire family with something called a “television.”

“I loved it.  But, it belonged to daddy,” smiling at her memory.  When The Lone Ranger went off the radio and became a much-beloved television series in 1949, Betty was thrilled.  “The whole world stopped when the program was on, even mama joined us.”

Throughout her more than 70 years, Betty has welcomed technology into her world.  She has a fondness for TV remote controls, but did have some reservations about using the computer.

Like many seniors who are afraid of breaking the computer, or not being able to understand how it works, Betty had some reservations about visiting Austin Free-Net and taking the free Computer Basics class.

“Everyone was so welcoming at the DeWitty Center.  I was nervous about being there, but the teacher made every step easy and I was working the mouse the first day.  Some days, my arthritis acts up but the mouse doesn’t cause any issues.  That’s a big deal at my age.”

This feisty Texan has some mobility issues, but as she puts it, “I can still ride the bus to DeWitty!”

On her most recent visit, the Lab Monitor (an Austin Free-Net staff member designated to assist all those in the computer lab), showed her something she’ll never forget.

He handed her a free pair of earbuds (small headphones), showed her where to plug them in, and directed her to a website she’d never visited – Old Time Radio Network. It’s a free online treasure trove of radio programming.  With 973 radio episodes of her childhood favorite, The Lone Ranger, Betty beamed with pride at being able to bring back the adventures of her youth whenever she wished.

Hi-ho, Silver…indeed.

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For more information on Austin Free-Net and the DeWitty Center, visit www.austinfree.net.

*The name of the client has been changed.  Austin Free-Net respects the privacy of all clients.