iPad answers Dick Tracy dreams

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 26, 2011

As far back as I can remember, my daddy read two newspapers a day—the one he retrieved in the front yard every morning and the one that came every afternoon. He reached for it every night after supper. I claimed the funnies. As an only child who had to amuse myself often, I really got absorbed in those comic strips. The Dick Tracy strip fascinated me more than any other. It wasn’t because I was enamored with his crime-fighting abilities. It was because Dick sported a two-way wrist radio. Yes, Dick talked to someone he could see via his wrist radio. It really set my imagination soaring. I used to dream about having something that wonderful—actually seeing and talking to someone who was miles away.

I thought of that ingenious little instrument a few days ago. No, I don’t have a wrist radio. I have a new Apple Ipad2. One Sunday a friend who had one said, “You just have to have one of these, Nina.” She planted the seed. My son had one and I began questioning him about his.

After a demonstration during a shopping trip a month or so later, I took advantage of a special deal and purchased my IPad2. I knew it was a window to the world, just like a computer. But the IPad2 is tablet-sized, even small enough to carry around in my purse. Trouble was, I didn’t have a clue about how to work it. As has always been my practice when I get some kind of new electronic device, I turn to an instruction book. Lacking patience to follow instructions in the help manual inside the instrument, I got a book a few days before my son arrived for a Thanksgiving visit. By then I had learned a few things about it and gathered some information to set up my e-mail by the time we sat down together for my first lesson. After I familiarized myself with the buttons and learned how to move around in it, we got the e-mail set up.

“Let’s try the FaceTime Program now,” my son said. It was supposed to enable us to see and talk to each other—just like Dick Tracy’s wrist radio; only we had a larger screen. We followed the instructions and after a few miscues, his grinning face suddenly appeared on my screen. I couldn’t believe it. But there he was. At the same time, my face showed up on his screen. “It works, we did it!” he said, laughing at my amazed expression. Actually, despite the claims that such a thing was possible, I was skeptical. We were both a little flabbergasted when it did; but now we know. When he’s back home in Louisiana and I’m here in Alabama, we will agree on a time to contact each other, open our IPads, touch a few settings, and begin communicating, eye to eye.

Although I dreamed about it long ago, I never thought it would happen.