April 15, 2013 in Features

Men keep up with technology

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Dan Carney, 66, often texts his grandson and other family members and friends.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

These two Spokane men embraced technology to stay in better touch with family, friends and the greater world.

They’re having a blast. Here’s why.

Dan Carney, 66, Spokane

Back story: Carney started texting about four years ago when he realized his grown children, now ages 30 to 40, preferred communicating via text when they weren’t with their dad and mom in person.

When one of his daughters was going through a tough time medically, she texted her parents with test updates and her feelings about the health roller coaster she was on.

Carney’s son, who coaches high school basketball, texts game times and locations.

“It was easy for me, because it kept me close to my kids,” Carney said.

Carney, former co-owner of an insurance company, retired 10 years ago, but he now keeps his hand in as a consultant to younger insurance agents. They often text him to set up meetings and ask for advice.

Best surprise: Like many men, Carney hates long telephone conversations. Always has.

“Once I’ve made the point, I don’t search for reasons to stay on the phone,” he said. “When the kids call, if they ask me a question or want to know something, I’ll answer it and then say, ‘Here’s your mother.’ ”

Texting eliminates the need for most phone calls. Texts are short and to the point – Carney’s preferred style.

Texting log: Carney texts 10 to 15 times a day. By 1 p.m. one recent day, he’d texted with his wife, his daughter’s mother-in-law, a young man he’s mentoring in the insurance business and his daughter Beth Ann who wrote: “Dad, check your email, because I sent you pictures from Easter.”

He also texted with his 12-year-old grandson, Matty, who was with his parents and sister on spring vacation in Mexico.

Matty texted: “Hi Papa, I really miss you. We’re having a great time.”

Carney texted back: “I miss you, too. Love you, Papa.”

Close connections: Carney was the president of his Kellogg high school class. He keeps old classmates connected through reunions and plans the reunions with the help of texting.

Some classmates have died, and Carney helps with the memorial services by emailing and texting suggested Bible readings to those planning the funerals.

When Carney’s cousin was dying last year, and the cancer had spread to his brain, the two cousins stayed in close contact.

“He couldn’t say my name, but he could text,” Carney said.

Mentoring: Carney meets up with church buddies at the Swinging Doors Restaurant on Spokane’s North Side. Some of those buddies are reluctant to text, even when they use cellphones. So Carney will urge them to text their wives, rather than call them, and he gives a quick texting lesson.

He tells them: “If you want to keep close contact with your family, this is the simplest way.”

John Holland, 82, Spokane Valley

Back story: Holland and his wife, Muriel, live in their own wing of a large family home, designed so two generations can live under one roof.

He began having video chats with family members about six months ago because his daughter, Teresa Jurgensen, keeps in close touch with her grown children and grandchildren that way.

Every weekend, Holland and his wife gather around their daughter’s computer to connect with their grandson, Shane, who lives in Walnut Creek, Calif., and his son, 4-year-old Jack.

“You can see him grow,” Holland said of his great-grandson, Jack. “He’s sharper than a tack.”

Heated rocks to video chats: In the early 1930s, when Holland was around Jack’s age, he kept in close contact with his beloved grandparents, but in a dramatically different way than Holland now keeps in touch with Jack.

Holland grew up in Bovill, Idaho, near Moscow. On trips to visit his grandparents’ homes, this was the family’s routine: Holland’s parents heated large river rocks, covered them with buffalo blankets, and placed them on the floor of the family’s unheated 1928 Buick.

Holland and his four siblings placed their feet on the rocks to keep warm during the drive to Palouse, Wash., where his maternal grandparents lived. They would visit for a few hours. Then, the parents reheated the river rocks in the oven, placed blankets place over them again and the children stayed warm for the drive to Spokane to visit Holland’s paternal grandparents.

Happy birthday: For his 82nd birthday April 5, Holland’s family surprised him with a new computer. He’s now learning how to use it through classes at the Apple Store in downtown Spokane. He’s hoping soon to do video chats on his new computer in his home office.

Last year, Teresa Jurgensen and her husband, Jerry Jurgensen, bought Holland an iPad for his birthday; Muriel Holland immediately took it over.

Generational gratitude: Holland’s 30-year-old granddaughter, Chelsea Chamberlain, has her own event-planning business. She can work anywhere in the country, as long as she’s connected by computer and cellphone. Often, she works out of coffee shops and restaurants.

Chamberlain said: “People my grandpa’s age will make comments that I’m being rude or they’ll say: ‘These kids with their phones.’ ”

Instead of grumbling about kids these days, her grandpa is one of those “kids.” He takes his cellphone everywhere.

Role-modeling: Holland has given up persuading friends to embrace technology.

“One friend was writing a book, and I tried to convince him to get a computer,” Holland said. “He wanted his typewriter. Another friend sends out invoices and letters for a nonprofit. I tried to convince him, too. Nope – typewriter.”


There are two comments on this story. Click here to view comments >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email