Let’s Rent Another Movie

There was a time in our family when a typical Christmas present was a single VHS blank tape, which cost about $20 back in the early eighties. It was considered a generous gift, equivalent to somewhere between $50-60 in today’s dollars.

There were benefits to those tapes. They did not scratch, could not be so easily lost since they were so much bigger than a DVD, and when you rented a movie, they did not come with any annoying commercials and movies previews.

We purchased our first video recorder when we moved into our first house. We had no cable television, so we were unable to watch anything but what we could view from the antenna—a total of seven stations.

Dad recalls that it came at a hefty price—$600. I do not how we afforded such an extravagant toy back in those days, but I think our rationale was that we had money for little else. We did not travel unless it was on business, nor did we go to the movies. It was a rare treat to go out to eat that first year or two after purchasing that house.

That particular VCR had no scanning capability, so we would have to FAST FORWARD, STOP, PLAY, and continue to do this until we arrived at the spot we wished to view. The scanning feature came with the next model.

The video store in town ran a special. For $100 and for a period of one year, we could rent as many movies as we wanted. The catch was that we could only rent one movie at a time.

Uncle Mart was living with us that year, so he would watch a movie and then walk down to the video store to get another one. (He did not have a car.)

Looking back, this all seems so primitive. Now we can rent movies at our local video store or from a vending machine called Red Box , choose a film from a plethora of cable stations, live stream via so many different services, and borrow as many as 60 at a time from the library. (This is in case the kiddies want to set up their own movie rental stand next to their lemonade stand, I guess.)

I wonder what the future will bring.

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