Last week I was privileged to give a short talk on the life of a Civil War soldier to my daughter's fourth grade class. We learned about the food, clothing, and life of a typical Union private in the western theater. We ended the discussion with a short lesson in the manual of arms and drill, using yardsticks as imaginary Springfield muskets. My daughter teaches the advanced class of students and they asked some good questions and seemed genuinely interested. I think I managed to get through the 45 minutes or so of class without mumbling and stuttering like an imbecile.
At one point I was discussing the uniforms of the Civil War when immediately two or three hands shot into the air. I was not giving a lecture and throughout the discussion we were doing give and take, to make sure the kids understood what I was presenting. I acknowledged one boy who stated in complete seriousness and with an earnestness and thirst for knowledge "I thought there was no color until the twentieth century. Weren't the uniforms grey and black?". I looked at him in dumbfounded amazement and noticed several other kids nodding in agreement. Suddenly, my daughter started to laugh. She explained that sure there was color, only the pictures were in black and white.
We laughed about it later and she said she had a similar experience a few months ago when a phone booth was referenced in a story the kids were reading. Not only did they never seen a phone booth, but the idea that there was no cell phone to use was beyond their understanding. We live in amazing times.