My parents rarely treated me like I was a child, when I was a child.  I suppose some of that may have been because I was, at that time, an only child.  In many ways I appreciated it, I think it helped me learn to think through problems.  In other ways, it was a bit difficult to participate with them.  My Dad was always very philosophical and posed hypothetical questions to me.  He insisted that I always think of ‘what if’ situations so that I would be able to anticipate consequences of my actions.  So, it is no surprise that on January 1, 1970 he decided that our family was going to answer 4 questions about what would happen over the next decade, seal our answers in an envelope to be opened on January 1, 1980, and put them in a metal, locked box.  Here are the 4 questions in the order my parents answered them:

  1. What will happen to the space program in the next 10 years?
  2. What will happen to fashion?
  3. What trend will human nature take?
  4. What will happen to our family?

Now, I don’t know what you think of those questions but these are tough questions for an adult to answer so imagine how a typical 9 1/2 year old would handle the process.  I can remember Mom and Dad writing their responses for what seemed like an eternity.  Meanwhile, my answers were short.  None of us had any idea what the others had written and we sealed the envelope and put the box away.  The box traveled with us over the next decade from Texas to Ohio then North Carolina then Oklahoma and back to Texas.

At the age of 19, I finally read my answers.  I knew to not expect much and I wasn’t disappointed.


I have no recollection of why I have an m, k and d by the numbers.  They may represent our names, Mom, Kay, Dad for some reason.  I think I answered my questions in a different order than my parents.  While my answers were a 9 1/2 year old child’s attempt to participate in adult forward thinking, my parents answers were much more thoughtful.  My Dad had us continue the practice and on January 1, 1980 we answered the same set of 4 questions and sealed them in an envelope to be read in another decade.  Fortunately, they did not make my almost 3-year old brother, David, answer the questions!

By the time that January 1, 1990 rolled around, my parents were divorced so only Mom and I opened the envelope and read the answers. The answers were again interesting but not really anything noteworthy except at the end of Dad’s he added this little note: David just said ‘stupid woman’ as he was running into his room after being told by Kay – something about his PJs.

While the process was interesting Mom and I decided to no longer continue the process.