Password predicament has columnist feeling paranoid

By Janet Hommel Mangas

I’m sure it started in my life innocently enough. I was probably 10 years old and playing with my sisters or neighborhood girlfriends in our two-room wooden playhouse in the backyard.

At some point, we decided the playhouse was for “girls only” on that day — to keep out my pesky little brother (love you Kevin!) It was this day that we instilled the password.

You know how the game is played.

(1) Someone tries to open the door, which is latched shut or barricaded from the inside with your foot against the door.

(2) Person (like a little brother) knocks and says: “Hey let me in!”

(3) People (like an older sister) answers: “What’s the password?”

Passwords — so simple back in the day. Some of you may remember the original Password Game Show with host Alan Ludden that ran from 1961 to 1967, after which various versions of the game show were on the air for more than 20 years over the past five decades.

In the game, two teams, each composed of a celebrity player and a contestant, attempted to convey mystery words to each other using only single-word clues, in order to win cash prizes. The audience was told the word with a whispered “The Password is …”

I don’t remember my first official password — maybe it was my social security number when I first opened a checking account after the first summer I detasseled corn or babysat.

Or it could have been working the combination lock to open my locker at Greenwood High School my freshman year. I hear things haven’t changed much. I was talking to some incoming junior high students in Sunday School last weekend and their No. 1 cause of anxiousness or “mild concern” about heading back to school was being able to open their lockers.

One persevering seventh-grader said he had to return to the office three times, because he didn’t have the correct combination.

By the third office visit, they finally gave him the correct combination, but he noted it took him the entire first hour just to get into his locker.

I’m sure there was some type of long-horrible numerical password when I first took a programming class during the punched-card era of computers. I try not to relive such horrible memories that rate up there with the time I wore brown and blue plaid bell-bottom pants (that I sewed in clothing class my sophomore year) accompanied with a blazer and 4-inch platform shoes that I had spray-painted gold.

Varying research reports that people today have between six to 18 passwords, between banking PINS, social media and personal and work computer applications.

I was recently lamenting to my daughter that I had eight new passwords. I likened it to being outside the gates of heaven where St. Peter was twirling the key-ring of pearly gate keys on his finger, while whistling cheerfully and asking for my password.

I imagined standing there for what seemed like hours listing all the passwords I’ve ever used.

Then I imagined my husband greeting me with a big smile as he walked straight through the gates easily spouting off his password.

Before he disappeared with brothers James and John, Simon Peter and Andrew to go fishing, I quickly call out: “Steve, I forgot my password. …” I imagined him smiling kindly, answering: “you’ll figure it out.”

Thankfully we won’t need any password to enter heaven.

Janet Hommel Mangas grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to